Innovative English Language Teaching
English Arch
Copyright © English Arch 2012                    English Arch, Miners' Hall, Flass Street, Durham City, DH1 4BE
Innovative English Language Teaching

Finding a Language Exchange Partner in Newcastle

Finding a Language Exchange Partner in Newcastle
Saturday, November 19, 2016

Improving your speaking requires practice, and one of the best ways to do that is with a language exchange partner. A language exchange is when two people from different countries get together to practice each other’s language. So, for example, if you live in Newcastle and want to practise your English, you need to find an English person that wants to practise speaking your language. The idea is that the two of you would meet up, maybe once a week, and spend 30 minutes or so speaking English and 30 minutes speaking your language. You could get together at a coffee shop, a local library and even, when you get to know each other better, each other’s houses.

Language exchanges have a number of things going for them. The obvious one is that they are free. This means that it might be possible to meet up with you partner 3 or 4 times a week. You could even have a number of different speaking partners. (Varying your partners is a good way of broadening the range of English you hear.) You will also be speaking with native speakers, so you have the potential to learn from the language they use. Are there any drawbacks? Not really. Some people argue that language exchanges are better suited to intermediate and advanced learners but I can’t see why a lower level speaker couldn’t benefit.

Sometimes it is difficult to find a speaking partner. Luckily, Newcastle is a cosmopolitan city with a large university full of English students looking to learn foreign languages so it shouldn’t be that difficult. If you are part of the university you could use the language department’s noticeboards to find a partner. If you are not part of the university, you might want to try one of the following methods:

My Language Exchange in Newcastle
This seems to be the most popular language exchange website. When I looked at it, there were over 15 people in the Newcastle area looking for partners. To create a profile, all you need to do is enter the language you speak, the language you want to learn, the type of exchange you want (mail, text, phone or face-to-face) and give a short description of yourself. If you want to use the website for free, you will have to wait for someone to contact you. Alternatively, you can pay £5.00 to become a gold member, which will allow you send emails to other members.

My Language Exchange promotes something called the Cornier Method. Instead of meeting one other person, you are encouraged to make a small group. So, for example, if it was an English – French exchange, two of the group would be native English speakers and the other two would be native French speakers. I am not sure how practical this is in reality, it might be hard to get a group together, but it is definitely an interesting idea as it would let you listen to native speakers interacting. My students often tell me that they can understand English when it is spoken directly to them, but find it much harder to understand it when it is spoken between two native speakers.

Gumtree allows you to post ads for free. Look for the Skills and Language Swap category. Each ad is left up for 30 days so you will have to repost your ad if nobody has replied to you in that time.

Gumtree might be useful if you are interested in forming a small group. Decide on a time and a place and then invite people to join you. There are a number of group language exchanges in London if you are looking for ideas on how to go about advertising one.

Open Language Exchange
This is a website that lets you post a profile and contact people for free. As with My language Exchange, you can choose to communicate online as well as face-to-face. Unfortunately, the site doesn’t seem to be very popular. Only 4 people from Newcastle have used the site this year.

Newcastle City Library’s Skills Swap Noticeboard (See photo above)
This is on level 3 of the library, next to the Business and IP Centre. If you can’t find anybody looking to practise your language, just fill in one of the cards with your details and slide it into one of the slots on the board. Blank cards can be found on the board and once a card has been put up, there is no time limit on how long it can be left for.

To find out the library’s opening hours and location go to:

How to get the most out of your language exchange in Newcastle

Materials – One of the biggest problems when doing a language exchange is running out of things to talk about. The My Language Exchange website has lesson plans that you can use. Alternatively, feel free to use our materials:
General questions (15 Topics)
Making questions using WH words

Timing – be sure to spend the same amount of time on each language. You may be tempted to spend longer on the language that you and your partner feel more comfortable with.

- In order to make the most of your meeting, I would recommend preparing. Try and find some language (vocabulary or grammar) that you would like to use. For example, if your topic of conversation is going to be the environment, read some articles about the environment, pick out some useful words and phrases, and then use those words and phrases when you meet your partner. You could have the words and phrases on a piece of paper, or better still, you could learn them beforehand.

– Let your partner know how much you would like to be corrected. If you are looking to improve fluency, I would suggest telling your partner to only correct you when you repeatedly make the same mistake or if your meaning is unclear. If you are looking to improve the accuracy of your speaking, you could ask then to be more critical.

