January 25, 2011

Man the internet has so many websites.  Sometimes they do these features where they revisit a certain point over the course of a few weeks.

Want to do one about different ways we’ve been trying to learn Spanish.  Today we look at Intercambios.

There is a great hunger to learn English here in Madrid.  There are probably close to 1000 or so academies, loads of private classes, in-company contracts, and just the spirit of wanting it, badly.  Some folks either can’t afford class or don’t have a timetable to accommodate one.  They set up language exchanges.  I’ve seen ads for Swahili-Catalan swaps, but mostly they’re English-Spanish.

The idea is to practice Spanish and English equal parts.  As I’m not quite in the mode to have uninterrupted, non-stuttering conversations in Spanish, we’re at about 40-60, or more precisely 37.5/62.5.

intercambio gone wild

Many times they have a romantic subtext, but that’s not what the seanandbacrossthesea brand is all about.  We both found someone that is a) middle-aged and b) the same sex.  It’s worked out terrifically.  B’s exchange partner, in addition to teaching her how to order tortilla properly at a restaurant, recently gave her a haircut.  Girl looked fresh when she came back that day; crowd went wild.

My guy is cool, a lawyer, disciplined and proud of his country.  We take different approaches to correcting each other.  He once said that a restaurant in Madrid was one of the great ‘gastronomic’ experiences he’s ever had.  As he was in the flow of conversation, I hesitated to suggest an alternative word.

Later that night, B made a killer potato/zucchini/mushroom combo.  I held back my usual ‘best meal I ever had’ in favor of ‘man that really the gastronomic spot.’  Boom- crowd went wild again.

On the other hand, as my errors  can be far more egregious, he is quick to correct me.  Let’s just say my knowledge and use of the different tenses is not, well, grounded. Prepositions often fall by the wayside.  I say the same things over and over and over (the dreaded ‘y tu?’).  He’ll teach me something- you should use ‘ver’ and not ‘mirar’ in this context– and I’ll forget it sometimes seconds later.  It’s fun as ever though, because sometimes you do get into a flow, even a minor one.  And you’re like, wow, I just said a full sentence that didn’t contain ‘me gusta.’

Strong recommendation for the experience, especially if you’re brave and unafraid to make mistakes.  Even if you’re neither- don’t worry, fellow coward in the night.

good meeting place for intercambios


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