Life—and learning Spanish—is more fun with a buddy!
Learning Spanish independently can be very enjoyable, especially when you’re learning by reading magazines, watching movies and listening to music.
But let’s face it, you need a friend every now and then. If you’re like me, you get a little lonely practicing on your own.
By combining your solo studies with a Spanish language buddy, you’ll keep yourself motivated towards your own improvement goals.
Research shows that working with a well-matched partner is more effective than working solo. So what are you waiting for?
The Benefits of Working with a Spanish Language Partner
Your partner holds you accountable.
Sure, you can make daily lists to remind yourself to conjugate Spanish verbs or memorize new phrases. But this gets tedious. At the end of the day, when you’re working alone, the only person you have to answer to is yourself.
A good Spanish language partner will supercharge your accountability! We’re far more likely to set realistic, measurable goals and actually achieve them when we tell someone else about them. You’ll also be establishing regular meeting times with your Spanish language partner, which will require you to prepare and prioritize your practice.
When your learn alone, it can be easy to make excuses, procrastinate or let other commitments get in the way.
Working in a team will make you more productive.
If you’re more accountable with a partner, you’ll also be able to get more done. You and your Spanish partner can create a schedule and determine which grammar, vocabulary or conversation topics you’ll cover each time you meet.
The result? Instant productivity! We’re all human, and we don’t want to let others down by not pulling our weight in a group study session. By being more productive, you’ll learn better Spanish in a shorter amount of time.
Your partner can help you when you’re stuck.
One of the most frustrating parts of solo study is not having someone to consult for help when you get confused. Google and FluentU are great online resources, but when it comes to some questions, there’s no doubt that talking to a real, live person is the best way to figure it out.
If your Spanish language partner doesn’t already know the answer, they’ll be able to help you brainstorm, research and think your way to a solution. Your partner will sometimes have questions too, allowing for a mutually supportive relationship.
A language learning partner will encourage you.
The right partner will keep your Spanish learning fun! When you successfully conjugate that difficult past tense irregular verb for the first time, your partner will be there to celebrate with you.
Your buddy will be there to enjoy the fun parts of your Spanish learning journey and to support and motivate you when you get frustrated. Regularly connecting with someone who shares your goals is the best part of working with a partner.
How to Find the Perfect Spanish Language Partner
If you don’t quite feel ready to speak to a real person, you can work your way up to one by learning with FluentU’s authentic videos.
Other sites use scripted content. FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the Spanish language and culture over time. You’ll learn Spanish as it’s actually spoken by real people.
FluentU has a wide variety of videos topics, as you can see here:
FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive transcripts. You can tap on any word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used.
Plus, if you see an interesting word you don’t know, you can add it to a vocab list.
Review a complete interactive transcript under the Dialogue tab, and find words and phrases listed under Vocab.
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with FluentU’s robust learning engine. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning, and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It'll even remind you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re studying with the same video.
What to Look For in a Spanish Learning Partner
They’re motivated to learn.
Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation both propel us to reach greater heights. Lacking motivation is a real progress killer—and so is a partner who lacks motivation.
The desire and drive to learn Spanish is a key trait that’ll make you work harder to attain fluency. An equally motivated partner will push you even farther.
They have similar scheduling needs.
You and your partner may get along well, but if you’re a night owl and she’s a morning person, it’s going to be hard for you to meet regularly. Consistency is the key to your successful working relationship, so choose someone whose logistical preferences and needs are compatible with yours.
A partner at the same level of Spanish learning.
If you’re an advanced Spanish speaker and he’s a complete beginner, you’ll get bored quickly and your partner might get frustrated. It’ll be easiest to work together if you’re at a similar skill level.
A partner with something to offer.
If having another Spanish learner as a partner doesn’t sound appealing, you could also arrange a trade—you’ll give English lessons to a native Spanish speaker, and she’ll teach you to improve your Spanish.
This is known as a language exchange. It’s a popular method of language learning that began in the 1960s between French and German students. If you have an interest in becoming a better English teacher as well as a better Spanish learner, an exchange might be a great fit for you. It’s also perfect for Spanish learners who want to make international friends and learn more authentic Spanish language and culture.
