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Language Exchange Program FAQ

Q: How does the program work?

LEP is a free program that connects international and domestic students through language exchange. The success of the program depends entirely on participants and each person’s enthusiasm to teach and learn a language. With your participation, we seek to build a global community based on the exchange of language skills, culture, and ideas.

The program matches participants who have similar language interests in two formats: language groups and pairs/trios. Participants can opt to join language groups, small discussion groups facilitated by fellow students who are proficient in the language you want to practice. These meet once per week, and provide a great opportunity to learn from peers and meet potential partners.

Secondly, upon receiving your intake form, we will work to pair you with 1-2 partners who share your language interests. You and your partner(s) decide when and where to meet, and how often you want to practice.

Lastly, in addition to group and pair/trio meetings, we hold a number of community socials each semester. Look out for announcements via email and Facebook!

Q: How do I sign up?

All new and returning participants must attend an orientation, and submit an intake form. Afterwards, we will use the information from your form to match you with your language group and partner(s). You'll find our orientation schedule here.

Q: I participated in LEP last semester. Do I have to sign up again?

Welcome back! Returnees do not need to attend info sessions—however, you must attend an orientation to continue in LEP this semester. We’ve made a few changes to the program and want to keep you up-to-date.

Q: Will I be matched with a native speaker?

As LEP is volunteer-based, we can’t guarantee that there are enough native speakers of every language to meet the demands of those who want to practice. You may instead be paired with a language learner of the same level. However, for most languages, you will have the opportunity to work with a proficient speaker through the language group format.

Q: Can you guarantee I’ll get a partner for my first choice language? Can I be matched with someone of a particular gender/student standing/age?

We do our best to accommodate everyone’s preferences—however, we can’t guarantee that there is someone in the program who is the perfect match. Some semesters, there are no speakers of a certain language participating, in which case we will do our best to match you with your second choice language.

Q: What are some of the most popular languages for LEP?

Our most popular languages are English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, and Spanish, but students are practicing a variety of languages from around the globe. Over the past year, we've had speakers of over 26 different languages!

Q: I attended the orientation and submitted my intake form. However, I have not gotten information about my partner. What should I do now?

We are a small team working to match hundreds of students. We will send out information as soon as a suitable match has been found to meet your language interests. Thank you for your patience!

Q: I have already received my partner information, but want to practice multiple languages. Can I get more partners?

Because of the amount of requests we receive, we are only able to assign each participant once. Please consider attending different language groups to practice other languages. In addition, there may be opportunities to meet other partners and change languages at our socials throughout the semester.

Q: What if my partner doesn’t return my phone calls or is too busy to meet me?

Please allow at least 48 hours for your partner to respond. As all participants are busy Berkeley students, pairs/trios are not always able to make their schedules work. If your partner drops the program, please let us know and we will work to reassign you.

Q: How often should I be meeting with my partner(s)?

Ideally, participants should meet for a minimum of one hour per week.

Q: What sort of things do partners usually talk about?

Partners are free to have an open conversation about any topic they choose! Common topics include colloquialismsfood, hobbies, politics, pop culture, religion, social customs, and student life.