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4. Find native speakers in your community

You might be surprised to find that there is an individual or family or even a whole community of native speakers where you live. Visit a language department or the international programs office at a local college or university and ask if there are any foreign students who speak the language you're learning. These students are often far away from home and will appreciate establishing lasting and meaningful contacts during their stay. Plan activities together, take turns cooking meals traditional to your respective countries, or even invite them to spend holidays with your family. They will also be pleased to meet people who show a genuine interest in getting to know them and their culture.

Beyond the university, you could place an ad in the local newspaper expressing a desire to practice your language skills. You might offer to teach your own language in return. Often you need only find one native speaker to open up the floodgates. They usually know where the others are lurking and how to contact them.


5. Join or start a conversation group

Another way to connect with others who share your language interest is to join a local conversation group. Ask at local colleges and universities if such groups already exist. If not, start one of your own! Advertise at colleges and place a public announcement in the newspaper noting the date, time, and place of the first meeting. If at first you have no takers, don't dismay. The information takes some time to disseminate and reach the right people. Establish a fixed meeting time and place, say, each Tuesday at 6:00pm or the first Wednesday of every month at 5:00pm, and you are likely to eventually attract some participants.


6. Visit an ethnic restaurant

An ethnic restaurant is not only a place to enjoy some traditional cuisine, but it's also a place to connect with native speakers and find out what related events are going on in your region. Check the Yellow Pages under Restaurants in your area. If you are willing to travel, check the closest metropolitan area near you. Larger cities are more likely to host a variety of ethnic cuisines and populations.



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