I have written on the various ways to learn languages for free. Some viewers have vouched that my methods are a great way to get a free language exchange without having to give up their time practicing in their mother tongue. Others have argued, and my own sister is one of them, that some of my more alternative methods of learning a language whilst dating are not to be used.
So to assist the viewers who disagree with me but still want to learn a language in Madrid, I have created the following blog that goes over the various online language exchange options.
The traditional exchange language Madrid
I have already attempted to improve my own second language growth through the various meetup groups that organise language exchanges that have risen and fallen all over Lavapies, Gran Via, Sol and Plaza de Espana. Personally I do not enjoy going to a crowded bar where the rules of practicing and improving language are not clear. I got tired of the Spanish and English language exchanges where I had to do the same questions repeatedly. I’m sure many will agree that these questions normally follow the same process:
- Where are you from?
- What do you do?
- Why are you here in Madrid?
- How long have you been here?
Spending money on drinks to practice the same vocabulary and grammar structure did not really appeal to me.
Secondly, I noticed that many language exchanges do not monitor the groups that merge together. So you could have a A2 Spanish student talking with a native English speaker and a B2 spanish student of English. The B2 english student, who has been working hard through the various grammar books and expensive private english lessons with native English teachers has to decrease his or her speaking level to that of the A2. The A2 student is also confused by the high vocabulary used by the B2 and native speaker who are discussing more confusing make/do constructions that are beyond the skill level of anybody who has not passed their Cambridge First Certificate.
Meetup Madrid Language Exchange
Thirdly, both myself as native english speaker and some of my Spanish students have had the unfortunate experience of engaging a language exchange partner or partners in one’s own native language and after 20 minutes have asked to change languages only for the partner to run towards another group of native speakers. In my entire time of visiting various language exchanges only one has enforced a rule of 15 minutes of Spanish and then 15 minutes of English.However, there was no work on the organiser’s part to match equal level speakers together. I have pasted the link below for you to have at look at.
So my advice on those wanting to work on improving their second language in the traditional language exchange in a bar or cafeteria where there are going to be large groups is the following:
- Set strict time limits on the languages to be practiced.
- Judge the level of your fellow partner or partners before committing.
- Decide on vocabulary and grammar structures that you want to practice beforehand and discuss this with the language exchange partner or group
- Be prepared to walk away (a phrasal verb worth knowing) and find another language exchange centre in your home city or where ever you are in the world.
Free online language exchanges
Before arriving to Madrid I made use of the free online language exchanges platforms that have become very popular. One of those was iTalki. Now I was on Italki for 3 months and ironically 2 of the 4 Spanish girls that I practiced Spanish with become girlfriends (not at the same time I must mention). So I follow up (a discourse marker that I would recommend to learn) here was my experience of improving a language for free on a online language learning platform.
Firstly, people outright lie about their level of English on any language learning platform. I have yet to discover a online platform that requires users to do a level test where not only there grammar and listening are assessed but most importantly their speaking, which cannot be easily cheated on. One of my lifelong Spanish friends, Victor, has had the same experience with native English speakers who have exaggerated their Spanish B1- level to that of a B2+.
Secondly, there is no progression information sheet for online language exchanges that allow language students to better assess how they have improved their language. In my experience of learning Spanish I have followed a rough course that required me to master certain grammar structures and conjugation of Spanish verbs before I could progress to my next language exchange. Many online language exchanges sites do not provide the means for language students to assess their progress or those of the people that they are practicing with.
Lastly, cancellations. This is the worst part of online language exchanges. So many learning partners have either cancelled at the last minute or have not even turned up (another phrasal verb worth knowing for those who are in the dating world). The worst part is that the websites do not order people in their language exchange pages by attendance record and reliability. I will credit that some do have reviews of people but this is a time consuming requirement on the part of interested language exchange speakers who have to spend 5 minutes reviewing a language student’s profile.
Learning english for free online
As an English teacher I have had many Spanish students who have tried to do the long journey of learning English by YouTube, Netflix (with and without subtitles), songs, Duolingo, English courses and audios by themselves. Now I agree that these methods can assist with the reinforcing what you have learnt as well as improve pronunciation but this is not the way to quickly learn English.
If you recall back to when you were a child, did you parents ever make you so English courses or force you to listen to a YouTube video of a guy trying to explain how to decipher English phrasal verbs (by the way there is no method to do this)? I would strongly guess not. We learnt by trying to talk to our family and peers. We quickly as children that a mistake was made judging by the reaction of the listener (confusion, anger, etc).
I would advise that you watch the video below of Benny Lewis (there are subtitles in Spanish) of his method of learning English. If you hear a word or expression in a Netflix series, write it down (do not search for the meaning in a dictionary) and try to use it in a conversation with a native english speaker in what you think is the right context. Based on his/her reactions you can better know when to use the expression and also its meaning. I know from personal experience of accidentally saying coño instead of conejo to my girlfriend and now know the correct pronunciation and meaning of two words.
Espeaky’s free, online language exchange group
With all of these problems in mind I set out (my last phrasal verb of this post) to create an intercambio that solved many of the above problems.
I have created language exchange groups that are separated according to both speaking and grammar level in our free English level evaluation. People who do not want to join the groups are also free to do the free English level test to better show the world where they are in their language journey.
Our online intercambios of languages are done through Whatsapp, WeChat or Skype and so are accesible to students who are working on their languages around the world. We provide access to the following groups to learn english online for free.
- Language exchange for children
- Language exchanges for teenagers
- Language exchanges for adults
Groups are also divided up into various speaking levels: english A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2.
Users can also able to join groups to prepare for the following exams
- English exam for selectividad 2018
- English exam for guardia civil 2018
- English exam for 1 eso
- English exam for bachillerato
- English exam for PET
- English exam for B1 Cambridge
- English exam for B2 Cambridge
- English exam for C1 Cambridge
- English exam for C2 Cambridge
- English exam for ebau
Please register to access our free English level test.
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Unfortunately, Google Forms does not allow the test to be shown here, so go to this page.