Hola mi pana! Today we are going to cover this simple question, “When should you find a Spanish language partner?”
This is a question we receive quite often on our YouTube channel so I wanted to take the time to give a thorough answer.
So when it comes to finding a Spanish buddy, we should be patient.
We should find a Spanish buddy only when we are comfortable.
You see, when it comes to speaking a second language like Spanish, we all have what’s called an output filter. This block keeps us from doing our best.
In other words, this output filter prevents us from using the Spanish we have learned.
When I refer to output—in this sense—I’m talking about speaking.
The output filter is usually a creation of our own minds.
We don’t speak well because of our own insecurities and confidence.
For example, have you never noticed why you probably feel like you speak much better with some people, but when you get with others, everything falls apart?
This happens because you are more comfortable and confident with one person than another.
This used to happen to me all the time.
When I was learning Spanish, I would be super confident with my cousins or my grandma because I had spoken with them all the time.
They didn’t try to correct my mistakes or anything. They just let me talk.
I had no worries. There was no pressure.
But when I had to speak with someone I had never met before, everything changed.
Sometimes I would lose my confidence, I would overthink, and it would affect my speaking and comprehension ability.
It was only when I was extremely confident was I able to better speak with others.
Ironically this confidence wasn’t built from speaking with others, though…
It was built from speaking more and more with the people I was comfortable with.
It was constructed from consuming more and more Spanish.
Trying to speak with others too soon can do more harm than good.
I know this is hard because we all learn Spanish to speak it.
But delaying speaking—in the beginning—can significantly increase your effectiveness in the future.
We should be patient and allow ourselves a silent period to get more comfortable with the language and only speak with someone when we are ready.
This will prevent us from building too big of an output filter.
Of course, a filter will always exist simply because we are human. We care what others think because we want to fit in. It’s natural.
The key is to rig the game in our favor and put us in the best chance possible to have success.
One way to do that is to WAIT until we feel comfortable speaking with others.
How will you know when you are ready?
You will just know.
Everyone is different, so I can’t say there is an exact time but trust me, you will know.
When it comes to finding a Spanish language partner, I recommend that you use a website like iTalki.
I don’t have any type of deal with them or anything.
I genuinely recommend it because it’s a great website, and I use it myself when learning other languages. (I can only comment on italki because it’s the only one I’ve ever used but FluentU has a good post on iTalki alternatives).
It allows you to find a teacher or tutor of your choice.
You can see where they are from, you can watch a video about them, you can learn everything you need to know.
My caution with a website like this is to remember you are trying to find a speaking buddy.
Not a Spanish teacher.
I say that is because some people come to iTalki and do the complete opposite of what will make them fluent.
They find a Spanish teacher and immediately start learning grammar as if they were in a traditional learning setting.
This is NOT what you should do.
Again, you are saving this until later, until you feel comfortable speaking and then using the platform to speak. That’s it. To find a speaking buddy that will hold conversations with you.
When you choose the people you will work with, make sure you pick people from the country whose Spanish you want to learn.
So if you want to learn Spanish from Colombia, don’t work with a teacher from Mexico, Spain, or Puerto Rico, then find a Colombian teacher.
But what happens if you can’t find a teacher that speaks the type of Spanish you want to learn?
Try to find one that speaks similarly.
For example, if you know you want to speak the type of Spanish from a particular country in Latin America but can’t find a buddy from there…
Then try to find one that’s from another Latin American Country.
Their Spanish won’t be identical, but it will be more similar than someone from Spain.
Does that make sense?
I recommend trying to find a few different people to work with.
This will help you in numerous ways.
First and foremost, it will give you diversity in your training.
You will interact with different types of voices, accents, tones, females, males, etc. Also, you will meet different personalities and you will find people you just connect with more.
This will also help you with scheduling issues. If one of your buddies is booked, you don’t have to miss a session. You can just work with another person.
Once you find people you like, stick with them.
In the beginning, we talked about output filters, and we talked about comfort and confidence.
It’s easier to build that confidence and comfort when you work with someone you trust.
Someone that gets to know you.
They get to know your strengths and weaknesses and help bring the best out of you every day without making you feel insecure.
Some of your Spanish buddies will end up becoming your best friends.
Of course, if you have friends who speak Spanish, you could always use them as buddies…
But I’ve found that people on platforms like iTalki are much better.
That’s because they interact with other students daily.
Imagine a guy who is a tattoo artist on the side and he gives people tattoos from his home when he has time…
He may be a good artist…
But he will likely never be close to someone who works daily in a tattoo shop, tattooing numerous people every day.
Because he simply doesn’t get the same amount of reps.
Your friend is probably not going to be the best speaking buddy.
Friends have a way of making fun of us in a friendly way…
But it still gets to us and makes us insecure.
They also don’t specialize in being Spanish buddies or helping people learn Spanish.
You likely chose them simply because they speak Spanish.
On the contrary, tutors on platforms like italki likely work with students all day, every day.
They know how to help you much more.
They will do a better job in letting you talk, take control, and achieve your goals.
Plus, they are getting paid a little to do the job. That means they have skin in the game and will most likely give their best effort.
So after today, I don’t want to hear the excuse, “I don’t have anyone around me to speak Spanish with.”
There are thousands of Spanish speakers in the world today, waiting to chat with you, waiting to help you. You just have to go get them.
Once you find a Spanish buddy or buddies, I recommend that you start slow and then use them as often as possible.
Maybe start with once a week and then gradually progress to 2-3x a week.
On days you aren’t speaking with people, you should still consume as much Spanish as possible.
In other words, just because you’ve progressed to speaking doesn’t mean you should stop with the foundational training that got you to the level you were at.
I’ve seen people make it to the level of speaking, then they stop consuming as much, then they slowly stop talking with others, and then they lose touch with their Spanish.
Make sure this doesn’t happen, okay?
Like I said in the beginning, take your time to start speaking and you will thank yourself later.
If you want to quickly get to the level where you are ready to speak with others, I recommend you check out my free training called the 3 Secrets To Learn Spanish Faster.
Inside that training, I’ll reveal 3 of my most potent tips to speak and comprehend Spanish faster so you can quickly improve.
Don’t feel obligated to attend that training but if you really want to improve your Spanish, it’s a good place to start 😉
But at the end of the day, the choice is yours.