Language Partner is an often misused phrase that can be a euphemism
for many things:
Of course the last
of these is the subject here.
Learning a second language (or third or fourth) is hard. Very hard. For reasons discussed elsewhere, people
need difficult languages! One of the things that can assist or accelerate second language acquisition, is another person who is a
native speaker of that language, and who is learning your native tongue. Together you can enjoy focused and detailed conversations that benefit the both of you. As so much of language is culture, explaining why things are a certain way in your country tends to provoke the obvious helpful comparisons.
Hence the term "language partner". Note it's never "language buddy".
There are some types of people who generally make poor language partners:
All of these categories initially seem a good idea
for a language partner relationship. But an ideal language partner meeting
And each of
the types warned against are deficient
in one or more of these areas.
Finally, not too many language partners! The best language partners are
people you naturally want to spend time with. Don't see someone once a
week for three hours if you wouldn't normally want to see them that often for that
long. Language partnership should be fun, not yet another homework chore!
A classic trap for someone learning another language by immersion is to grasp the "native tongue" lifeline that a language partner can represent (A chance to talk in your native tounge as homework! What's not to love?!) and spend less time on "real" homework, like working with your voice recorder (You're not doing this?! You're missing an important trick), working on your written language exercises, or simply getting out into the world and using your new langauge with native speakers who don't speak your mother tongue.