A language exchange (or Intercambio in Spanish) is an excellent way to practise English outside of the classroom.

The aim of a language exchange is to learn, practise and share a new language in an informal, friendly way. They can be big events with dozens of people or private meetings between two people. And they can take place anywhere – from the city park to a café.

What’s more, language exchanges are a great compliment to your own English classes as speaking in your second language in a social situation is a great way to develop confidence and make new friends at the same time.

So what can you do to make the most of your intercambio? Here are eight top tips from the Oxford House team.


1. Go to an organised language exchange night

In a bustling city like Barcelona, there are always lots of opportunities to join intercambios. There are plenty of regular, organised events with interesting people, games, conversation topics, learning and fun!

Search on Meetup for a language exchange that suits you – just make sure there are lots of people signing up on a regular basis.

Or check out Oxford House’s very own intercambio night – Happy Friday which happens every month. We hope to see you there!


2. Talk with someone you share things in common with

The best intercambios are full of conversation, laughter and have a good mix of both languages. The ideal language exchange partner should therefore not only be fluent in the language you want to learn (and, of course, want to learn a language you that can speak too), but they should also share some interests and things in common with you.

That’s why meeting lots of people at an intercambio can help you find the perfect partner. When you find someone you get on well with, arrange to meet them again for your own private intercambio. That way your exchange will get off to a flying start and you’ll probably make a great new friend as well!


3. Don’t worry about language levels

It’s important to remember that both people in a language exchange want to learn their partner’s native language. So it’s absolutely fine if your partner’s Spanish is better than your English, or vice versa. You should both take things at your own pace and help each other as much as possible.


4. Take notes

An intercambio is quite different to a language class, but you should still take notes! You’re going to pick up a lot of new vocabulary, pronunciation tips and expressions in each session, so make sure to take notes and review them later on when you’re at home.


5. Have a structure

The best intercambios are balanced and let both partners speak an equal amount of the language they want to learn. To avoid only speaking in Spanish or English, set a time limit. For example, you could spend the first 30 minutes speaking Spanish and the last 30 minutes speaking in English. That way it stays fair and you’ll both come away with a great feeling of achievement.

8 Top Tips To Get The Most Out Of Your Language Exchange | Oxford House Barcelona

6. Bring a game with you

Games are a great way to keep things interesting. Board games and card games come with a mountain of new vocabulary – and they can be fun too. The best thing is, as games are quite repetitive, you’ll learn the language faster and won’t even realise how fast you are progressing. Not keen on games? Bring an interesting article with you and discuss it.


7. Find an interesting place to go

You don’t always have to do your intercambio in the same place. You can go on excursions or walks as these very often stimulate interesting conversations. A quick tour around the city will open up the chance to talk about people, places, events, experiences, memories…it’s a language goldmine!


8. Set each other challenges and be accountable

The very best intercambios don’t end with saying goodbye – they should also involve homework! Set each other fun language challenges for each other – watch a film in English, talk to an English tourist on the street, walk into a shop and pretend you can only speak English… you’re only limited by your imaginations.

Also encourage each other to learn and use the language from your session before your next meeting.

Finally, make sure that both you and your partner hold each other accountable. It’s important that follow through on your plans to practise the language you are learning, that you outline what you are going to do – and that you do it!

Glossary for Language Learners


Find the following words in the article and then write down any new ones you didn’t know.

Dozens (n): a dozen = 12 of something.

Bustling (adj): very busy.

Get off to a flying start (exp): to begin very well.

Pick up (pv): to learn.

Goldmine (n): something full of opportunities (or gold!).

Pretend (v): to act or behave like something is true.

Hold (each other) accountable (exp): to make sure someone takes responsibility for their actions.


n = noun

exp = expression

adj = adjective

pv = phrasal verb

v = verb

Study English at Oxford House Barcelona

Interested in taking an English course at Oxford House Barcelona? Check all the different English classes we can offer you, or contact us for more information.

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