Are language exchanges just people looking to hook up?

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Are language exchanges just people looking to hook up?

Postby Chauncey Gardener » 02 May 2011, 00:22

Okay so if and when I go to Taiwan I was thinking I really want to try and improve my spoken/listening ability, and that one of the best ways to do this would be language exchanges, maybe meet one person each day for two hours or something. That way I'll make some friends too.

However, I mentioned this idea to a colleague who spent 5 years in Taiwan, and she said the only people doing LEs are actually looking for a chance to hook up. She implied it was some sort of casual sex free-for-all; I've got a girlfriend and this is definitely not what I'm looking for. I responded by saying "Oh, well I guess I better limit myself to LE with Chinese guys, then" but she said "well in that case you're just going to attract gay guys!" :s

Can anyone comment on the accuracy of this claim? Am I going to be fending off unwanted advances from Chinese guys and girls who have the wrong idea about why I'm seeking a LE? If so, any tips on where to search for serious LE partners? I'm going to be attending Zheng-Da so I thought I would post some ads around campus. I'll also be taking some English classes there too so I thought perhaps a Chinese student in one of those classes might want to improve their English in this way. Thoughts?
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Re: Are language exchanges just people looking to hook up?

Postby bababa » 02 May 2011, 05:41

Yes, it is basically true. There are a few people who actually want to practice a language during a language exchange, though. The trick is finding them. Sometimes a friend or colleague will ask you if you want to do a LE with someone they know; these will usually be real LEs, not just someone looking for a foreign sex partner. My Chinese teacher got me two very good LE partners - both wanted to go study in the States very soon, and so had a legitimate reason to actually study.
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Re: Are language exchanges just people looking to hook up?

Postby Fox » 02 May 2011, 09:34

However, I mentioned this idea to a colleague who spent 5 years in Taiwan, and she said the only people doing LEs are actually looking for a chance to hook up. She implied it was some sort of casual sex free-for-all; I've got a girlfriend and this is definitely not what I'm looking for.


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Re: Are language exchanges just people looking to hook up?

Postby GuyInTaiwan » 02 May 2011, 09:53

You won't have any problems. Seriously. Back in the day, when I lived in Taoyuan, I decided I wanted to do language exchange, so I put an ad on Tealit stating that I had a girlfriend at the time and was not looking for anything other than language exchange. I received several replies within a week and set up two language exchanges with two guys. Heterosexual, nerdy guys will come out of the woodwork because these guys are precisely the kinds of guys that never get to do language exchange because of all of the stereotypes about language exchange, i.e. that Western women want Taiwanese LE partners and Western men want Taiwanese LE partners who will become lovers/girlfriends. Anyway, one guy I stopped doing language exchange with after a couple of months because it just wasn't working out. More on that below. The second guy I did language exchange with for two years from the beginning of 2008 until the beginning of 2010, before leaving to travel a lot and then moving to Taidong. We met pretty well every Friday (probably more than 90%) in that time.

With the guy I dropped, it didn't work because I actually didn't think he was getting much from it. He would get really wrapped up in wanting to know really obscure grammar points rather than just talking or reading. Maybe the talking was in me trying to explain these things to him. I don't know. I guess he was happy enough with that. However, it began to affect my part of the language exchange because when we would do the Chinese part, he would inevitably start asking me about something there in English. He just kind of monopolised a lot of the Chinese time with obscure grammar questions in English.

I think language exchanges can probably work well if both parties know what they want and how they can help the other person achieve that, but one of the inherent problems with language exchange is that neither party knows either thing in most cases. Speaking your own language is not enough, unfortunately, and just working your way through a textbook (as I did) is not really the most efficient means of learning Chinese. This is merely a microcosm of how languages are taught and studied in this country though. Also, if you do it in a public place, as we did, you also have to suffer plenty of people around you becoming very interested in what you're doing, which can make you very self-conscious.
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Re: Are language exchanges just people looking to hook up?

Postby ironlady » 02 May 2011, 10:24

I've never had any sexual overtones color any language exchange I've been involved in. (OK, I'm not a model, and I'm not Taiwanese, and I don't weigh 40 kilos. And I'm a white woman, so...anyway.)

AND I met my best (female) friend through one.
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Re: Are language exchanges just people looking to hook up?

Postby steelersman » 02 May 2011, 10:27

Chauncey Gardener wrote:Okay so if and when I go to Taiwan I was thinking I really want to try and improve my spoken/listening ability, and that one of the best ways to do this would be language exchanges, maybe meet one person each day for two hours or something. That way I'll make some friends too.

However, I mentioned this idea to a colleague who spent 5 years in Taiwan, and she said the only people doing LEs are actually looking for a chance to hook up. She implied it was some sort of casual sex free-for-all; I've got a girlfriend and this is definitely not what I'm looking for. I responded by saying "Oh, well I guess I better limit myself to LE with Chinese guys, then" but she said "well in that case you're just going to attract gay guys!" :s

Can anyone comment on the accuracy of this claim? Am I going to be fending off unwanted advances from Chinese guys and girls who have the wrong idea about why I'm seeking a LE? If so, any tips on where to search for serious LE partners? I'm going to be attending Zheng-Da so I thought I would post some ads around campus. I'll also be taking some English classes there too so I thought perhaps a Chinese student in one of those classes might want to improve their English in this way. Thoughts?



I did language exchange with engineers preparing for PhD programs in the US. They never tried to hit on me. They had specific goals. I think it is best to find a student at Taiwan Normal University as opposed to looking for a language exhcange on tealit.
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Re: Are language exchanges just people looking to hook up?

Postby Dragonbones » 02 May 2011, 11:10

Chauncey Gardener wrote:she said the only people doing LEs are actually looking for a chance to hook up. She implied it was some sort of casual sex free-for-all


Emphatically not true. I've had met with many (20?) LEs over the years, and the vast majority seemed to be genuinely interested in the language learning. Only a couple seemed like they were primarily interested in meeting a guy, and only one ended up hooked up with me.
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Re: Are language exchanges just people looking to hook up?

Postby heimuoshu » 02 May 2011, 12:21

The only problem I had with LE was that one fo the langauges dominate the exchanges and thereby one person gets a lot more form it than the other. Hence my choosing to hire a one on one tutor for a fair amount of money. She was good and I don't regret it at all. My usual comment to people telling me that language exchange leads to free for all sex is "You wish mate!"
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Re: Are language exchanges just people looking to hook up?

Postby NonTocareLeTete » 02 May 2011, 12:40

To give you an idea of how cliched the whole LE hook up thing is, a couple of weeks ago, a white dude approached me in a bar and said, "Hey, do you want to do language exchange?" Keep in mind that I am an American female and he was an American guy ;)
But I think it should be easy enough to pick up a 'real' language exchange if you specify in your ad, and easy enough to tell if something is up and drop it before you cheat on your girlfriend ;)
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Re: Are language exchanges just people looking to hook up?

Postby GuyInTaiwan » 02 May 2011, 14:07

Haha. That's funny. Do you want to do language exchange? I have an interesting collection of grammar porn back at my place.
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