Starting my year abroad in Spain I have discovered that the best way to make new friends and improve your confidence in speaking Spanish is by taking part in 'language exchange events'. In most cities there are language exchange events and it usually costs two euros and takes place in a tapas bar/café or a restaurant. This is a relaxed setting where you get placed at a table with a mixture of nationalities, for example Spanish, Italian, American and French.
For the first hour everyone had to speak Spanish, this was most useful to me as there were native speakers at the table helping to guide the conversation and asking questions to the group. I was eager to practise my Spanish, but I am normally too shy in case I make a mistake; however, being seated with a group of people with mixed levels of Spanish, it brought my confidence up and I wasn't afraid of making mistakes. There were also some Polish speakers there so it provided an ice-breaker when they asked if we all wanted to learn some Polish words, and believe me, trying to pronounce the word 'table' in Polish was difficult but it led to everyone laughing and having a good time. The language exchange is also a good opportunity to try some local cuisine. There was a selection of tapas if you were hungry or you could buy a drink. Being British, I asked for a tea and it was different from what I expected but it was very delicious and sweet. I would certainly ask for it again!
Not only is it a good chance to practise the language but it is also a great opportunity to learn about the culture and to see how it differs from my own. I also found out more about the city I'm living in, such as finding out that museums are free on Sunday or where the best places to explore on my days off are.
Would you like to participate in a language exchange? What languages would you like to practise?