A lot of students know that one of the best ways to learn English is to talk to native speakers. However, most of us don’t feel comfortable asking an American stranger on the street to speak with us. It can be challenging to make friends with people in a foreign country, especially if you are still learning their language.
One of the best ways to make friends who speak English, is to connect through hobbies and interests you have in common. For example, when I was studying in Germany, I was able to join a theatre group. Though I was nervous at first, I slowly started to connect with the native German-speaking members though my passion for acting and theatre. After a few months, we had all become friends and I was spending most of my free time with them, speaking lots of German.
Here in New York, there are many resources and organizations that can help you make friends and learn English. If you like sports, consider joining the YMCA, where you can take classes, play basketball and squash, run, swim or even join a team. If you enjoy dance, take classes at Broadway Dance Center or Steps on Broadway.
Meetup.com can be a very useful website as well. You can search for almost any activity in the New York City area and find a group that meets regularly to do it. Some examples include film clubs, flag football, photography and book clubs.
Another way to make a friend while learning English, is to find a language exchange partner. This means you have to be willing to teach or speak a little in your native language. Most language exchange partners meet for a few hours a week to practice or teach each other their native languages. This can be a good opportunity to share your culture with someone else while you learn and practice English.
Craigslist.org is a good place to find a language exchange partner. You can look at posts other people have made or make a post of your own. Just be careful and make sure that you meet your new friend in a public place at first until you feel comfortable with him or her.
Making friends and learning English can both seem overwhelming in the beginning, but these ideas can help you to make meaningful friendships and get talking!