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$36M. Salamanca. What Language Is This?
I’m Talking LingoMatch



The developers of language learning programs will hate me for writing this, but there’s just no way around the truth – when it comes to learning or practicing a foreign language, there’s no substitute for face-to-face conversation. LingoMatch understands this, and wants to give everyone a chance to habla French, English, Spanish, Russian, what have you with the people around them. is a language exchange community. People may post ads looking for native speakers of various languages to speak with, or search ads for people interested in swapping language skills. That’s the deal. LingoMatch champions simplicity and hopes to connect language partners quickly.




Using Facebook to login (to assure others that you are the person you say you are), find locals nearby who can help you develop your chops in whatever language you’re learning. You don’t need another profile or social network, only a brief message stating your language needs. There’s no fancy advertising or attempts to lure you into language programs – just people looking to talk in other languages.


While there are a number of great language learning programs out there, improving daily, most include an attempt to connect students to native speakers. But no matter how natural sounding online coursework becomes, no matter how many online conversations you have with real people, nothing matches actual, live conversations for learning how to speak a foreign language.




Not to mention, LingoMatch is a very cost effective way to improve language skills. Not everyone has the budget or time for structured study, but almost everyone has some interest or need to acquire a second language. LingoMatch provides learners the opportunity to casually test the waters or to hold onto skills long after a study program has ended.


LingoMatch is based in the UK and has established a swap in London as well as in major cities in Argentina, Australia, Canada, France, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, South Africa, Spain, and the United States among others. As word of mouth helps the platform grow, the easier it will be for language learners to find people with the matching skills sets in their neighborhood. As Founder Andrew Playford says, “It’s quite surprising how often that native speaker you really need lives just around the corner.”




Playford was born in Zimbabwe and educated in South Africa. He’s lived and worked in London, New York, and other US cities. After a successful stint with a NY digital marketing firm, he co-founded SmartRay Networks ( with David Kidder. When SmartRay sold for $36 million, Playford took time off to learn Spanish in Salamanca, Spain. He couldn’t quite turn the entrepreneur off. Realizing that students were hungry to speak to native speakers and that the old-school notice boards worked inefficiently, he came up with the concept of LingoMatch.


When students attend language schools they have a limited time to interact with local speakers. Then when they return home, they need someone to talk to in order to prevent hard-earned knowledge from wasting away. LingoMatch fills the gap nicely.


For now, the startup isn’t concerned with elaborate product development or venture capital, but simply giving people a chance to sit down and have conversations. Students of language schools that use the service will no doubt give their organizations social media leverage through word of mouth marketing.




Take a look. Meet and speak. Swap those language skills.


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Author : Keith Liles

Keith Liles is a freelance writer who loves travel, music, wine, hiking, poetry, and just about everything. He practices saying "yes" to life vigorously, rehearsing for the phone call when he's asked to tour with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Follow Keith on Twitter @KPLiles.

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