Experiences

Experiences

Are you curious about the AvaLingua Exchange experience? On this page, participants from all over the world share their experiences with the (online and offline) AvaLingua Exchange meetings! Can't wait to join? Check the city pages to sign up!

 

Share YOUR experience with AvaLingua Exchange:


 

In this video from 2017, the AvaLingua Exchange (known as Language Exchange back then) community of Nijmegen tells you what it's all about!

Faces of AvaLingua Exchange
Deepak (The Netherlands)

Fun, inspiring and motivating are my keywords to describe ALE.

I can offer Spanish and Dutch during the exchange meetings, and I am trying to practice more German and French. I used to be able to speak French and German and now I want to improve my skills for travelling mostly. When it's possible again, I would like to visit my friends in Germany. Instead of doing everything in English, I would like to be able to speak their languages. In this way, I can really feel myself as a local person rather than a tourist.

My essential suggestion for language lovers would be 'join a group such as ALE' because the best thing you can do, is to immerse yourself in the language. And the other suggestion would be to change the language of your movies and series to your target language. Nowadays, we all have online subscriptions for movies, etc. so just use them! For example, I am watching Friends in German.

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Jens (Germany)

My three words to describe ALE will be in different languages. Gezellig (NL), divertido (ES), lehrreich (DE).

In general, my motivation is learning any language. My first choice was Portuguese but then I thought it was easier to find people to speak Spanish with. So currently, I am learning Spanish because I have quite a few friends who are Spanish natives and it gives me a lot of motivation to speak with them in their own native language. I also especially like the music from Latin America. It would be so nice to know what they are singing about.

I can share some tricks with you that you can use on your language journey. For example, change the language of your computer or phone to the language that you want to learn. Another trick is to select your target language in the audio guide while you are in a museum. Then you can pick the second guide in the language that you are really good at and compare.

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Alankrita (India)

My motivation for learning Dutch is my work and my willingness to live in the NL for a longer period. I need to read a lot of Dutch documents in the office and it motivates me to learn and practice more.

I would say two tips for learning languages.

The first one, you have to be regular. If you take one class per week, you still have to put some time in. I know it's difficult sometimes to take some time for it, but even if you put 15 min on a daily basis, that's great. It makes a huge huge difference and you’ll notice it.

The second tip is don't force yourself. Give yourself time to digest it rather than giving it a deadline. If you put a deadline on yourself, it becomes stressful and stress doesn't help to learn a new language. I am easily following that rule on my AvaLingua experience a lot. It’s here more like trying to use the language, you’ll get through it. Good luck all!

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Denys (Ukraine)

My three words to describe AvaLingua Exchange (ALE): positive, knowledgeable, fun.

The best moments of ALE for me were when I succeeded speaking Dutch because my goal to join the meetings was to practice Dutch. But so many times something funny occurs during the conversations. So I would say the best moments are about achieving to speak Dutch and all the funny parts.

At the moment, I’m only learning Dutch. But sometimes I also practice my German, which I learned in highschool and I could speak it very well. So, I thought it would be very nice to practice it at the ALE meetings as well. But the thing is that the languages German and Dutch are easy to mix up - I apologize to all the people that had to hear the mix: ‘Sorry, guys I couldn’t help it! (Note from ALE: Of course, we forgive you.. it’s part of the learning process!) 🙂

When I was still following the Dutch course AvaLingua, I had a learning routine, consisting of: watching NOS and educational videos at YouTube, and doing 100% of my homework 😉 and of course practicing during the lessons. With German it’s different, right now I’m temporarily back home at my parents house and they have a huge TV - which I didn’t have in my student house in The Netherlands. Here, they have the Deutsche Welle, so I started listening more often to the German language by watching TV.

Do you have some tips for learning languages? I think practice is very important. If you don’t have any native speakers around you to practice with, you could do the same as I did during the first wave: sit down, get text books and try to do it by yourself. At least you will understand the grammar and have some vocabulary. Later on, you will have the opportunity to apply it. Make the best out of it!

