Getting More Out Of Language Exchanges

The start of a new year lends itself to doing a bit of strategy revision on up-and-running projects. In this vein, I’ve already told you in a recent post that I’d committed to reading more in order to crank up my Spanish vocabulary.

Besides tackling the reading issue, what’s also been on my mind is that I could be working my intercambios (language exchange sessions) a lot harder than I currently am.

Like most people, I’m a bit lazy. I turn up for my intercambios, we have a chat over coffee or a glass of wine. I might even scribble some notes on loose bits of paper. Usually, both parties end up learning something, and we go away happy, mission accomplished. Well, sort of.

It would a big difference, I’m convinced, if I actually prepared for these sessions, for example by keeping a notebook throughout the week, jotting down specific questions and queries which come up while I’m working on my Spanish by myself, i.e. during reading, studying grammar, working through podcast material or listening to the radio.

It would also help if I made a specific point of practicing new vocabulary and expressions that I’ve come across during self-study by foisting it onto a native speaker.

I do actually keep a notebook for recording new words and expressions, and I occasionally re-read them, e.g. while waiting for the bus, but so far, I have not been making a conscious effort to practice the new material with a live victim, and I never retain what I’ve heard or read just the once. This strikes me as a major missed learning opportunity.

I think my laziness is down to having a virtually unlimited supply of native speakers at my disposal. It’s one of the paradoxes of human nature that we often don’t fully appreciate what we’ve got when there’s an abundance of it.

There’s a myriad of uncertainties about grammar and vocabulary usage swirling around in my head, but I fail to resolve them efficiently. I just take it for granted that these questions will eventually resolve themselves in time,  by virtue of the continued exposure I get just by living in Spain. And they will, but I could make progress so much faster if I made a smidgen more of an effort in honing my approach.

So, the plan is this: I’ll be keeping a notebook dedicated to language queries, taking care to write them down as and when they occur, ready to be inflicted upon the next intercambio. Watch this space…

5 thoughts on “Getting More Out Of Language Exchanges

    1. ladyofthecakes Post author

      It’s so easy to become complacent…
      The other problem I’m having is that many of my friends here speak quite good English, and it’s so easy to slip into that, after starting off in Spanish and struggling to communicate a finer point.
      More discipline needed! Sigh….



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