Nowadays, there are a variety of different ways to learn Spanish: Skype classes, one-to-one tuition, even learning while you travel… To say nothing of the huge variety of new learning techniques used by teachers to suit each individual student. Studying grammar and learning new vocabulary is all well and good, but how do you put your new knowledge into practice? Interaction with native Spanish speakers! And the quickest, easiest and cheapest way to do that is at an intercambio (language exchange)!
Madrid: the intercambio capitalSe habla Español en Madrid is one of the best language exchage groups and they offer a huge variety of activities, one of them is meeting (every Thursday) new and interesting people that are also learning Spanish at 'El Estudio' bar, located in the cool neighborhood of La Latina. Servando, the group manager, will be waiting for you with open arms!
Other buzzing intercambios that you can find around Madrid are:
• Café Galdós, a centrally located bar where the welcoming intercambio group Madrid Babel meet. AIL Madrid’s absolute favourite! (Wednesdays from 8.30pm and Sundays from 7.00pm)
• The James Joyce Irish Pub, perfect for laid-back types who are fond of cold beer and comfort (Mondays at 8.30pm).
• BeerStation, decorated like an old train station and boasting a dizzying array of beers (Thursdays at 10pm)
• J&J Books and Coffee, where you can enjoy English quiz nights (Fridays), and intercambios on Wednesdays, Thursdays and now Saturdays too (from 8pm)
• Downtown Madrid, perfect for people looking to hear lots of different languages (not just Spanish and English) and enjoy some old-school music from the 80s and 90s (Thursdays 6pm to 11.30pm)
Benefits of Intercambios
Another benefit of intercambios is that you really see your progress! Through speaking Spanish with natives, for every gap in your knowledge that you encounter, five more will be filled without even opening a textbook! In intercambios, you will also encounter idioms and slang “que son la leche” that you would never learn at school or from other “guiris”! If you’re studying a language in that culture, you have a golden opportunity to consolidate your learning: Still stuck on when to use the subjunctive? Go to the intercambio armed with a collection of Spanish phrases where you aren’t sure if the subjective applies or not, and whip them out! Lose the shyness; they wouldn’t be there if they didn’t want to help!
Boost your Spanish and share your culture
Also by going out with locals, you can get off the beaten track insider tips on the best spots in the city.
In this day and age, the opportunities to speak Spanish with natives are limitless! With the internet, you can find a Skype partner to chat without leaving your house, an email pen-pal to write to, chat-rooms to talk in real time with natives, not to mention endless Facebook groups where people can share their language from around the globe. But perhaps the most enjoyable way to gain the benefits of an intercambio is in person!
So what are you waiting for? See you there!