How can I practice my Spanish without paying for an additional course?
This is a question I get asked a lot by my Spanish students, from beginners through to advanced speakers. Exchange programmes can be expensive and are only usually for a few weeks of the year and if you’ve already signed up for a course the last thing you want is to be paying for an additional conversation course. What you need when you’re learning a second language is plenty of practice and consistency.
So, in this blog post I provide some methods that will get you practicing your Spanish every day and won’t cost a penny (except for maybe the odd coffee).
So, maybe you’ve signed up for a Spanish course and are looking for opportunities to practice speaking during the weeks that classes aren’t on. Or maybe you’ve sat some exams lately and are worried that if you don’t practice you will loose what you have learnt so far. Whatever your reason it is important to get as much practice in as possible.
Below are a few ideas. I would obviously recommend that these ideas be used alongside a formal course to reinforce what you learn in class.
1) Spanish/Latin American themed restaurants & bars
Pop into your local “La Tasca” or “Chiquitos” or any other Spanish or Latin American themed bar or café (CAU and El Gaucho are personal favourites) order yourself a drink and chat to the Spanish-speaking staff (you will need to do your homework and check that they do actually hire Spanish-speaking staff previously).
2) Check your local library or village hall
People who have an interest in languages sometimes organise informal get togethers to practice speaking, so although there may not be any native speakers it’s still a good way to get some practice in. They will usually be advertised in the library or village hall noice board but also maybe the local school or leisure centre.
3) Pen Pal
Contact a language school in Spain or Central or South America asking if any of the English students would like a pen pal. You will find that students learning English are just as keen to practice speaking as those of us learning Spanish.
Making sure you speak to the person in charge of estudiantes or programas de intercambio will help ensure you are assigned an appropriate pen pal.
Once you’ve chosen someone. You can arrange your very own language exchange via Skype!
4) Volunteer at your local Care or Nursing Home for the elderly
Local care and nursing homes for the elderly may have Spanish-speakers that would love someone spend time conversing in their native language with them. Again it will take a bit of research to get a list together and contact them but it can be a very rewarding experience.
5) Work experience
What better way to practice speaking than with professionals who are passionate about the language themselves. Contact your local language schools, tutors, teachers and see if they are willing to take on a volunteer. I myself am due to take someone on for this exact reason so believe me when I say it works 🙂
Don’t forget to prepare for these conversation opporunities! Check out No. #4 on this list by Fluenta about getting prepared by reading something or watching something in Spanish before hand – both are great tips!
Do you have any more ideas? If so feel free to share them in the comments below!