Tips for Studying English by Yourself

Tips for Studying English by Yourself
Friday, June 16, 2017

Improving your English takes time.  On average, it takes a full-time English student 6 months to go from one English level to the next, from elementary to lower-intermediate, for example.  For a full-time IELTS student, it usually takes 3 months to go from one band to the next.   If you are not studying full-time at an English school you will need to find time to study by yourself.  Here are some ideas to get you going:

Have a plan
Having a plan is a great way to get you studying regularly.  The more specific you can be with your plan the better.   For example, you could say which exercises you are going to do or how many pages of a book you are going to read.  As well as writing your plan, take some time to prepare all the materials in advance.  You may need to bookmark certain pages in textbooks or printout materials.  Have them ready on your desk each day.
Download our self-study planner.

Try to create a habit 
You are more likely to continue studying if you can make it a habit.  A considerable amount of research has been done on habit forming.  Whether it is a new exercise regime, learning a musical instrument or studying a language, it is thought that the process within our brains is a three-step loop (see above).

The first step is the cue.  This is the thing that tells your brain to start the habit. For example, if you have a smoking habit your cue might be drinking coffee with friends.  Whenever you drink coffee with your friends you feel the need to smoke.  There are different cues for different habits.  Examples of cues include:
    Getting back from work
    Putting the children to bed
    Feeling bored
    A lunch break
    A time of day (set the alarm on your mobile phone)
    Meeting a particular person

Try to decide on a cue for studying English.  When are you going to study?  What needs to happen for you to start studying?

The second step in the loop is the routine.  In our case, this would be studying English. 

The reward comes after the routine.  The reward is supposed to tell the brain that the loop is worth remembering, and can be physical or emotional. Possible rewards include:
    Eating chocolate
    Time watching TV
    Time on social media
    The sense of accomplishment got from following a study plan
    A feeling of pride

Before you start studying, think about what your reward will be.  What will you get when you finish studying?  What would motivate you to study?  What would you look forward to getting?

Make it easy for yourself
At the beginning, it is more important to get into the habit of studying than to learn English, and you are more likely to sit at your desk and study if the work you have set for yourself is easy.  If you choose material which is too difficult for you, you are going to find it harder to keep studying.  To begin with, I would recommend choosing texts and listening that you can understand at least 80% of. 

Use a buddy for support
It is difficult to study regularly. You may find that it helps to talk to someone in the same situation as you.  If you use English Arch’s Skype Buddies, you can use your Skype Buddy for support.   You and your Skype Buddy could ask each other the following questions at the start of each skype session:
    Did you follow your plan this week?  If not. why not?
    How long did you study for?
    Which activities did you find interesting?
    In which activities did you learn the most?
    What are you finding difficult (grammar, vocabulary etc.)
    Have you found any good self-study materials?

Museum Treasure Hunts

Museum Treasure Hunts
Saturday, June 17, 2017

Do you live in the North East?  Are you looking for something to do this weekend?  Why not try one of our museum treasure hunts?  They’re a great way to learn about our region and practise your English.

How to follow the treasure hunts

1   Download the museum map and multiple-choice questions.
2   Go to the starting point on the map.
3   Read the first question.
4   Use the information you find at the starting point to answer the first question.  If you answer the question correctly, you will be sent to the place where you can answer the next question.   If you get the answer wrong, you will be sent to the wrong place and won’t be able to answer the next question.
5   Keep moving around the museum until you have answered all the questions.

I’m afraid there is no physical treasure at the end - only the satisfaction of finishing.

Discovery Museum, Newcastle
At the Discovery Museum, you can find out about the history of Newcastle, its maritime (connected with the sea) past, its military history and the many inventions that have come from the area.

Download Discovery Museum Treasure Hunt
Find the Discovery Museum on Google Maps
Go to the Discovery Museum Website

Great North Museum, Newcastle
The Great North Museum is a natural history museum, so it has current and historical records of plants and animals.  There are a number of displays showing the diversity of the animal kingdom.  The museum also houses some interesting objects from the ancient civilisations of Greece and Egypt.

Download Great North Museum Treasure Hunt
Find the Great North Museum on Google Maps
Go to the Great North Museum Website

Sunderland Museum
Sunderland Museum is a museum and an art gallery.  You can find out about the history of Sunderland, from its prehistoric (before written records) past to the present day. 
The art gallery features paintings by L S Lowry (an English artist, famous for painting industrial landscapes) together with Victorian masterpieces.

Download Sunderland Museum Treasure Hunt
Find the Sunderland Museum on Google Maps
Go to the Sunderland Museum Website

If you manage to finish one of our treasure hunts, let us know.  We would love to hear from you.

English Arch Blog
Even if you live in the UK, it is not always easy to find opportunities to speak English. It is often difficult to make friends when your level of English is low, and speaking to people in shops and restaurants isn't usually challenging enough.  This blog, written by English Arch's teachers, looks at ways in which you can use your English outside the classroom.


Downloads  |  Privacy Policy  |  Terms & Conditions  |  Useful Websites