I took a basic Spanish class a while back and when the class was finished I wanted to practice. I asked the class members if anyone would like to join me. All ten of them did.
I found a room at the local library which could be reserved one week in advance. The room is big enough to accommodate ten people; a few more in a pinch. I reserved it and set up a time and date. The group met and I suggested that we have no agenda, no curriculum; just see whatever people brought in to share and do what interested us at the moment.
We began by having each person bring in a sentence or paragraph that they made up or found somewhere. Each person read aloud their presentation and the rest of us, without recourse to a printout of that material figured out what the phrase or paragraph meant. If the presenter made many mistakes, that was just as valuable to us as if it had been perfect. We learned to pick up the mistakes and find ways to make better sentences.
Some members began to push for a more structured approach. I resisted this because I wanted to keep the stress level down and make it attractive for member to come even if they were not prepared. People would bring in individual lessons Spanish Magazine about topics that interested them and would often have exercises for us to do as homework if we felt like it.
For a long time we would spend the last half hour of our hour and a half long sessions sharing books in pairs. I would get pairs of books from the juvenile section; books in Spanish and English so we could compare our interpretations with those of the author. Each member of the pair would read a page, then switch to become the interpreter.
Sometimes during this period members would play Lotería or Spanish Scrabble. People would bring in Spanish language magazine, advertisements, signs, municipal instructions; anything in Spanish.
Some people were interested in visiting Mexican restaurants as a group so that we could practice our skills on waiters and others. This never came to pass, but it is a possible activity for you to consider. Members on vacation to Mexico or Spain would bring back accounts of their adventures, in Spanish. And we would translate.
This group has been meeting for over a year and is still going strong. I am happy to meet with however many show up and I notice that the overriding characteristic of the group is a strong inclination to laugh out loud a lot. Even though we have no plan to follow, we all feel that we have learned much and are more comfortable using the language.
Useful tip When coming to Spain it is wise to have transferred at least the deposit into a Spanish Bank account. (If you haven’t got one make this the first thing you do). It is possible you could lose a sale if you haven’t got the money to deposit straight away.
Useful Tip – When transferring this money make sure you use a currency broker rather than your bank – it is far cheaper.