You want to improve your language level and are looking for an Intercambio partner? Excellent! Here are a few tips that will help you to make the most out of this experience.
- Find someone with the same level. For example, if you are an intermediate student at B1 level of English, you want to find someone who wants to improve their Spanish (or Catalan) and who also has a B1 level. This challenges both of you equally. Otherwise, you will probably speak more in the language of the partner with the higher level – simply because it’s easier – and the other person loses out.
- Agree together if you want to be corrected and how. Do you want to focus on improving your fluency or do you want to become more accurate? Correcting errors is really important in order to become more accurate, so ask your partner to interrupt and correct you if this is what you want to focus on. On the other hand, you might just want to practice speaking more freely and expressing yourself in complete sentences without being interrupted. That is fine too, just discuss it openly with your Intercambio partner before you start.
- Have a notebook ready to record new words and expressions your partner uses and teaches you while you are chatting. You can also use it to correct errors. Go over these notes after the meeting so you really learn something.
- Spend an equal amount of time speaking both languages when you meet. For example, 30 minutes in English first, then change and speak 30 minutes in Spanish. Remember, both of you want to learn, so divide the time fairly.
- Choose different topics to talk about. If you both like football, great! But don’t just talk about that because you will only use the same range of vocabulary. Also talk about current topics in the news, hobbies you have, places you have visited or would like to go, food you enjoy etc. This ensures you cover a wide range of vocabulary in context.
- If you find some words or phrases difficult to pronounce, ask your Intercambio partner if you can record him/ her on your mobile phone. This way you can listen to these words again after your meeting has ended and practice at home. His is a great way to help you improve your pronunciation.
- Ask your partner about traditions and customs of their home country and region. Language is closely linked to a countries’ identity and you are more likely to learn specific expressions and idioms if you talk about these topics. For example, when leaving a bus in the UK it is quite normal to thank the bus driver with a quick ‘Ta!’ or ‘Cheers!’ which are two other words for saying ‘Thanks!’. Here are a few Catalan customs I have come to love.
- Enjoy the experience and be open to learn not only a new language but also about another person and their cultural background. 🙂
- And last but not least, where to find an Intercambio partner? The good news is there are many places! If you live in Barcelona, you are in the perfect spot to make friends with people from other countries because it’s such a cosmopolitan city and a lot of English-speaking people have moved here to enjoy the Spanish way of life. Joining a group on Meet Up or putting up an announcement on Lingo Bongo are just two of many ways how you can get connected and meet a language exchange partner. But of course you can also meet people in a bar, on the beach, at the gym, while waiting for the bus etc. Just be brave, smile and strike up a conversation!