Recently I have been quite isolated and haven’t met many people, either friends or language partners. As I will explain in another post, I have found out that socialising in Taiwan can be a quite difficult thing. During the last couple of weeks, although my body was in Taiwan, my mind was somewhere else: in a neutral, virtual space; I watch American, German, British films and documentaries, I read all kinds of books, listen to music, go to coffee shops, all things I could do anywhere. Perhaps this is how some expats react after a long time in a foreign country, in many respects so different from their own.
Paradoxically, though I am in Taiwan I wonder how I can keep on practicing my Chinese. After meeting dozens of language exchange partners over the last few years, I have given up this face-to-face approach. This method, which theoretically should allow one both to make friends and practice foreign languages, has proved not to be very useful. I couldn’t find a single person in Taiwan I could meet regularly. People here are simply too busy with work, family and friends. Some people even see language exchange as a way to find a boyfriend (I will talk about that on another post).
Anyway, I’ve decided to try out something else: online language exchange. I can do it anywhere, I can connect with people from the whole Chinese-speaking world, and I can share thoughts and experiences with a lot of different people. Honestly, I used to be reluctant to have online LE, but perhaps I was wrong.
The first online LE partner I’ve found seems a great start. She lives and studies in Poland (and honestly, I’d never thought there were Chinese studying there), is very young and dynamic, and apparently she enjoys writing long e-mails. Her messages could be amazing textbooks. I don’t know if she does that on purpose, if she chooses the words and the topics in such a way that they are useful to me, or if she rather has a natural and unconscious talent for LE.
While reading her e-mails, I came up with the idea of sharing with other people some of the interesting or helpful words she and other people I’ve connected with use. That’s why I will be writing a “word of the day” from time to time in the next months, perhaps they’ll be beneficial to the one or the other person who studies or is curious about Chinese.