Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Language exchanges are a great opportunity for adult English learners. They are a great way to improve your conversation skills.

However, because it’s a one on one meeting sometimes there can be confusion about whether the intentions of the participants is to form a romantic connection or just to study English.

Today a listener asked us how to make sure it’s clear that you are looking for a language exchange and not a date or a romantic connection.

If you’re not looking for romance in your language exchange we’ll show you how to make your message clear today.

Here is our listener’s question for today:

Hello. I’m Izumi from Japan.

I’ve been listening your awesome podcast since I found it out. In some episodes, you answered listeners’ question. I’d like to ask you a question, too. I’m using some websites which runs for giving opportunity to chat foreigners for language learners. I often receive some messages from foreigners and they are men. I’m wondering their purpose is to practice languages or just girl-hunting. I’m afraid that this question is fitting in here. I’m sorry, but I just want to ask you it and get your opinion. Thank you.



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Our response

Yes, this is a problem.

Even when Lindsay was living in Japan she saw a lot of American or native-speaking young English teaching guys who would look for a “language exchange” but were actually interested in dating a Japanese woman.

In some cases that was what the woman wanted too so that was fine but not in every case.


This could be a cultural misunderstanding

If a western woman goes to a more conservative country and looks for a language exchange with a man the man might assume she wants a relationship because it might be rare for a single woman to be meeting one on one with a man in that culture.

However, for the western woman it’s not a weird thing to be meeting with a man in a cafe one on one.

This could lead to major problems if it’s the message is not clear that the woman is not looking for romance.


How to make your non-romantic intentions clear

  • Tip #1- if you have a profile on these sites then state what you’re looking for. Be proactive so that you don’t have to be reactive later. Sometimes you have to be blunt by saying:
    • “I’m only interested in a language exchange, not dating.”
    • “Please don’t message me if you are looking for a girlfriend.”
    • “By the way, I am not looking for any kind of romantic connection. I only want to improve my English. If this is your intention as well then please get in touch”


  • Tip #2: If you meet with the person (online or in person) and they make a pass at you then you can say:

    • “I think you might have misunderstood me. I’m not interested in anything romantic with you.”
    • “Sorry but for me this is just a language exchange, nothing more.”


Final tips

  • Don’t be afraid to be honest
  • Don’t let the person make you feel guilty. Just move on. There are tons of people looking for language exchanges especially online.
  • Go with your gut instinct.
  • Safety first! Obviously don’t meet the person in a private place if you are doing an in-person language exchange. In Tokyo Lindsay used to meet her exchange partners at McDonald’s cafe or sometimes a shopping mall, a cafe, or an izakaya but never in a person’s home.


Learn more about language exchanges


What questions do you have about today’s lesson?

Let us know in the comments section below.

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