Taking pen friendship to the next level: How I study Russian with Whatsapp
During my stay in St.Petersburg I was learning so many new words and phrases in Russian and started to think of ways to use them in everyday life. But with whom should I speak? I didn’t know anyone in Saint Petersburg and throughout the week I was usually very busy. As I took out my phone to ask my friends for help, I came up with an idea: Why not find someone who would like to exchange whatsapp messages with me in Russian? That way I could practice everything I have learned so far in class and get direct feedback on my performance. Hence, I took out my laptop and did some research on Couchsurfing -a web community for travelers and people who are interested in intercultural exchange- to find myself a pen pal. As it turned out, there were different groups, where I could post my search, but the most active one and therefore the one I would recommend you to join is called ‘Language Exchange!’. In less than a day people from Kazakhstan, Russia and the Ukraine offered to help me. Generally speaking, if you are a fluent speaker of English, you will not have problems with finding a language exchange partner. Let’s have a look at why finding a pen pal is a great way to study languages:
Advantages of studying languages via Whats App
You learn popular idioms and phrases that are commonly used in spoken language, but hardly ever found in teaching books.
When exchanging messages with someone, you see the actual words in front of you and therefore know how to look them up in case they are new to you.
Studying by conversations is interesting, because it is personal!
You get to ask questions not only about vocabulary words and grammar, but also about everyday life, politics and culture, so that you get a great impression of the country, whose language you are studying.
Study whenever and wherever: All you need is your phone and wifi. (And if you are a real nerd like me, you will also have a notebook to write down interesting phrases).
Also: It is for free!
Studying Russian via Whatsapp has turned out to be a great way for me to integrate studying Russian into my everyday live. I noticed how exchanging messages with my pen pal helped me to remember new vocabulary better and also how I learned new vocabulary through my pen pal, just on the side. Also, practicing the language outside from school was a great way for me to lower my fear of making mistakes. I know that my pen pal will correct me, if I say something really wrong, but other than that he cares more about the act of speaking than about my mistakes. Additionally, a really big plus for me is that having a pen pal is a social way of learning a language. Actually, right now the language has become just the means by which I am getting to know a great person. For me this is the best motivation to study a language: getting to know great people, exchanging ideas and getting an understanding of how ways of living and thinking differ from country to country.
I hope, I could inspire you to start your own international Whatsapp language exchange, and wish you all the best while chatting and studying with your new friend!
This blog was brought to you by Ayla Opatz, currently studying Russian at Liden & Denz.