Language Exchange Rendezvous

2년 전


This weekend just gone I invited a few friends around for lunch and afternoon tea, a language exchange rendezvous. This is the second year I've done this with my group of friends who are my language exchange partners. Language exchange is something that I've discovered since coming to Taiwan. I think it's the best way to learn a foreign language and make new friends.


For those who don't know, language exchange is where you learn from someone who speaks the language you want to learn. In exchange you teach them your native language. The communication format can be whatever you want, email, phone, Skype, face to face. Personally I prefer to, and only do language exchange face to face as its much easier to communicate, and learn pronounciation more accurately. There are many websites and forums that organises these matching services. I guess its not too dissimilar to Tinder, only there's no romance involved. Or may be there is for some...... In addition, especially in Taiwan there are many Facebook groups for language learning as people are keen to learn English.

When I first came to Taiwan, I had at least two language partner at any one time as I was very keen to improve my Chinese. To avoid complication (I'm old school), I only do language exchange with girls. These girls have not only helped me with my Chinese. I've also learnt a lot of traditional and current local culture from them. I'm glad to say that I have made 6 good friends over the years.


Anyway, back to my language exchange rendevous. Taiwanese food isn't my forte so of course I prepared a westernised lunch - chicken bake. This was simple to make as I needed time to prepare afternoon tea.

Chicken Bake for lunch


Afternoon tea was Hong Kong style pineapple buns. This is the most popular sweet bun in Hong Kong. When I was in UK, I didn't live near China town so had to learn make a lot of my favourite meals and snacks. This was one where I spent quite a long time perfecting and can now proudly claim I make a mean pineapple bun. The bun is a basic bread recipe with a soft cookie like topping. It is also very popular with Taiwanese, so of course I had to treat my good friends to it. Here's the bread proofing in the morning.
Making bread

The great thing about making bread is that its actually not that difficult once you master it (so she says after learning for so many years!). But what I really loved about it is that there quite a few processes, some easier than others and you can get everyone involved.

My friends were helping out with shaping them into little balls and making the topping. It was the first time they've made bread and they really enjoyed themselves, especially when the final bake came out from the oven! Bon appetit!

Making pineaapple buns

Afternoon tea


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This is a great technique: you mix language exchange with cultural exchange (learning to prepare non-Chinese food). I agree with your "old school": same-sex exchanges prevents a lot of unnecessary problems.

So which are your favorite sites for finding language partners?


I normal go on FB as there are a couple of local groups there. I google once and I think there was one call or something like that. I registered my details, and every now and then I get requests from all over Taiwan even though I specifically said I was only looking for F2F with girls in Taichung

Damn, wish I was there! The chicken bake and pineapple buns look so good! 😋 I love language exchange too. Besides the language itself, you learn a lot about the culture and make friends along the way.

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I never knew about language exchange before I came to Taiwan, but then I didnt need to learn a new language then. The best about is learning local culture and lingo etc so its easier to integrate

I like to improve my English too. It's one of the reason that I join steemit. I am curious to know what fruit or vegetable you mix with the chicken. Maybe I would have a try.

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Steemit is a great place to learn English as quite a few people write bilinigual posts from CN (I was a bit lazy with this post) and there are many from other countries who's first language isn't English either so there is less pressure. Not to mention, posting in English will increase your exposure exponantially, as you may have realized already.

For the chicken bake, I put carrots and onion at the bottom of the tray, then marrow at the top as it needed less time. Basically you can throw in anything you like!


Thank you :)

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Those pineapple buns look amazing!! What recipe do you use and how long did it take you to perfect it?? I'd love to learn and make it for the family :)

Maybe the next time you're in the UK, we can get together with @rea and whoever else who'd be interested and do a Chinese cooking/baking session!


My hubby must have endured about a year of my rock buns till he got to eat something decent. And that was only after I decided to enrol myself on a short bread making course run by the council. Then my sister gave me her recipe which involves using tongzhong, which is basically mixing a bit of flour and water to make a paste before chucking it in with the rest of the ingredients. Works like wonder now.

Hopefully I can make a trip back home sometime next year, must catch up then!


Haha the thought of rock buns is hilarious. I have to say bread making is one thing I really feel I need help with. This recipe from your sister, is that something you can share? Would really love to do some Chinese baking at home!!


Of course I can share my recipe my dear! This is my own basic recipe adapted from various sources

Bread Flour 240g
Luke warm water 80ml
Egg 35g
Sugar 35g
Salt 3g
Milk powder 5g
Yeast 4g
Butter 40g
Tongzhong 13g bread flour + 67ml water

The tongzhong is from the following site (its in Chinese, dunno if that's ok 😀) my recipe is part based on her's as well.

Basically the tongzhong should be made of 1 part water to 4 parts flour. And its weight should be around 20% to 25% of the rest of the ingredients. My recipe is a bit off, but so far has worked for me in both UK and Taiwan. I use to cook my tongzhong on the stove to the exact temperature, but now I just throw it in the microwave for around 30+20 seconds (need to stir in between) as I know the consistency I need.

Make the TZ first and let it cool down. Then use a bit of water from that 80ml and add it to the yeast with a sprinkle of sugar to activate the yeast. Mix it all together, cover and wait for about 10 minutes. It should start to bubble, that means the yeast is alive. You can skip this step but I like to get the yeast to start working first. Next bung everything in a bowl, mix, knead, proof for 1.5 to 2 hours depending on the season (takes longer in winter), shape (unless you want mega or mini ones, this recipe yields 8 at around 50g each), second proof for 45 minutes, add the pineapple topping (see below) and then bake for 18 minutes in 170 degrees.

For the pineapple topping, it's made of
10g butter
25g oil
16g egg
45g sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon bicarb soda
80g plain flour or 70g plain flour + 20g custard powder (I prefer the latter)

Mix it all together, but like biscuit dough don't overwork it as you want a bit of crunch. Shape it into a long roll and keep in fridge. About 10 -15 minutes before you bake, take it out and let it soften a little bit and cut into discs. Flatten them, place on top of the buns, use a toothpick to draw criss cross lines and brush egg wash all over and bake!!!

My turning point was when I enrolled on a bread making course run by Surrrey council. Its on a Saturday morning and last for about 5 hours. Highly recommend it.

Good luck and look forward to see your pineapple buns!!!