About Intercambio Classes

Intercambio at CMC’s Roaring Fork Campus fosters peer learning and cultural understanding

“Students have built up a lot of trust with each other because they realize everyone gets tongue-tied once in a while. When that happens there’s no shame involved for the speaker, rather, it’s an opportunity to learn.” – Instructor Lucy Stephenson

Students meet under the direction of three professors. ESL and Spanish instructors use cooperative learning strategies, whole group activities, mixed language one-on-one pairings, small groups, and lessons in same language groups.

The result is an atmosphere that closely resembles the experience of language immersion in another country. While it can’t duplicate the experience of residing in another country, Intercambio succeeds in mixing native speakers of both languages, fostering a cooperative atmosphere.

Trust grows out of the relationships formed among the students. Usually there are 40 people in class, half Latinos and half Anglos, creating 20 pairs. The students use these one-on-one partnerships to speak regularly in their second language. Because each partner is getting to know someone personally from another culture, there’s an investment in the other person and motivation to experience and learn their language.

“It’s hard to learn a language divorced from learning the culture. They go hand in hand,” – student Jeff Carlson.

While textbooks are non-existent in the Intercambio format, each session is structured, focusing on a different theme that is common between the cultures such as family, art, food and institutions. These themes create a context for second language learning.

“(Intercambio offers) an opening direction. I come here to learn English, but we share a lot of things. We learn about other people’s lives.” – Mexican native Brenda Thomas