As mentioned in my post The Science Behind Learning a Second Language, learning from exposure is a key element to mastering a second language. Exposure can be found in-person or online. In fact, thanks to FaceTime, Skype, and WhatsApp, it’s never been easier to practice language with a native speaker, even if you live on the other side of the world!
But where to begin?
You can always take a stab in the dark and exchange your contact info with someone you find on a language exchange site, like Conversation Exchange or The Mixxer, or you can pay for a language tutor from one of the following best online language tutoring sites.
The latter choice may be more advantageous, because most online tutors have had some certification or language teaching training, so they may be more skilled at helping you in leaps and bounds.
italki is recommended by Benny, the Irish polygot of Fluent in 3 months. The site offers tutoring in any language and allows you the freedom to choose your teacher, your schedule, and even offers the option to pay-as-you-go. That means you don’t have to pay for so many lessons up front, without testing the waters first.
You have the option to choose either a professional teacher or a “community tutor,” i.e. someone not classically trained in teaching. And because you know your language hurdles best, you can inform your teacher what you need help on, and they will design a personalized curriculum for you.
This site is geared more towards conversational English. The site also provides a user Workspace to allow learners and teachers the ability to upload files and work together, whether it’s on images, language assignments, or simply notes. Teachers also offer their own rates, so you can choose the best teacher that suits your goals and budget.
3) Live Lingua
This “Mom and Pop” operation is more of a traditional language school. Live Lingua offers free online courses and Skype language lessons in the eleven most widely spoken languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Russian, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. This site is also a great resource for self-learning. You can find the Peace Corps Language Archive here, which contains language-learning materials for more than 100 different languages.
Verbalplanet offers a similar program as italki. Choose the teacher, choose the time, choose the topic, and you can practice any existing language known to man…except maybe Clingon. The site also offers online analytics and teacher feedback, so that learners can see their progress.
Along with helpful language resources, remember that confidence + speaking + making mistakes = learning from exposure. If you practice speaking to a professional native speaker, your language skills are sure to excel much more quickly than simple bookwork.