Before we start this article, I’d just like to say that I’m single, but maybe one day…
The term “Friends With Benefits” is a more modern term used to describe a relationship with the primary purpose of receiving mutual benefits. Normally it’s used to define a couple who’s only together because of one thing, whether it be free car rides, food, or money. Now, just to be clear, I’m not saying to use people, but I am saying to use people. Having explained this frisky concept, what if the benefit of the relationship was mutual language exchange?
Some language learning enthusiast suggests that one of the best ways to learn a language is to have a relationship with a native speaker of your target language. Language learning is a two-way street; it takes two to do the tango. And it makes sense if you think about it, having a relationship with someone who speaks your target language as their native language can grant many benefits. Such benefits are centred in the school of immersion and exposure.
Benefits of Learning A Language Together With A Friend
Well, the first thing that comes to mind when I think about cross-cultural relationships is the exchanging of cultures. This aspect ties into language learning so well because language cannot exist without culture and culture cannot exist without language. The two are inseparable. By being in a cross-cultural relationship, you’ll be able to expand your horizons in that respective culture as well as gain a sense of value and respect for the language.
Practice your speaking
The beautiful thing about language is that it has the potential to bridge people from different backgrounds together. So when you manage to speak to your partner in their native language not only will you be reaching their hearts, but you’ll also be nurturing your own. A relationship involves speaking to your significant other, or “friend” (whatever you want to call them). If you find yourself struggling to speak to native speakers, then having an official partner to practice with can prove to be extremely convenient and time-efficient.
Practice your listening
Listening in language learning is 80% of the battle. After all, how can you respond to anybody if you can’t comprehend what they are saying? Relationships require both parties to listen attentively and with a sincere heart. The best part about this aspect of things is that your partner won’t be annoyed when you ask them to repeat things (since love is patience right?).
Learn slang phrases
There are just some phrases that you usually wouldn’t hear during your typical studies. Being in a relationship with a native speaker can bridge the gap between casual and formal conversations. You’ll instantly notice small things that’ll make your speaking a lot better, things you usually wouldn’t have noticed if you stuck to a textbook or traditional classroom settings.
Toxic Language Learning Relationships
The key concept of “Friends With Benefits” when it comes to language learning is to ensure that your partner isn’t left hanging.
When only one side is benefiting, then it becomes what we call a toxic relationship.
These kinds of relationships are almost always most definitely 100% of the time BAD and should be avoided at all costs. What should happen for example, is a tandem. Let’s say your “friend” is a native Japanese speaker, and you’re an English speaker then the goal should be that you learn some Japanese while your partner learns some English.
Remember earlier when I said that language is a two-way street? If one side of the conversation outweighs the other, then can it be called communication? Did you, know that in the United States alone the divorce rate for couples is 49.5% and this number is even higher for couples with cross-cultural differences. Don’t be a statistic; communication is at the forefront of maintaining a healthy, stable relationship (says the single guy).
“Communication leads to community, that is to understanding, intimacy, and mutual valuing.” – Rollo May
What Happens If It All Goes Wrong?
Friends with benefits, as loose as the term seems can go wrong…horribly wrong. What happens when one side stops providing their benefit? Language learning ought to be seen as a passion, so when things go wrong, it’s important to keep on pushing through the thick of it all. Your friend will not always be there for you or provide you with your benefits. So I just want you all to know that it’s okay to end a relationship, especially superficial ones.
But at the end of the day, your language learning comes first. So don’t take a broken up relationship out on your love of language, it’s not fair. If you managed to become more than just friends using the Friends with Benefits technique and things went astray, it’s not the end of the world! Just pick up the pieces and find yourself another friend… or take the time you need to recover from emotional heartbreak, whichever comes first.
You might ask yourself why do I need to in a relationship to make this work?
Sure you can always get a language learning partner who you see three times a week for one hour a day. But that kind of takes the fun away from things doesn’t it? The whole point of friends with benefits is to make friends who you can regularly interact with. And since being in a relationship means you’re practically tied to that person you’ll save money, increase language exposure, and learn valuable cultural lessons.