Are you interested in Conversation Exchange or ‘Intercambio’? Want to learn more about this fun and effective way of learning a new language? Join a conversation exchange and you can improve your skills for free.
Blog post by our partner Capacity Ireland
Language exchanges are a fantastic method to meet other learners and native speakers. A language exchange can be organised in a variety of ways in today’s modern world, both online and physically.
A language exchange is an informal, friendly way to study, practice, and share a new language. They can be large gatherings with hundreds of people or small gatherings with only two people. They can take place in any location, from an online meeting to a café.So what can you do to make the most of your intercambio? Here are our top tips to get you started.
There are always plenty of options to join intercambio’s in lively cities like Seville, Lisbon or Marseille. There are numerous organised gatherings with engaging people, games, conversation topics, learning, and entertainment! Look for a language exchange that piques your interest – just make sure there are a lot of individuals who sign up on a regular basis. These sorts real life language exchanges where groups of people connect in-person up can be found through sites like Facebook, Meetup or Couchsurfing.
Finding a Language Buddy
Assume you’re an English speaker who wants to learn Spanish. You go to a language exchange website and search for a native Spanish speaker who is interested in learning English. (Perhaps he’s taking a trip to the UK soon and wanted to brush up on his English.) So it’s a match in either case. You desire what he has, and he wants what you have as well. Assuming that you meet for an hour, you should split your time 50/50 — half an hour in English and half an hour in Spanish.
Looking for an online platform may not be easy. Here are our reviews of ten of the best language exchange apps and websites. They’re in no particular order — the top choice depends on what you want from the experience.
- HelloTalk: Best for innovative tools
- Tandem: Best for a quick start
- Bilingua: Best for personalized matching
- MyLanguageExchange: Best for long-term connections
- The Mixxer: Best for speaking via Skype
- Speaky: Best for instant language exchanges
- Meetup: Best for in-person language exchanges
- Reddit: Best for language exchange communities
- Facebook: Best for private groups
- Preply: Best to practice with language experts
Getting Ready for the Conversation
Consider what you want to get out of the exchange before you meet for the first time. Do you wish to concentrate on the present tense, for example? Is it possible to use the past tense? Is it possible to talk about the environment? Tell your companion whether you’d want to practice a specific topic or grammar rule. If possible, inform them ahead of time so that they can make any necessary preparations.
Try not to over-rehearse before the session. The purpose of language exchange is to practice the art of conversation, which is responding instinctively to the thoughts and opinions of another person. You won’t improve your conversation abilities by reciting a learned speech.
Plan topics to speak about during your practice time
It’s a good idea to prepare ahead of time to get the most out of your exchange. It is not necessary to plan what you want to talk about in order for the discussion to seem strange and unusual. It’s a linguistic exchange, after all! It’s already strange and unusual! If you’re just learning a new language, have a detailed plan for your talk. Look up some questions you’d like to be asked and prepare your responses ahead of time.
Don’t be Embarrassed about Making Mistakes
Make it clear how much you want your conversation partner to correct you. It’s usually best to strike a balance: don’t correct your partner down to the last detail, which can be demoralizing, but don’t overlook severe mistakes either (one way is to repeat what they have said using the correct way).
Choose a Meeting Location with Consideration.
A fun and popular venue to meet with a language exchange partner is a favorite pub, restaurant, or cafe. However, if your meeting location is too loud to converse comfortably, crowded with your friends, or otherwise distracting, it is most likely limiting what you get out of each meeting. Similarly, if you discover that your quiet meeting spot is stiffening your interaction with your exchange buddy, a livelier setting might loosen you both up and generate some dialogue.
Make a List
Although an intercambio is not the same as a language lesson, you should still take notes! Each class will teach you a lot of new vocabulary, pronunciation techniques, and expressions, so make sure to take notes and go over them later at home. Try to leave every language exchange with three takeaways. That could include new words, common expressions, a grammar rule that’s often broken in speech or a pronunciation tip.
Keep Speaking the Language
You’ll have plenty of opportunity to speak another language during your exchange abroad, and you might even learn to speak like the locals! Nothing is more motivating than putting your linguistic skills to good use; strive to keep that motivation going when you get home and continue to use the language. Whether you’re reading magazines, comic books, or books, listening to podcasts, or conversing with your host family on Skype, the more you use the language, the more you’ll benefit from your exchange long after you’ve returned home!