My friend just sent me an article about a tool being utilized at an English school in São Paulo, Brazil. The school is called CNA, and the tool is called a Speaking Exchange. CNA decided to connect their students with senior citizens in a retirement home in Chicago, USA. The exchange is in English. And it’s wonderful to view the conversations. Not only do the students improve their English, but they do so by connecting on a human level with another human being. For after all, what is the purpose to language? Communication; communicating with one another on a personal level.
Having participated in many language exchanges, as I was watching the above video I felt that there was an element that I don’t often see in language exchanges. I think it may be because in most language exchanges the primary focus is on exchanging services. Yes it is done through communication. But I am helping you learn/practice English, and you are helping me learn/practice your native language. In these Speaking Exchanges the primary focus is on developing a human connection, a new relationship, a new friendship. The language learning and practice becomes secondary.