I wish you all a very merry christmas and a happy new year!

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Polina (Russia)

I would describe AvaLingua Exchange (ALE) in three words. The first one that comes to my mind is inspirational because you always see and hear people from different backgrounds. Secondly, it's always useful as you can practice the languages you want to learn at the ALE meetings. The last word easy-going says how I feel every time in the meeting. The atmosphere is very enjoyable. Despite shrinking social circles due to this pandemic, we still managed to connect in such meetings. I personally found it amazing.

I’m learning new languages mostly for very practical reasons, except Dutch. My hometown Pskov in Northwest Russia is the sister city of Nijmegen. So Dutch was also one of the language courses promoted in the university. Back then, I couldn't imagine that I would end up in the Netherlands after learning Dutch for almost 5 years. Since I’m living in the Netherlands, I have some struggles at this moment to keep my German alive. So I really give high hope to ALE meetings to help me out.

One important tip I would like to share is to stick to the language you want to learn and pretend you don’t know English. Otherwise the locals (especially in the Netherlands) are very good at distracting you from your language learning plan. 😉

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Sina (Iran)

Hmm… If I would describe AvaLingua Exchange in three words, it would be: integrative, communicative, and collaborative.

I would assure you that 99.9% of the sessions that I’ve had were nice. But the thing that I love about it the most, is that there is a common shared idea behind this concept. All the people here are here for the same goal: to share the language. Learning a language means that you want to communicate and to me this is very respectable. It shows that human beings are so social. Since, we are still at home right now, we are not able to go out and socialize enough but these online events are a fabulous opportunity.

At the moment, I am learning Dutch and I hope with the help of people here, I will be able to master it. I don't have a settled routine because I am a student. So I don't really have enough time to practice Dutch but I try to watch videos and my Dutch classes will start soon. Also, I have some friends who teach me sometimes some good phrases.

I’m a language fan and that's why I am studying linguistics. Apart from communicating with the nice people of The Netherlands, I’m also motivated to learn Dutch in order to find a job.

My only suggestion, to learn a language, would be to communicate with local people. This is the healthiest exercise to learn a language. If you are a beginner you need to build it up with someone who can lead you through the process, and then you’ll find your way in your target language to gain better skills.

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Patrick (The Netherlands)

Cozy, organized and learning are summing up my experience with AvaLingua Exchange.

I’m Dutch with a Czech root from my grandfather's side. In order to communicate better with my relatives who are still living in Prague (and don’t speak English unfortunately), I need to learn Czech. It’s been difficult for me to start systematically but I finally got a private tutor who will guide me for 6 months! I’m really excited about it and hopefully I can achieve my goal!

Besides Dutch, English and my rusty German, I also speak some basic Dutch sign language. I learned it by doing my master thesis in an organization. In parallel to this, I also learned more about the deaf culture to have a better understanding about this. I realized language without words is as important and beautiful as other languages.

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Inna (Ukraine)

The three words to describe AvaLingua Exchange would be: fun, new contacts, and challenge.

I must say my best moments of ALE were when the meetings were still live. It was extra nice then because physically you were talking in person and you could touch and share the moment together. But because of Corona we don't have this opportunity right now.

Now, I am learning French and also Spanish but I am not ready to practice it yet. As a routine, I read a lot of books, some philosophical stuff just to practice and to get some grammar and I am having classes.

My motivation to learn French is based on the dream I had, when I was a kid, and actually I still have the dream. My dream is to understand all the people and their culture. Back then, I was fascinated with French people. Now, I love the feeling when I am talking in French and I love how I change my personality and all these feelings. I love to open up new sides of people when they speak different languages.

I would suggest learning any kind of language should be through a passion. If you are passionate about philosophy or biking, read about it in your target language and you will explore a new path to learn the language better. And of course speaking with native speakers will be my suggestion for all language learners too!

