The most important thing part of learning a language is using it. Communicating with people. Unfortunately, finding ways to use a new language is not always obvious to the one learning it, so today I introduce Badoo.
First, get over the preconceived notions
Yes, it's true, many people use Badoo and sites like it for dating. And you can too, if that's what you're into. But you will also find a lot of people there who just want to make some new friends, pen pals, etc.
But think about what dating really is: It's getting to know people. It's making conversation. In the end, you often find that most people are generally very nice, and easy to get along with, but very few are people in whom you would ever have a romantic interest anyway.
So why not just skip that difficult part, put all that "dating", and "love", and "romance" out of your mind completely? It's so much easier to talk to people when you're not trying to make them fall in love with you!
Of course, if you're the type of shallow, insecure person who needs validation from flirting with someone of the opposite sex, I'm sure you can find that too.
Use it for what it is
Ok, so once you clear your mind of all the complications and expectations, you can start to really use a site like Badoo to improve your learning. Just fill out a profile and say you're looking for friends, chat partners, pen pals, etc.
Then, start making conversations! You can find people in your city, or widen your search, by distance, eventually including your whole country. But you can also display people in other countries, which is sure to be more useful. And as a bonus, you can show only people who are currently online.
If you're still new with a langauge, you may find that you need to keep Google Translate open in another window. This is particularly true if you've been learning everything from books, rather than from talking to people.
One thing that's particularly nice about Badoo is that it can go at two speeds: slow, offline conversation that give you a chance to look things up as you need, and faster, real-time conversations when you're both online, for those whose command of the language is pretty good.
Having conversations with real people is invaluable. It's been said 1000 times, because it's true: what you learn in books and from lessons is not the way the language is actually used.
And the best part is, it's worldwide
I've only been playing with Badoo for about a week, but I've already used it to chat with people in Mexico, Russia, Italy, Venezuela, Argentina, Kazakhstan, Ukraine... as well as several local foreigners right here in Chicago.
I'm really only capable of real-time chat in English, Spanish, and Russian... though I can kinda keep up for a few minutes in Italian. But I've already had no problem finding people to chat with in those languages, and I'm sure there are plenty of other people in whichever language you speak.
You'll definitely learn a lot. Most likely, you'll have some casual chat friends who will come and go, and by going throught the act of meeting new people you'll become very comfortable with the language. But occasionally, you might also make a really good friend, someone you can talk to regularly, and maybe even visit one day.