Having studied Spanish grammar in Guatemala and Ecuador until I was blue in the face, my Spanish language learning leveled out for a while simply because I couldn’t face opening up another grammar book.
Then I arrived in Buenos Aires, Argentina and decided to try out the famous Intercambio concept. Put simply, an Intercambio is a language exchange between two people. You meet up, spend half the time talking in your native language and half the time in theirs. This usually takes the form of meeting for a coffee and chatting for an hour in English and an hour in Spanish, although some Intercambios I have done have lasted 5 hours or more…!
I have been using a website called Conversation Exchange to organise Intercambios in Buenos Aires, Madrid & Barcelona. You need to register and add a brief profile (no photos allowed incidentally), then you can either contact people or wait until people contact you.
Intercambios also have a bit of a reputation as a means of meeting potential partners. Out of 15 people that contacted me in Buenos Aires from the Conversation Exchange website 14 were women between the ages of 28 and 33. My Colombian friend suggested to me that they were all after European visas. Or maybe it’s simply the fact that more women are learning English?
Whatever the underlying motivations, intercambios are a great way to practice your Spanish, get out and meet local people, and make new friends.