Speed Date Speaking Practice

First off, a quick update on the iTalki challenge. I’m now 2.75 hours in with 7.25 hours to go! Yikes! Ten hours sounded like such a small amount but with two cancelled lessons last week, I’ll have to complete 2.5 hours of practice every week to complete on time. Considering my former italki schedule was one lesson every other week at most — this is a real game changer.

One great thing about this challenge is that it’s forced me to venture outside my comfort zone and seek out new teachers. I loved the first tutor I tried on iTalki and have since only booked with her — but as scheduling overseas chats multiple times a week can be a real pain, I’ve opened up to trying new tutors and am finding it only helps to have a variety of native speakers to practice with.

But that wasn’t the only way I manned up in my French studies! A few weeks ago I attended Speak Easy, a language exchange hosted by French Morning at the Alliance Française de Los Angeles.


The event worked like this: an even number of French native speakers and English speakers reserved places to attend. French native speakers sat on one side of a long table, and English native speakers on the other. Our host moderated the time and allowed seven minutes of speaking in French followed by seven minutes of speaking only in English before switching partners and starting over again.

I was sure that it would be impossible to find an even number of native French speakers to try their patience at a bunch of Americans bumbling in French, but alas! It was a fun mix of young and old, French and American — all very helpful and patient. All in all, I spoke with four people one-on-one and would attend again in a heartbeat! It was so gratifying to find myself in real conversations with real French people in real life.

A tip if you plan on attending an event like this: bring business cards. Seriously, you may never have an opportunity to make this many French friends in your city again. If you don’t have real business cards, do as I did and make up a handful of scrappy ones on printer paper:


They might look cheap compared to the nice business cards I received in return — but I was glad to have something to pass off to people in the hopes of meeting up again, or even to have something to write down recommended books or movies we discussed.

Have you attended a language exchange? Have any to recommend? Comment below!

À la prochaine,


  1. zipfslaw1 · February 28, 2016

    This sounds great. I found a link to a web site for a group that does this in Paris on the Lawless French web site–on your recommendation, I’ll check it out, and I’ll be sure to bring business cards!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Zena W. · February 28, 2016

      Awesome! I’m so glad to hear you found one. I think you will have a great time!


  2. zipfslaw1 · February 28, 2016
  3. zipfslaw1 · March 12, 2016

    So, I went for the first time this week, and it was as good as you said it would be. Nice learning experience.


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