Category Archives: #Spanish

Find Native Spanish Speakers to Call Via Skype

If you want to speak Spanish, at some point you have to go beyond memorizing new Spanish words and studying Spanish verbs and grammar.   Besides, that can get a little dry if that is all you are doing.

What you really want to be able to do is speak Spanish, right?  That’s the fun part.  In fact, there is a growing body of language teachers who say that we should spend FAR more time practicing speaking and hearing Spanish than we should spend studying Spanish.  Personally, I think that there should be an even balance between study and conversation practice, for I find that the more words I know, the better I am able to express what I am trying to say.

So I strongly suggest that you find native Spanish speakers to converse with in Spanish one-on-one, and you can find those language partners in LinkedIn ( and speak with them on Skype (   Here is how you do that:

First of all, you need a LinkedIn account.  It is free to establish a basic LinkedIn account, just go to the web site and sign up.  LinkedIn, which is kind of like Facebook for business professionals, will try to get you to sign up for a higher level account which costs at least $24 per month, but you don’t need that if you don’t want it.  The basic, free, service works fine for finding language partners.

Once you have a LinkedIn account, join several LinkedIn groups where you can find native Spanish speakers who can help you speak Spanish while you help them speak English.  Do a language exchange.  So, at the top of the LinkedIn page there is a search box with a drop-down menu that enables you to search for people, jobs, groups, companies, etc … switch it to groups, and then search for Spanish, or Latino, or language, or español, or something like that.  Your search will return various groups, ranked according to the number of members in each group.  The groups with the largest number of members will appear at the top (numbering sometimes in the thousands), while the smaller groups will appear toward the bottom of the list.  Here is a list of the LinkedIn groups that I belong to where I was able to find native Spanish speakers:

  • Association for Foreign Language Professionals
  • Exchanging languages
  • English Spanish Translator Org
  • Spanish Immersion
  • Spanish for Professional Purposes
  • Spanish in the USA
  • Spanish Speakers
  • Spanish language professionals
  • Hispanohablantes
  • Latin America Network
  • Oportunidades laborales en Sudamerica – Jobs opportunities in South America
  • Mexican Professionals
  • Bicultural Latino professionals
  • Language Experts!!!
  • Marketing Connection LATAM

Once you are on a LinkedIn group page, there should be a button at the top that says “Join Group.”  Some groups you are able to join immediately once you click that button, but other groups will take a few hours or days to join before the moderator accepts your request to join.  I don’t believe that I have ever been refused entry to join a group on LinkedIn … most of these groups want to grow their group size as large as possible, so they will accept everyone who wants to join the group.  For example, I am a member of a group called Mexican Professionals, in spite of the fact that I am neither Mexican nor (some would say) entirely professional.  (Smile).

Once you are a member of the group, you can post a message on the group discussion board for all to see.  At that point all you have to do is post something like, “Seeking conversation partner – I will help you learn English, if you will help me learn Spanish.”  Actually, I recommend posting that message entirely in Spanish if you are looking for a Spanish speaking language partner (which is what I did).  For example, “Le ayudaré aprender inglés si me ayudará aprender español.”   Another thing you should put in the posting is your Skype ID, as well as to ask for the Skype ID of anyone who wants to become a conversation partner with you.  

I posted a message like this written in Spanish on about 10 message boards, and I was FLOODED with responses.  They poured in over the next 3 days … non-stop … I actually had to go into all of the boards about 3 days later and delete each of my postings (which also deletes all replies to the postings) because I had to work overtime to keep up with all the people who wanted to do a Spanish-English language exchange with me.  (I deleted the postings after, of course, I had gathered the contact information of prospective language partners).  Replies came from all over the world – Argentina, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, Spain, Chile, from Latinos living in the United States, and from various other Spanish speaking countries.  It appears that there are many more native Spanish speakers who want to find an English language partner, than there are native English speakers looking for a Spanish speaking partner.

I highly recommend that you do the courteous thing and at least reply to everyone who contacts you.   Either reply on the message board acknowledging each of the people who replied, or send each person a private message via LinkedIn.  Like I said, after only a few days I had to go back and delete my original posting to stop the flow of incoming messages.  I now have the contact information of over 50 people throughout the world who are willing to trade Spanish for English with me.  (NOTE:  Don’t be giving out personal information – like a credit card number, duh! – because I expect that there are shady characters out there.  Nonetheless, I am always careful and have never had any problems … I have only ever found nice people to converse with via Skype).

