For years, the word Intercambio has been used in many contexts throughout different languages. In English, Intercambio represents a mutual interaction, specifically an exchange of information. Intercambio is an English-Spanish language exchange club on campus. English language learners go to Intercambio to learn English and teach Spanish to Spanish learners.
Six years ago, Andrew Stewart and a couple other members of the Global Leaders founded the Intercambio Club in order to improve their Spanish skills for an upcoming trip to Guatemala. This school year, Intercambio is carried on by leaders, Mariah Grover, Natalie Grover, Valentina Rivera, and Mia Nelson. All of the leaders are confident speaking both Spanish and English and are prepared for another year of Intercambio.
A meeting at Intercambio starts with a full-club discussion led by the leaders. The meeting focuses on what the discussion topics for the day will be. For example, the topic of the day this week was Halloween. A set of questions related to Halloween was then shown on the Smartboard. At this point, leaders help the language learners find a partner who speaks the other language. Partners will focus on talking about the questions on the board with each other in either Spanish or English. Even though the club encourages mainly talking with your partner, many can learn just as much by talking with friends. For most club members, free discussion is their favorite part of Intercambio. An Intercambio member, Miller Olson, shares this opinion, saying, “I like discussion time because I am able to interact with my friends while also practicing a new language.” All in all, a typical day at Intercambio is very laid back and relaxed.
Furthermore, the best way to learn a new language is to use it very often. “It helps to talk to anybody in Spanish. When you go to another country, the advantage is you have to speak Spanish all of the time. You can’t even go to the grocery store without speaking Spanish. Absolutely, traveling to another country helps your language study, ” says Nichole Barlow, a Spanish teacher at M-A. Intercambio almost tries to mimic something similar to this example. The club spends so much time talking with one another because one can learn a lot when hearing someone fluently speak the language you are trying to learn.
At M-A, there are a lot of friend groups that are mostly one race, leaving many students unexposed to new cultures. Intercambio on the other hand completely changes this racial dynamic. “I think in general a lot of the English and Spanish learners don’t engage with one another, so I feel Intercambio is a place where students can engage and make really great friends with one another when they usually might not have before,” states Intercambio leader Natalie Grover.
With many different cultures represented, Intercambio exposes students to new cultures through the discussions they have. Even though students are encouraged to stick to the discussion questions, there is always plenty of time to collaborate by talking about topics other than the discussion questions. Not only does this collaboration improve language skills, but it also creates long lasting friendships between English learners and Spanish learners.