The need to learn foreign languages in a cheap, fun and interactive way has created much popularity for language exchange events, or as they are called in Spanish, intercambio. These events involve informal learning in groups, and in the case of Barcelona, the most popular languages are naturally English and Spanish. Therefore, the offer of events with this language pair is wide, but you can find lots of groups for other less common pairs as well. If you are tired of boring books and formal classes, why not try a fun way of learning Spanish?
Intercambio events are organised by a host and are usually held in bars or cafeterias. The host decides the structure of learning, but this usually involves talking to each other in smaller groups and one to one, constantly changing your partners. The cost for a participant is minimal (a few euros), so giving it a try is easy.
The best thing about intercambios is the possibility to speak with natives and improve your conversational abilities, the added benefit being, of course, meeting new people every single time. If you want to improve your grammar, using books or going to traditional classes may still be the right way to go – the focus of these meetings is on the fluency of conversation and having a good time rather than the accuracy of your words.
So where can these events be found? To locate groups near you, try Meetup, an online event service where you will find a search result of all possible language exchange organisers in Barcelona. Many events are arranged weekly, so you are sure to find something even on a short notice. But remember to sign up on meetup.com before the event!
The popularity of these meetings is of course partly due to low costs and expats learning Spanish, but there is a huge need for English in Spain. In addition to intercambio groups, one to one meetings and English teachers are very sought after in Barcelona, so it is common to see people teaching in cafeterias. It you are a native speaker of English, you will not have problems finding a partner to improve your broken Spanish.
If you take the chance and give intercambio a try, you do not need to prepare yourself in any way. An open mind is needed though, since you will be talking to all participants at the event. Teaching skills are not needed – the only thing you need to do is speak and listen!