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Joao (Brazil)

My keywords to describe ALE are: opportunity, friendship, and fun!

There is one best thing that I like the most about ALE is, especially for me now, with these online meetings, it's a big opportunity for me to keep in touch with different people from all over the world. Because, currently I am not living in the Netherlands. However, I am focused on learning ‘Nederlands’. Because in my case, it's the way I found to stay connected to the good times and good moments that I had when I lived in The Netherlands. It's also the best way to keep my brain active.

This is my routine about language learning: I am trying to watch many videos on YouTube every day while I am eating. Also, I am playing many songs on Spotify every day. And during the weekend, I take some virtual classes with a Dutch teacher who lives in Brazil.

I have a few quick tips about language learning: stay connected with people, watch movies, listen to music and be curious and open minded!

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Mark (The Netherlands)

I would describe AvaLingua as: meet, share and be surprised.

The best thing about AvaLingua Exchange is: there are people that you just see maybe once in a lifetime or a few times, you meet here someone and you become very good friends.

I’m learning/practicing Spanish at this moment and I am trying to speak every day with friends who are all native Spanish speakers. Especially these days, Netflix is quite handy and effective because you learn how native people express themselves.

I started to learn Spanish because I wanted to travel to South America and to have real conversations with people, you need to speak the language at a fluent level. Better your language skills, better the conversation that you can actually have with people on a daily basis. Now my goal is to achieve this!

I would recommend sharing the language with native people. So the AvaLingua exchange! Because it's exactly what we do here! Then it goes beyond some textbooks, and its brilliant use of why we have languages and what you can achieve with language, so start as soon as possible!

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Lisa (Germany)

I would describe AvaLingua as: communicative, gezellig and fun. I’ve been joining AvaLingua meeting when we still can met each other offline. I have to say I still enjoy every moment I’m with AvaLingua although we can only talk via Zoom. The vibe doesn’t change at all.

I’m learning Dutch at this moment because I live in this country. Being able to speak the language and learning its unique culture are quite important to me. I start to learn Dutch via DuoLingo and await my language school to start a new lesson. Thanks for my German background, I can already pick up conversations in the street or in the supermarket. I have no fear of making mistakes. From the language school, it’s difficult because the teacher has to teach the correct terms. But in practice, everybody (even the native speakers) make mistakes.

There is no need to feel self-conscious and stop talking, you just have to keep the conversation going and keep talking!

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Christel (The Netherlands)

For more than three years, I've been joining ALE. I could describe ALE as: gezellig (a hard word to translate into English), friendly environment and gaining knowledge. After all these years, I can still remember my best moment at ALE. It was the first time that I dared to practice my Spanish. Thankfully on that evening, I matched with a Colombian girl who didn’t speak English and Dutch. I was anxious to talk with my three weeks of Spanish knowledge. However, the only language that we had in common was Spanish. We took a pen and a paper, and we started painting and laughing. Believe me or not, I still remember every word that I learned that evening back in 2017. If you learn the language in a fun way, and you’re maybe a bit nervous, it can stick to you more.

Currently, I am rolling from Spanish to French, and sometimes German with the same feelings. Once you start to learn a few languages, then it gets easier to learn more. You will know the system or the best way for you to study. For me it works to just surround myself with the language. I like joining ALE, using apps, practicing with my language partner in Lyon. Also I love to listen to podcasts while running, it’s a passive but powerful way of learning.

After working 17 years as an engineer, I changed my career and I started to copywrite. That’s why I got more interested in languages. My tip for you would be: ‘Don't be afraid to speak. Just go for it!’

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Ekrem (Iraq)

My description of ALE would be: joy, languages, and cultures.

Three months before my friend Hasan recommended me to join the ALE meetings, and since the first day, I’ve been enjoying it a lot. I have been living for six years in Turkey. However, I still have some trouble with understanding the books in Turkish. That’s why I want to practice and learn more. Also, I want to keep my English knowledge fresh, just because I give classes in English.

