Finding Conversation Partners

In my post about Language Learning Tips, one of my main points is that you actually have to engage in a certain activity if you want to get better at it. For example, if you want to learn how to talk in Japanese, you need to find Japanese speakers and talk with them as much as possible. However, as with all things in life, that’s easier said than done. So, I’m here to talk about how you (yes, YOU!) can go about finding language conversation partners.

I’ve become very familiar with this topic because I recently moved back to the US and am finding that you really have to go out of your way to find people to practice with even in an international city like Seattle. However, within the past few months, I have found not only Japanese people to chat with but also Chinese people for my burgeoning (ie poor) Mandarin.

Finding real life partners

Real life language partners are better than any form of online partners because of the real-time interaction and improved physical inputs (ie gestures and facial expressions). That all sounds like techno mumbo-jumbo but it just means the best 3D environment can be found by turning off your computer and (gasp!) actually going outside.

Personally, I’ve had great luck with, which is a site for creating meetups on any topic. I met a bunch of great people by going to meetups like the Seattle Japanese Language and Culture Meetup or the Seattle Chinese Language Meetup.

Meeting in a group is always a great opportunity to practice speaking and listening to the language of your choice but you can’t beat 1 on 1 language exchange. It is the best way to really ask questions and practice at your current language level. In Japan, because English is such a popular language, it’s a cinch to find people willing to teach you Japanese in exchange for English lessons. You can check out your local 市役所 for activities or bulletin boards at your school. Or if you can navigate through the Japanese interface, you can also check out language-related communities at, the biggest Japanese social network site. (You can ask me for an invite if you’re interested.)

If you’re not living in Japan, there are still some ways to find offline language partners depending on where you live. You can post or look for an ad on Craigslist . You might also want to check with your local community, nearby schools, etc. for events and opportunities to meet with people who speak Japanese.

When I was learning Japanese, it was easy for me to find Japanese friends on the college campus. However, now that I’m already out of school, I have to do a bit more work to find people to practice my Chinese. I found my first language partner (English/Chinese through Japanese) in Japan through international activities held by 川口 city. (国際化 is kind of a fad at the moment for municipal governments.) In the states, I found a language partner through Craigslist (English/Chinese through English) and another through a Chinese meetup (Chinese/Japanese through English). Because everybody speaks English in the States, you have to be a bit more aggressive and enthusiastic to get somebody to want to learn English from you. Unlike the case in Japan, people won’t be like, “Please teach me English!” because they see English everywhere. Now that the shoe’s on the other foot, you need to be like, “Please teach me Japanese! I can teach you English!”

Finding online partners

While real life partners are great and at some point indispensable, you might want to find online conversation partner if some of the conditions below apply to you.

  1. There are very few to no Japanese speakers in your area.
  2. You want to talk from the comfort of your home without spending the time and/or money on transportation.
  3. Your schedule or those of other people makes finding the time to meet with people in real life difficult.
  4. Your time with real-life language partners are just not enough and you want more practice! More! More!

Mixxer is a great site for finding a conversation partner on Skype. Now Mixxer has its downsides such as almost no search capabilities and not being able to sort search results but it gets the job done, which is simply to get in contact with somebody to do language exchange. And it’s free so you really can’t complain.

All you have to do is register and fill out your profile, which is very simple (because it doesn’t try to be an international dating site), look for people that match your language profile, and contact them via the site, Skype, or email. That’s it. It’s simplicity is it’s best feature and it really does its one job well: finding somebody who wants to learn your language and speaks the language you want to learn.

I tried out the site and there are surprisingly a large number of people registered. I’ve had all sorts of Chinese speakers contact me either through the Mixxer or Skype. As a native English speaker, I’m sure you won’t have much trouble finding a Japanese speaker to talk to. The only drawback is that the time lag makes it difficult to arrange a time and it’s far too easy to slack off. There’s nothing like having to actually go out to meet somebody to really motivate you to keep studying. Another thing to be careful about is if neither of you speaks a language in common to some degree, there can be a bit of communication breakdown. If you are a complete beginner at Japanese, you really need to find somebody that speaks at least some English.


