Language exchange events in the city have increased in popularity as the number of tourists and visitors to Medellín rises.
Spanish schools and language learning are popular among those looking to immerse in the culture. While Language Exchanges are wonderful ways of getting your foot in the door in the city, meeting new people, and socializing, I feel that they lack something when it comes to actual language learning.
There’s a strange paradox when it comes to language exchanges and language schools where each have what the other lacks. While language exchanges are great outings with drinks, lots of other people, and a social climate, they lack the structure that actually creates improvement in language, found only in language schools and classes.
This is the gap that Co-Aprender, a new language exchange program in the city, is filling with their twice-per-month events.
Co-Aprender Language Exchange
The Co-Aprender language exchange is pretty new. It takes place the second and fourth Tuesday of every month at Siembra Coworking. They have a very specific methodology, so it’s not exactly a booming social event. On the contrary, it’s a calculated exchange between pairs, partners placed together depending on their level of the foreign language they’re looking to learn.
At this time, they’re exchanging English and Spanish only, as it’s hard enough to get the pairs necessary as it is. It is led by an English and Spanish teacher and attended by many looking to take their language level up a notch.
The Dynamic of Co-Aprender
Basically, you do a pre-sign up, so that they can prepare for a number of people coming. They’re used to working with anywhere from 6 to 14 people, as the program continues to grow. Then you show up on the day of the event, pay the 15,000 COP ($5.20) event cost and get paired up with a partner who can best suit your language needs.
After this, you will take turns being both student and teacher for an hour and a half. You will practice your pronunciation and compare it to your partners’ all while discussing a chosen topic. One of the topics in the past has been Netflix, which led to animated conversations that allow people to share whether they’re fans of the streaming site, what their favorite series were, etc., all, while expanding their vocabulary and going beyond the “my name, is..” or “I’m in Colombia because” etc. that regular language exchanges demand from their attendees.
Instead, language learners explore words that they’d rarely had to employ before, all in a no-pressure setting where your partner is in the same position of simultaneous knowledge and vulnerability.
The Future of Language Exchange
As these events continue to gain traction, it’s interesting to see these types of hybrids that are created out of the necessity to improve the experience, learning, and other factors of the exchange. Sure, the traditional exchange works great for a wide variety of people, but something tells me this is likely one of many experiments to come in this and many other areas of tourism and relocation that Medellin backdrops.
Have you attended this or other language exchanges in the city? Let us know about your experience in the comments below!