In my opinion it is the most useful and fast way to learn and improve Spanish. If you don’t know what ‘intercambio‘ means, allow me to explain. An ‘intercambio‘ is a language exchange partner. Someone who will talk with you in Spanish, and in return you will talk with them in English. You can easily find partner through internet sites like http://www.loquo.com/intercambio-de-idiomas/ or http://www.openlanguageexchange.com/ . Just put your announcement or look for someone who is looking for a conversation partner.
Let me share my first intercambio experience. It happened one month ago and I was totally afraid at the beginning. I only know simple phrases in Spanish , I don’t know the person I am going to talk with and I know it will be tough to break the ice. After a fierce battle with my very scared self, I did it. I muster the courage to start speaking with someone in Spanish because I realized that conquering the fear is the first step if I want to speak another language. Now talking in Spanish with people has become a part of my everyday life. The process is very interesting because I do it while walking, having coffee and the subject of conversation ranges from the mundane to the profound.
Another variety of intercambio is when you do foreign language conversation with someone who lives in another country and wants to talk with a native speaker but doesn’t have the opportunity to visit the country. You can engage in conversation with them even if they are miles away, just maximize the power of the Internet. In some cases, just to have a long conversation and learn more about the language, they invite native speakers to come to their country and they pay for travels and accommodations. Now that is a job, right? I don’t think so. You might meet a very friendly person and spend a good time together. Who knows, you might find a good friend.
We all have to pay attention though. Make sure you have enough background knowledge of the person who are you going to do intercambio with. It doesn’t hurt to be careful right?
I highly encourage you to go and take the first step! The reward of this endeavor is very fulfilling. Good luck!