Where to Find a Spanish Language Partner
Now that you know what you’re looking for in a Spanish partner, it’s time to go out and find one! There’s a number of great places to find a partner, whether you want your meetings to be in person or virtual.
Don’t be afraid to try a trial session or two with potential Spanish language partners before committing to something more long-term. You’ll want to ensure that you two are the perfect fit!
Spanish conversation groups.
Your local community is a great place to start, especially if you hope to meet your partner in person. Most major metropolitan areas have Spanish conversation groups, which are wonderful for hearing lots of different types of Spanish accents, slang words and word usage. After all, you’ll probably meet a bunch of diverse people with different experiences in these kinds of groups.
You’re likely to find someone in this group at a similar level to you who has interest in doing additional meetings one-on-one. Since the people in conversation groups have already committed to regular meetings and practice, these groups make great pools for fishing out potential partners.
Meetup is a great website that connects you with other people that have shared interests. It’s likely that there’s already a group in your area dedicated to Spanish learning, conversation or culture. If there isn’t, it’s easy to start your own. Like with conversation groups, this is a great resource for meeting locals dedicated to Spanish immersion.
The Internet is the best way to meet partners for virtual work and is also a way to meet people in your area. If you’re interested in an exchange with a native Spanish speaker, Tandem Exchange and My Language Exchange are great places to look. Social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, are also great places to find people all over the globe who want to learn Spanish.
Get a recommendation from a classmate or friend.
Technology is wonderful, but sometimes you can’t replace good old-fashioned word of mouth. If you’re in a Spanish class or know other Spanish learners in your network, see if they can recommend someone else looking for a Spanish partner.
Once you get the word out, you’ll be surprised at how quickly the right partner materializes!
Activities to Do with Your Spanish Language Partner
Once you’ve found the perfect partner, here are some things you can practice with them:
Practice Spanish conversation.
One of the biggest benefits to having a language partner is being able to have actual conversations with another person. Even if you and your partner are beginning Spanish students, you can practice basic conversational skills with simple topics. Make a shortlist of topics that you’d like to discuss. Brainstorm topics that often pop up in everyday conversations in your native language.
Talk until you’re blue in the face and know each others’ complete life stories. Ask them questions to get to know them and share your own experiences. Not only will this bring you closer together as a team, but you’ll also stumble across tons of great anecdotes and stories.
The important thing is that you get used to talking and responding in the natural flow of conversation with a partner.
Create a regular book or movie club.
It’s easier to stay on track with your Spanish reading and movie-watching when you’re doing it with a partner. Create a book or movie club, even if it’s just for you and your one partner.
In this mini-club, you’ll separately watch a movie or read a title you’ve decided on together. Once you both finish by the agreed-upon deadline, get together and talk about what you just read or watched. This is a great way to combine reading, movies and conversation!
Review grammar and vocabulary.
Grammar and vocabulary aren’t the most fun parts of learning a language, but they’re necessary to master in order to become fluent. Your partner can help hold you accountable for learning them. Choose vocabulary words or verb tenses to learn every week, and get your partner to quiz you on them. Compare notes and study materials. Watch instructional YouTube videos and practice chatting by recapping the information you just learned in Spanish.
This is great for when you don’t understand something or are really dragging your feet trying to learn certain material. Your partner can help explain things that they understand better than you and vice versa. Teaching something really solidifies it in your brain. When you approach new Spanish material thinking something like, “I should learn this well so I can explain it to my study buddy, she always has trouble with tricky grammar,” then you’re more likely to retain that information and remember it later.
Make it fun by playing games.
Reward yourself for your hard work on vocabulary and grammar by playing fun Spanish games! Games are a great way to learn and reinforce concepts without feeling like you’re working hard. Get engrossed enough in these games, and you and your partner will soon not only be learning how to speak Spanish, you’ll be fast friends.
Kacie Berghoef, MSW, is a freelance writer and TESOL-certified ESL teacher who loves teaching English to new language learners. She enjoys continuing to improve her Spanish in her spare time and teaches about Enneagram personality types at Berghoef & Bell Innovations.
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