Now you have to go into Skype and send or receive a “contact request.”  Skype enables you to make free calls through the Internet (not using phone lines) to any other Skype member throughout the world.  It is a pretty amazing thing to be able to talk for an hour for FREE to someone living in Argentina or elsewhere in the world.  Again, the key is that the other person must also have a Skype account … if you use Skype to call a cell phone or landline, it will cost you (although it is still only pennies per minute); but if you make a Skype to Skype call (one member of Skype calling another member of Skype), the call is FREE.  I even have the Skype app on my iPhone, and I can use that app to call a Skype member (although I am sure that type of call counts against the total amount of data usage I am allowed on my iPhone).  I think that you can establish a Skype account for as little as $10, and then you download the application to your computer.  If you only use Skype to call another Skype member, you will never even use up that $10 it cost to join Skype … this is money that sits in your account and is used up if you should ever use Skype to call a landline or cell phone.  If you only use Skype to call another Skype member, that $10 will stay in your Skype account.  So … while you are in Skype, send a “contact request” to the Skype IDs that you received from people while in LinkedIn, and once they accept you will be connected.  Or, perhaps a LinkedIn group member that saw your Skype ID listed in the group message you posted will send you a Skype “contact request” that you will find in your Skype inbox the next time you log into Skype, and once you accept that request that person will become one of your Skype contacts.

This is how you can find language exchange partners in Linkedin that you will converse with via Skype.

The other thing I might mention is that while you can certainly make voice calls using Skype, it is more personal to make video calls using Skype.  If you have a webcam installed, and your language partner also has a webcam (which is usually the case), in Skype you can both see and hear the person you are talking to, while they can both see and hear you.  Again, pretty amazing stuff, and it is FREE, FREE, FREE.  You do have to buy and install a webcam, however you can get a very nice one for very little money.  I researched webcams and found a highly rated one on sale at Best Buy for about $30, I bought the Logitech HD Webcam C510.  Most of the Logitech webcams are highly rated and recommended, and range in price from about $25 up to about $90.  My webcam also includes a microphone, so the only other thing I needed was speakers plugged into my computer, and I was good to go.  (If I want to, I can also switch to a headphone set with microphone instead of using the webcam’s built-in microphone).

There are hundreds or even thousands of native Spanish speakers out there right now looking for native English speakers who are willing to do a language exchange.  When I meet someone new via Skype, I usually suggest speaking for 15 minutes at a time in one language, before switching to the other language for 15 minutes, and then back again, etc.  Most people are willing to have a least a 30 minute conversation, and I find it best just to schedule an hour so that there is a time limit.  Also, keep an eye on the clock so that the conversation does not skew in favor of one language … the idea is to get an even exchange, spending 50% of the time in Spanish while spending the other 50% of the time in English.  Some people have suggested speaking English to me while I speak in Spanish to them, kind of a two-language-at-once conversation, but I don’t feel that is a good idea because you need to hear Spanish as much as you need to practice speaking it, and your language partner needs to hear English as much as they need to practice speaking it.  So go 15 minutes at a time in one language, and then 15 minutes in the other, then back and forth again.

I have so many Skype contacts that are language partners, that invariably when I log into Skype now I see that some of them are already logged into Skype.  (You can see the online status of all of your Skype contacts).   So, if I want to strike up a conversation, all I have to do is send a chat message to someone logged in to see if they are available for a conversation, or I can just call them straightaway via Skype to see if they pick up the call.  (I usually poke them with a chat message first to see if they reply).  But the other thing that I have found is that now when I log into Skype, my Skype contacts will see that I just came online, and sometimes one or more will send me a chat message asking if I have time to have a Spanish-English exchange right then.  Therefore, you can be spontaneous and go online and see if you can find someone to converse with (which I do occasionally), or you can establish a regular schedule with specific partners to have a conversation at a specific time and day each week (which I prefer to do, and I have about 5 of those regular partners right now).

So let me say one more time, there are hundreds or even thousands of native Spanish speakers out there right now looking for native English speakers who are willing to do a language exchange.  What are you waiting for?  Go out and find them … and make some friends all over the world!

Top Ten Reasons to Learn Spanish

  1. Learn Spanish because it is fun to learn it.
  2. Learn Spanish to enhance your mental functioning … it works much better, and is a lot cheaper, than popping ginkgo biloba pills.
  3. Learn Spanish because it is the fourth most commonly spoken language in the world, and you can easily find a Spanish speaker wherever you are in the United States. 
  4. Learn Spanish to better appreciate Spanish-speaking cultures … the people, the history, the arts, the food, the literature, the music, etc.
  5. Learn Spanish to enhance your travel experiences, as well as to open up study abroad opportunities.
  6. Learn Spanish to improve your employment potential.
  7. Learn Spanish to improve your knowledge of your own language … it will enhance your understanding of words that you use every day, and also improve your grammar.
  8. Learn Spanish to make new lifelong friends, perhaps get to know better some of your relatives, or maybe learn more about your own ancestry.
  9. Learn Spanish to become a more loving person.
  10. Learn Spanish to better understand what Nelson Mandela meant when he said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head.  If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

Daily Contact with Spanish

You can learn to converse in Spanish, but NOT if you keep sabotaging your hard work and progress.  Why spend weeks or months, and maybe a lot of money, only to sabotage your development by NOT doing anything with your Spanish for days or weeks at a time?  It doesn’t take much to preserve what you have learned, but it does require DAILY CONTACT with the language.  Be VERY AFRAID of going even a couple days, and especially NOT a whole week, without doing something.

From what I have read by language learning experts, even 15 minutes a day is enough to preserve your current level until you can find more time to devote to building upon what you know.  If you want to keep building on what you know, you should spend at least 1 hour a day, but if you merely want to PRESERVE your current level, 15 minutes a day will do.

If you’re strapped for time and in PRESERVE mode, I recommend listening exercises that are FUN.  If you are lacking motivation or just plain tired, studying a grammar book is not going to pump you up.  Here are some fun listening exercises you can do to stay motivated and in contact with Spanish:

Pimsleur – The best program available, and you can borrow it from the library.  It will help you listen and speak, and it is fun and easy to use.

Destinos – This is also a free program, and available at  What could be easier than watching these episodes?  This program will keep your ear tuned to hearing Spanish, and it also includes fun and simple exercises. – I haven’t done much with this program lately, but it is free for the first few levels … and since it is a community of learners, you can make friends with native Spanish speakers who are learning English.  Help each other learn … they help you with Spanish, you help them with English.

The “Secret” to becoming Fluent in Spanish

Last night nine of us Spanish enthusiasts celebrated 1 year of meeting at Mestizo to speak and hear Spanish. It was a fun evening. And this morning I discovered something interesting … it was exactly 2 years ago on the first Tuesday in February that I began learning Spanish; that was the first night of my adult education class in Beginner Spanish at East High School.

Which brings me to the topic for today: For as long as you enjoy the Spanish language, it is important to remain positive and upbeat about your progress toward fluency. Yes, set some aggressive goals and mark your milestones, but don’t let your goals become unrealistic expectations that discourage you from continuing.

Notice I said, “For as long as you enjoy the Spanish language.” No one can force you to enjoy learning Spanish – it is something you either enjoy, or you don’t. If you don’t enjoy it, I’m thinking that you should find something else to do, find something you enjoy doing.

But if you genuinely enjoy the Spanish language, keep moving forward … even if it means you stopped for awhile, and now find yourself starting over … even if it means taking baby steps for awhile … even if it seems that you are not progressing nearly as rapidly as you thought you would, or as rapidly as you would like. At the very least, you’re moving around a few neutrons or protons or whatever in your brain on occasion, particles that you would not be moving around if you were not learning Spanish, and this language-learning-particle-movement has to be better than mindlessly watching TV, window shopping, or hoping that you win the lottery (which would require driving to another state just to buy a ticket).

Seriously though … be hopeful for rapid advancement, but at the same time be at peace with, and grateful for, gradual progress. Yeah, it is work … and it will take continual effort over a fair amount time to become fluent … but lots of people have done it, are doing it, and will do it. Us too!

Despite what some bloggers, hucksters, and snake-oil salesmen want you to believe …. language learning experts say that the process of becoming fluent in a second language requires time on task over several years, especially if you are not currently living in a Spanish speaking country. The more years you spend dedicated to the task, the more fluent you will be. (Me too! I may be saying “you,” but I am speaking to myself as well). SPEAK SPANISH AND HEAR SPANISH AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE, and at the same time continue doing your grammatical studies and reading Spanish.

So today I am looking at what Spanish I think I need to learn next, and I am formulating some goals for the next year … then I will start making steps toward those goals …. and periodically I will gauge my progress …. and if necessary, I will re-assess and keep moving forward … and during the first week of February 2012, Lord willing I live that long, I will probably re-assess and continue. As the personal growth guru Anthony Roberts says, here are those 4 simple steps toward reaching something you desire … in our case, Spanish fluency:

1.Set a goal
2.Take action toward your goal
3.Periodically, assess the results of your actions
4.If necessary, change your approach and continue toward your goal

I do believe that there is an energy, or power, or spirit, or whatever you want to call it, that accompanies INTENT … that if you make it your INTENTION to be or do something, that somehow or another the right opportunities and people and whatnot will show up in your life to assist you in fulfilling your INTENTION.

¡Que le vaya bien!

Spanish Escapades

You can turn anything that happens to you into a positive.

I became unemployed in January, and it is my daily intention to feel blessed during this season of my life. Fortunately, my wife is gainfully employed (which is a blessing), otherwise it may be harder to feel blessed during this period of unemployment … and I expect to receive an unemployment check sometime soon (which would be another blessing), otherwise I might have to work harder at feeling blessed during this time. (That last sentence was probably a run-on sentence, but I actually like to throw those in there now and then … the Apostle Paul is credited with some serious run-on sentences in the New Testament, one of his statements in Greek might translate to multiple paragraphs in English).

Regardless of what challenge you may be experiencing at this very moment, you can view it as a positive, you can find a way to believe that it is the best thing that could have happened to you. Turn that bitter lemon into sweet lemonade.

I feel particularly blessed at this time to have opportunities to learn Spanish that I would not now have with my prior work schedule. In fact, I am filling my calendar up with as many Spanish learning opportunities that I can.

On Tuesday night starting at 6:30 PM, I participate in a Spanish conversation club that is entirely in Spanish. Sólo en español. We say things like, “I go to store Saturday, last, buy apples, I drive my car, store …” The Spanish is not too impressive, but hey – it’s a start.

Thursdays from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM, I am an English tutor to Spanish immigrants. Since my two students (soon to be three) actually speak less English than I speak Spanish, this is a great opportunity to work on developing my Spanish conversational skills. And I have to do a lot of improvising in order to communicate. For example, today my students asked me what I do for work. Hmmm, I didn’t know how to explain in Spanish how I suddenly became unemployed … so I thought for a moment, and then said in Spanish, “One day I was an employee, but the next day I was not an employee … now I am looking for work.” They understood, and in fact replied saying that several of their Latino friends are also looking for work.

On Fridays I meet with Camilo from 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM, he is from Columbia and he tutors me in Spanish. How I met Camilo is a great story, and I’m happy to tell you about it. My wife and I are connected to “Potluck around the Planet,” which is a monthly meal organized by our friend Valerie that brings together international students. One day Valerie sent an email out to everyone saying that a new student from Columbia needs a bed and various other household items. Well it just so happens that I had for sale on eBay at that very moment a futon bed that we were selling to make room for an office in our second bedroom. So I emailed Valerie and asked her to ask the new student from Columbia if he would be willing to trade Spanish lessons for a bed. Bingo! Camilo is a very bright guy, he just began his PhD program, and he is an excellent tutor. For what it cost for a good language tutor, he probably has already paid for the bed, but we have become friends and he is happy to continue helping me.

Saturdays I meet with Jorge from 8:00 AM to 10:30 AM, and how I met Jorge is another great story. I had been using the Rosetta Stone program, but I felt I needed a tutor to get to the next level in Spanish. However, when you are not working, it is wise to watch your spending … and language tutors can be expensive. So, I posted an ad on saying something like, “I will teach you English if you will teach me Spanish.” Jorge saw my ad and replied. Jorge and his wife are from Mexico, and for the last 3 years his wife has been teaching in the “Spanish Immersion” program at one of the elementary schools in Utah. Jorge wanted to improve his English, so we meet on Saturdays so that he has the opportunity to speak and listen to a native English speaker … and Jorge is also a very bright guy, very knowledgeable about the Spanish language, and he is an excellent tutor to me. As an added benefit, me and my wife have become good friends with Jorge and his wife, we meet whenever we can to enjoy a meal together, and I have also played squash a few times with Jorge – and a skiing/snowboarding adventure is next!

Occasionally I will go to a Spanish Mass on Sundays, and at other times during the week I am working through Rosetta Stone, studying verbs, and doing whatever I can to keep moving in the direction of fluency in Spanish. Language learning is a great way to keep the mind active as you grow older, I highly recommend it.

So these are some of my Spanish Escapades, please let me know if you can think of anything else I might try.

One last thing … it seems that I am busier than I have ever been in spite of the fact that I am unemployed, I am not sure how that happens. And at this very moment I am blogging way past my bedtime, so I must say “hasta luego” and “Dios te bendiga.”