le charme discret de la messagerie instantanée
With advent of Skype and video conferencing platforms, text chat or messaging might be regarded a little outmoded as a means of linguistic practice. However, the limitations of the format give it certain advantages. I sometimes find the intimacy of video conferencing, with the constant and inescapable close-up of the each other’s faces, a little uncomfortable. Obviously, you have to be brave to make progress in a foreign language, but when you are struggling with the uncertainty and self-consciousness of communicating in another language, webchat can provide a more hospitable environment in which to build up your linguistic confidence.
I recall chatting online in Spanish to somebody in Mexico at 2.30 in the morning. When they sent me a message, I would scrabble about frantically flicking through the pages of my dictionary; either to decrypt what they had messaged or hastily formulate an intelligible answer. I was at an embryonic stage of my engagement with the Spanish language and it was an extremely demanding exercise. However, it was strangely addictive. The challenge of typing a combination of words that would produce a response of comprehension was exhilarating. Of course, I frequently received a ??? in response.
Faire de nécessité vertu
The webchat format accords you that extra time that is not afforded to you when you are engaged in face-to-face conversation. Nevertheless, at the same time you are subject to the positive pressure of needing to click the reply button with something intelligible before your correspondent thinks you have disappeared. Whilst an exchange via messaging will not necessarily generate the most elegant prose, the inescapable obligation to respond removes some of the inhibitions around committing your warts and all French to text.
Où se trouvent t’ils ?
There are numerous platforms, through which you can pursue text chat with French speakers, such as:
This page from an English teaching blog lists a number of the most prominent sites: