Language Exchange with a Native Speaker? Good Luck
The ground is shaky. From my experience, the rule of thumb is that you would be numbed before you found a good conversational partner to practice with. It’s mostly the game of luck. Let’s be realistic; even speaking in native language, a good conversational partner is in a short supply.
I knew I’m a pretty bad one. By all means, I’m no where near clinical egomaniac. But during a typical conversation, whenever someone said something—or anything—to me, I couldn’t wait till he finished before jumping in with “Yes, that reminds me when I…”. Then my big mouth wouldn’t shut up for next five minutes—ten minutes, if not the other guy was yawning. I take it as human nature; as the privileged species, we all love ourselves more than anyone else. True or not, thinking that way make me feel less guilty.
Every once a while, the other guy might get lucky. I was humble and not talking about Me Me Me in every other sentence. This was usually when I got carried away talking about things. And I do have a few hot spots, such as politics, to bake. It only worked well, however, if the other guy is also as nut as I am about politics. Otherwise, I was practically tone deaf; even he’s talking about his recent trip to Paris, I could easily turn it a political debate—starting with whether Sarkozy’s victory signaled the death of socialism once for all. I was sure that his fond memory of Eiffel Tower would be long gone before I launched into the bilateral relationship of the U.S. and France.
So, what is the odd to find someone who doesn’t fall in love with himself and who is actually curious about what you have to say? Less than the Socialist Party leader Royal moving into the Élysée Palace in her life time.