Last week a student of mine asked me if communication with people that speak English at the same level with his or lower is harmful to his growing (of course for his English Speaking Skills).
I understand his concern, after all, we’ve all experienced those moments in which we “borrowed” wrong expressions from people in our environment and later we had to work on us even harder to exclude them from our vocabulary.
Analyzing all pros and cons, I think that there is nothing dangerous in the communication with language partners that have the same language level as yours or even lower, on the contrary, following next pieces of advice will help you to transform any conversation into a learning process (of course, only if want to).
Talking with a partner that has the same language level is one of the best practices you can get. Even if you do not manage to grow your vocabulary during a discussion you have the opportunity to get used to the use of the existing vocabulary but also you help your brain to become faster and better at generating sentences.
Plus, taking into consideration all the new technologies that are available, I confidently presume that you have access all most all the time to the internet, this means that you carry with you a big library that is always accessible. Use it! Are you having questions regarding a term? Open the dictionary. Are you having questions regarding a tense you need to use? Open a grammar page and find the answer. And do not think you are losing time, you are not, you will learn all along the way your searching.
What if your discussion partner has a lower language level than yours? You can transform this it into a winning situation as well.
Follow your partner speech and help him with corrections, I hear how you reply to me that you cannot do it as you are not a teacher. Wrong! If your partner’s level is lower than yours, you know more, share that knowledge. First of all, you will be more focused on all the rules you already know so you would be able to make corrections and this exercise will help you to become more natural in using all you’ve acquired until this particular moment.
I am not trying to convince you to quit on searching learning partners that possess a higher language level than yours, just don’t say “no” to all others opportunities of practising your conversational skills. It is only in your competence to choose your language partners, and it is good to know that with a little of effort, you can transform any conversation in a learning opportunity. Remember, communication is a learning tool accessible to all of us, why not take all it can offer?