Language exchanges in Madrid

I’d mentioned previously about using language exchanges for improving your language skills and for making new friends, and Madrid has many different language exchanges or intercambios throughout the week. They’re the perfect opportunity to practice your Spanish, help other people practice their English and to make new friends. There seems to be a hard core of people who attend these events and you’ll soon recognise them and grow your social circle. Here’s a list and description of some of the language exchanges in Madrid I’ve managed to attend so far. I’ll add to it as I discover new events. Feel free to let me know updates, so I can keep this list up to date.

Monday

Jardin de Bosco – 19:00

This was a tiny bar just around the corner from Tribunal station and Plaza de dos de mayo. The bar had just about enough room to fit the ten people who turned up to the event, but this was a good number to enable everyone to take part in one or two conversations. The glitterballs and music didn’t really help the atmosphere though

Tuesday

Jardin de Bosco – 19:00

This is the same event as on Monday. Again, a small group of about 8-10 people sitting around a table. This makes it hard to talk one-on-one with someone, so if you’re not very confident generally or with your Spanish, this may not be the event for you. If you’re more fluent, you will probably get more out of this. The music was a little too loud, which made it harder to hear people.

Hello Lola, Olé Lola, Calle de San Mateo – 20:00

This is a fancy bar with around 40 people sitting around and chatting in a nice atmosphere. The sitting arrangement means that there’s not as much mingling as there might be at other events, but everyone is friendly and you get to have longer conversations with people. There’s an organiser greeting everyone when you arrive and they give you a national flag, so everyone can see where you’re from. They also have drink promotions for people attending, but I don’t know if they’re great value. I think this is my second favourite event on Tuesday.

Atomic Bar, Calle de Barco – 21:00

This was possibly my favourite event of the evening, which about 40-50 people cramming into a small bar close to Gran Via. The crowd was fairly young and made up of a lot of students. There was a very varied crowd, as I spoke to people from Ireland, America, India, Mexico and China as well as Spanish. Unfortunately, with that number of people, it was very noisy and harder to hear people.

Calle de Valverde – 21:00

This event is arranged by the same person that originally arranged the event in Atomic Bar, but she felt Atomic bar was too small for the number of people going and found a bigger venue. Unfortunately, not everyone got the message, which has resulted in a split between the two venues, so I don’t know if people will start migrating to the new venue or continue to go to both. It did mean that Atomic Bar was a little less crowded the first night of the new location. My only complaint about the new venue is that people started sitting around a small table, which made it harder for new people to join conversations.

El Parnasillo del Principe – 22:00

We turned up about an hour after this even had started, and I think it had already started to wind down, although apparently this was unusual. This did have the huge advantage of allowing me to have a one-on-one conversation with a Spaniard for most of the time we were there, which was very useful for my Spanish. It was obviously an older crowd at this event, with most people being over 40. As this event happens four times a week, I think I will save this for another night.

O’neills Irish Bar – 21:00

This is an event I wasn’t aware of until we were walking home, so I can’t tell you anything about it.

Wednesday

J&J Books, Calle de Espiritu Santo – 20:00

This is a small American bookshop and bar, and they have events Wednesdays, Thursdays and now Saturdays. The venue is pretty small, but around 20 people turn up and it’s one of my favourite events. Given the other events on Wednesdays and Thursdays I’d recommend leaving this until Saturday, but I don’t know if it’s less busy during the week.

MadridBabel

Fran from MadridBabel let me know about this popular group held on Wednesday nights near Sevilla metro station. You can read more information in his comment. http://experimentalnomad.com/language-exchanges-madrid/#comment-889

Thursday

Kruger, German 20:00 – 22:00

This exchange was a very small affair with about 10 people in total, with a mixture of Spanish and German conversations. The bar was large, but very friendly and quiet, which made the conversations easier to understand. It’s a little hard to find because it’s in the tunnel between Plaza de Los Cubos (Cine Princesa) and Calle de Martin de los Heros.  If I was looking to practice my German this would definitely be one of the best places to go.

Beer Station, Plaza de Santo Domingo. 22:00 – late

This was by far the busiest event I’ve been to so far. It’s organised by the same people as the Tuesday night event at El Parnasillo del Principe. There was around 60+ people packed into a large bar with a selection of beers available. The large number of people here made it noisy, but this was definitely the most social of the gatherings. I managed to spot four or five people I knew from other events and chatted with a few. Highly recommended.

J&J Books, Calle de Espiritu Santo – 20:00

See Wednesday.

Saturday

J&J Books, Calle de Espiritu Santo – 20:00

See Wednesday.

Sunday

Beer Station, Plaza de Santo Domingo – 19:00

This is the same event as the event on Thursday at Beer Station and Tuesday at El Parnasillo del Principe.

MadridBabel

See Wednesday.

Which is your favourite language exchange in Madrid? Have I missed any events? Do you have any reviews of these or other events?

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3 thoughts on “Language exchanges in Madrid

  1. Hola David, you have missed perhaps the most popular language exchange, MadridBabel; we run it very succesfully since 2000. We meet at Café Galdós (Los Madrazo 10 – metro Sevilla) every Wednesday from 8:30 pm onand every Sunday from 7 pm on. The atmosphere is very friendly and our staff welcomes the people, introduces them and takes care of everything. There are always more than 100 people from different countries and it is great fun. Below you can find some more info about us, we look forward to meeting you, cheers!

    Founded in 2000, MADRIDBABEL® (http://www.madridbabel.es) is an international cultural exchange group that organizes a lot of activities in Madrid. Its main mission is to encourage and provide the opportunity to practice a wide range of languages amongst people from all over the world as well as create a comfortable venue to make new acquaintances in Madrid. Currently it has more than 25,000 members belonging to its different forums, including Yahoo (http://es.groups.yahoo.com/group/madridbabel) and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/groups/19732127016).

    MadridBabel organizes two FREE weekly international encounters at Café Galdós (Los Madrazo 10 – metro Sevilla):
    • Wednesdays at 20:30
    • Sundays at 19.00

    In addition, MadridBabel organizes many other events. These include parties, tapas evenings, excursions, trips, wine tastings, cinema, etc.

    1. Apologies, but I didn’t manage to get to every language exchange. It turned out to be a bigger challenge than I imagined. I’ll amend the article to point to your comment.

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