Learning a language is a process that comes with many challenges. One such challenge: If you don’t use it, you lose it! Getting enough practice is key to meeting language learning goals, especially when it comes to speaking. Further, particularly for adults, learning is best absorbed and retained when there is a clear, motivating link between the relevance of the content and learners’ lives.
Fortunately, ESADE brings together people and their partners and families from all over the world, many of whom speak multiple languages. This serves as a perfect opportunity to share knowledge and benefit from each other’s’ strengths. Thus, the ESADE Better Halves Language Exchange/Intercambio de Idiomas was born!
The first Language Exchange started out informally as an open-call to practice conversational English and Spanish. Both languages flowed freely, with plenty of pauses to explain new vocabulary and phrases. The participants ensured that everyone could follow along and contribute at their language level. Since the first Language Exchange in September of 2016, more structure has evolved to refine the learning outcomes and focus on specific conversational targets.
Now, the Language Exchange occurs twice per month at different coffee shops throughout Barcelona. The goal of the Exchange is to gain confidence speaking our target language in social settings. We strive to achieve this goal by practicing Spanish and English in a fun, supportive environment. Each Language Exchange is centred around themes that are relevant to the participants’ lives. There is always time to talk about current events and catch up with each other socially, too.
The diversity within the group allows us to learn so much from each other, including gaining a deeper understanding of some of the regional language and cultural differences in both Spanish-speaking and English-speaking countries. For example, there are many differences in words, phrases, and pronunciation between different countries, and even throughout regions within these countries. Since the group includes people who speak more than just English and Spanish, we benefit from some bonus vocabulary and insights from Portuguese- and Japanese-speakers.
Aside from learning, the Language Exchanges offer additional benefits. As regularly scheduled events, we look forward to our meetings as time to have fun, socialize, and support each other through the challenges of learning a new language and adapting to life in Barcelona. Also, because the sessions take place at different venues each time, we rotate through the many beautiful neighbourhoods of Barcelona, exploring parts of the city we might not otherwise have a reason to go to.
If you are an “ESADE Better Half” looking to participate in the Language Exchange/Intercambio de Idiomas, please feel free to connect with Taylor Cook to find out more.