I hope you got some good ideas on how to go about finding your own language partner because you’ll never learn how to speak Japanese until you actually go out and practice speaking it for real. I’ll also talk about how to make the best of your time with your language partner once you’ve found one so stay tuned!

41 thoughts on “Finding Conversation Partners


    Here’s a good site for finding language partners. It’s well organised and pretty popular. You can talk to people with typing or with a microphone. The only problem is the time lag.

  2. Hmm… it says I already sent one to your detective email address. Are you sure it’s not in your spam folder or anything?

  3. hello Lasar! I love your site, it is awesome! Here is my story in a nutshell:
    I lived in Japan from 95-99 and now live in Maine with my husband and 3 kids. I’m looking for Japanese Women to talk to via email or blogs, exchange family pics, etc… Am I allowed to join mixi since I don’t live in Japan? if I can join I’d love an invite… if not do you know where I can safely meet my target group? I kept in touch with many of my “students” in Japan but all are older men with grown children. 🙂 thanks for your help

  4. Sure, I will send you an invite. Mixi can be used anywhere for keeping in touch with friends (who also use Mixi of course). It’s not too good for meeting new people unless you live in Japan.

    BTW, who is Lasar?

  5. Hello, I wanted to say you have a nice site here. May I also request for an invite for mixi? Thank you.

  6. I’ve been learning A LOT from your site for the past 2 1/2 years now. My greatest appreciation for your kind work! Also, I’d like to hop on the bandwagon and ask if it’s okay to be invited.


  7. Hello Tae Kim,

    I have been studying Japanese on my own for a few years. Thanks for all the great info!

    If its not too late, could you please send me a mixi invite? Thanks for your help.

  8. Ok, all the invites have been sent out.

    By the way, there are communities (basically forums and events) for people learning Japanese or English as well. You should check them out from my communities page.

  9. Hi, Tea Kim.
    I’ve learn Japanese for about 2 years, but I am not good at speaking and listenning. Can you please send me a mixi invite? Thanks a lot for your help.

  10. Hi,

    This was a good article, I was just looking at the mixi ste and wanted to know if you would be able to invite me to mixi.

    I am studing Japanese in college and would like to make some friends from Japan.

    Thanks so much.

  11. i would really appreciate and be eternally greatrul for a mixi invite, im a japanese student am im looking forward to visiting japan this summer,

  12. hi there. I’m also interested to learn japanese via mixi. Could you send me an invite please?

    “I can teach you english!” 😛

  13. Konnichiwa!I live in Japan and I have been learning japanese for the past 4 months.I would love to be invited to mixi,I would gladly appreciate.Honto ni arigato gozaimus….

  14. Hi! I’m german student learning japanese. Could you please send me a invitation? Many thanks!

  15. Hello. I am currently teaching in japan. I am doing the JLPT in December and I really need to practice! I was wondering if you could send me an invite to mixi too. Onegaishimasu!

    I really like the site by the way.

  16. Hello ! im studying japanese rigth now, and i will really appreciate if you could send me an invitation to mixi, your site is awesome : ) keep on the good work

  17. I studied at sophia univ 10 years ago and trying to find old friends. An invite would be appreciated. Much thanks.

  18. I’ll go to Japan soon, and I’d like to know people before getting there. Would you mind sending me a mixi invitation please 🙂 Thanks (Sorry, I missed the last batch…)

  19. I’d like to get a mixi invitation, too. Great website. I’m starting to learn Japanese, but would like some more practice as well.

  20. Hi Tae,

    I will appreciate if you could send me a mixi invite^^
    I attempt to join mixi to push my self-learning for Japaness.
    I live in Taiwan, and also have my own blog, of course, a Traditional Chiness blo–>(

    So, thanks anyway.

  21. Hi Kim, phew after all this while, finally, a japanese learning site that’s worth reading! Im from Indonesia and would like to know more about the language. Is it possible for me to get a mixi invite as well? THanks!!

  22. Hi!
    Thanks for the great content 🙂
    I’ve been interested in joining mixi to try catch up with japanese friends i’ve lost touch with.
    Could you send me an invite too?
    Thanks a bunch!

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