Speaking with people face to face, and online meetings with ALE composes my learning routine. By talking with people, I learn the most used idioms, sayings and the daily used language. My biggest motivation is to become a Turkish citizen soon. Even if later I will go abroad to complete my postdoc, I want to come back to live in the country which I love, Turkey.

As a tip to learn a language, I would say not to give up and keep practicing to reach your goal. After all, It will bring the sweetest moments of life.

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Paulina (Mexico)

I could describe AvaLingua Exchange as a connection with the world, a goal, and easy to learn with!

My best memories of ALE are: the very kind people, everyone I met was very patient, and they all have good vibes around them. I’m learning English with a professor, and our sessions take 3 hours a day. Besides that, I am studying by myself as well as watching movies, listening to music, and practicing with Duolingo. I have liked English since I was young and I want to use the language for work and I would like to teach English to my kids.

I would say to the learners: "Just don't give up!"

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Jan (The Netherlands)

I would describe ALE as ‘connection, practice, and fun’.

I joined ALE recently and it has been fun! Practicing Chinese (Mandarin) with Emma was hilarious. Since I am working in China, my main target is to practice Chinese right now. But Chinese is a difficult language; it takes a lot of energy to continue speaking. As a speaker of 7 different languages, it's not that easy. Yes, it's fun, and also it's all about perseverance.

It’s important to make your language learning journey fun. Listening to podcasts or watching series is a good tip because it has different nuances than texts in books. Moreover, my main motivation to learn languages is to connect with other cultures. It's also my motto in life. The best way to learn the speaking language is to talk with the native speakers.

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Laura (Colombia)

My keywords about ALE would be multicultural, fun and easy to learn languages with.

There are two things that I like a lot about ALE; the first is helping other people with their Spanish. I saw that a lot of people want to learn Spanish, which is really cool! And the other one, when I'm practicing Dutch, which is the language I am learning right now. I also feel a bit proud of myself when I manage to talk Dutch.

After every session, although it is challenging and tiring, I feel super nice. I don’t have a learning routine because I am a bit lazy, but I try to join the ALE meetings every week, so I can practice at least 1 hour of speaking Dutch. Also I try to read the newspaper or listen to the radio; even sometimes I try to listen to my colleagues. Being in the environment is the best practice ever! In this way, I try to absorb as much as I can. I know that when I have better language skills, I can have a better position at work. So my primary motivation to learn Dutch is for my work.

The best tip from me would be "Just trying is already good enough, so don't give up!"

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Henrique (Brazil)

I will describe ALE as: fun, connection, and friendly!

It's a bit difficult to choose the best moment in ALE because it's always nice to be here. I enjoy every session when I speak Dutch. Because for now, I am learning Dutch, and ALE provides a friendly opportunity for being in contact with native speakers.

My routine is not that methodical, but learning a language, which works really well for me, is reading the text while listening to it. And I try to keep watching some videos on YouTube with subtitles at least 45 minutes a day. You don't have to be very well organized, it helps if you are, but you just need to keep exposing yourself with the language as much as you can. Well, just constant exposure and to be consistent is the key. I mean, the root of my motivation to learn Dutch is because I’m living in The Netherlands, so to get to know the country on a deeper level, it’s better to learn Dutch. I like to follow what's going on around me and I think it's very important.

So I can suggest listening to whatever you want, but if you have the transcript with it, it's perfect. In this way, you can get how the words are pronounced; you can get the melody of the language. And there are several ways to achieve a high level, all you need to do is keep walking and keep climbing.

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Hassan (Iraq)

I could describe AvaLingua Exchange as: amazing, interesting, and fantastic! It’s so hard to describe my feelings: all amazing feelings!

I’m living in Iraq, but my brother is living in Nijmegen and he invited me to join the online AvaLingua Exchange meetings. This is the third time that I’m joining the @ HOME meetings. I’m thankful for my brother that he invited me to join. I’m learning English because later I will study a master chemistry in Poland.

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