Living in Utah, I find it quite difficult to find places to practice speaking Chinese, especially Cantonese. Apart from accosting people in stores and other public places when I happen to hear them speaking Chinese and bugging servers in Chinese restaurants, the only other Chinese I get is to try and hone my (admittedly very poor) Mandarin with a couple of my coworkers. Where do you folks go to get practice speaking Chinese? Is there somewhere I can find others in my area with whom to practice?
Search online to try and find sites that provide language exchange. These are a good opportunity to have regular lessons and give at the same time as receiving.
Try and find or organise meet-ups in your area. I know a friend who is learning at the moment and he catches up every Saturday morning with about 3 or 4 others. This was organised by putting up a couple of posters at a local colleges that teaches different languages to adults.
Young Chinese people like to do a kind of "chat roulette" on Skype and QQ. I don't know specific details, but if you are brave!
If you have a China town district sit on a bench and wait. This may sound impractical, but it all depends on your area. Our local shopping district has a high Chinese population and a limited number of public chairs/tables. I can often find someone to chat to while my wife goes to buy meat.
If you live close to a university you will find they have societies and other social groups which have a high number of overseas students such as "Chinese student friendship association" or something similar. Try and get connected with students via your local campus. There are plenty of students looking to share and make friends.
Attend Chinese community social activities. Tree planting, New Years celebrations whatever.
The only place that comes to my mind is looking for an international penpal, getting to know each other and using a chatting service that allows you two to call using a webcam.
That way you can also "choose" a Cantonese speaker, and considering those sites, also with similar interests that you have.
One strategy I use is shopping whenever I can at shops with Chinese speaking proprietors (Fast-food, groceries, restaurants, anything). I use a bit of Chinese, this generally interests them, and you will find that you have a small conversation with this person every time you go there. (Incidentally this is also a great way to get discounts :)
Here are a few suggestions:
- Locally: Try meetups for group exchanges and whatnot - http://chinese.meetup.com/
- Online: italki have teachers and tutors you can practice with - http://www.italki.com/teachers/tutoring/chinese. Or if you are up for a bit less structure, there is Skype Language rooms [http://education.skype.com]
- Mobile: Wechat [微信] This is a little bit more a stretch for speaking, but great for connecting with Chinese. It's like whatsapp, but where you can find people in your area to connect with [look around feature searches for Chinese in the area]. Unlike whatsapp, the default communication method is Spoken. So you record Walkie-talkie like messages. If you come to Shanghai, you'll see people holding the phones to their mouths.
All are quality
Just recently found this language learning social network http://polyglothub.com . You can find there those who will be willing to practice with you Chinese (their native language) in exhange of your own. Success!
I know one Chinese wechat corner can practice speaking Chinese and learn daily Chinese learning tips from every Monday to every Friday freely. There are some professional Chinese teachers in that group and answer Chinese learners' problems. You can try to add that group and practice Chinese Mandarin every day. Good luck!
I can advice you to try Polyglothub.com - a brand new langauge learning social network concerning on communication as main strategy. There you'll be able to videochat with your language partners right on the site with no need to use Skype or any other third party videochating software. Wish you success in your langauge learning process!