Adios to Friends Abroad
comment Comment Written by on November 16, 2008 – 4:40 pm is no more. The website that enabled users to practise languages with native speakers has become a part of The FriendsAbroad site will be closing soon, but all profiles are being automatically migrated over to Babbel (pictured).

I first wrote about FriendsAbroad for The Linguist magazine back in 2006. The site was established by Simon Murdoch, one of the early internet entrepreneurs, who after selling his online company Booksellers to Amazon for a hefty £5million, went on to run

For nostalgia’s sake, here’s an extract from my piece from The Linguist. I like to think my Spanish has improved somewhat since then. Meanwhile, for other sites that link you with language learners overseas, you can also try or

“”Hi. My name is Vicky. I am English and live in London. Je parle Français. Hablo Espanol tambien, pero solo un poco.’ My introductory post is short and to the point, and yet a couple of days later I start to get a series of messages. Many are in Spanish, which could be a bit of a challenge, but there’s a translation aid on the site if I get stuck. There’s also no hunting around your keyboard for the special characters menu, as accented letters are easily accessible onscreen.

Most of the messages come from men – which makes me wonder if some are using it as a dating service – but as long as you don’t give out any personal information, you’re safe. Members, I am told, tend to police the site themselves and report anyone who arouses suspicions.

The introductions keep coming. “Hello,” says Ange, a 29-year-old engineer. “I’m from Paris. I can help you with french and hope to learn from you english … Are you OK?” A quick ‘hola’ from a 17-year-old Spanish schoolgirl follows.

When I was doing my A-levels, the latter would have been an ideal correspondent. These days, I doubt we’d have much in common. To find someone with your own interests you have to search around instead of letting people come to you – but there is certainly no shortage of people to choose from.”

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