An increasingly international destination, with huge growth in tourism and foreign residents in recent years (78.6% and 27% since 2013, respectively), Bogotá, capital of Colombia, offers a number of options for cultural and language exchange, where Colombians and foreigners can mingle and practice languages. The possibilities range from conversing in a cafe or a bar, to participating in events organized by foreigners.
The meetings, which are completely free except for the cost of a beer, cocktail or coffee, are designed to facilitate language practice without the use of books. Through spontaneous conversation, participants can shed their inhibitions and express themselves without fear of making mistakes.
Laurence, a 27-year-old from France who arrived to Colombia in mid-2014, attends “Gringo Tuesdays” at La Villa bar in Bogota every other week, where a number of languages are practiced.
“When I arrived in Bogotá I felt very comfortable, and I wanted to stay,” Laurence says. “I like these meetings. Most striking is the diversity of cultures and the cultural exchange that is achieved.”
Travis Crockett, one of the founders of Gringo Tuesdays, told El Tiempo newspaper: “We focus on the most popular languages people want to learn, such as English, German, French, Italian and Portuguese. Other languages are also practiced, although not every week.”
You’ll find many Colombians, such as Guillermo Rodriguez, at the language meet-ups. Rodriguez is a regular Wednesday attendee at SpeakEasy, an initiative run by the creators of Gringo Tuesdays, held every week in the city’s historic center at Candelario Bar. He explains: “I came with the need to practice and found that the topics are always so interesting.”
Beyond practicing or learning another language, these events are also opportunities for social interaction and cultural exchange. “The best part is that you can learn more about other countries and teach foreigners the best of Colombia,” Rodriguez says.
Where and when?
Here’s a list of some of the cafes and bars to practice languages in Bogotá. Place the cursor over the map to learn more about each site.
Where: Bar La Villa, Carrera 14A # 83-56
Every Tuesday, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Polyglot Club – Café Lenguaje
Where: Galería 419, Carrera 4A # 19-56 second floor
Every Wednesday, 5 p.m.
Where: Candelario Bar, Carrera 5 # 12B-14
Every Wednesday, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Let’s talk around the city
Bogotá. Place and time vary.
Bogotá Conversation Group
Where: Café La Comedia, Carrera 35 #26A-16
Every Wednesday, 6 p.m.
Conversation group (English)
Where: Juan Valdez El Virrey, Carrera 15 # 87-94
First and third Thursdays of each month, 7 p.m.
Contact: Miguel Ángel Ruiz. Telephone: 3005612741
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