Intercambio integrates a social justice-based curriculum and critical reflection through popular education to raise awareness of social issues while providing students the opportunity to exchange their language and cultural values.

Intercambio is a language acquisition, year-long, community-based service learning program offered at DePaul University through the Department of Modern Languages and the Irwin W. Steans Center for Service-based Learning. DePaul University's Modern Languages Department offers an intermediate level, year long sequence of Spanish classes with a service-learning component. The year-long course sequence is as follows: Spanish 124, Spanish 125, and Spanish 126. Through the service-learning component, DePaul students fulfill the Junior Year Experiential Learning requirement (JYEL), which provides DePaul students the opportunity to draw connections between the course content and students' experiences within the community.


Intercambio is a unique program because it offers an opportunity for English and Spanish-speakers to practice their conversation skills, learn about different cultures and discuss issues affecting society. Intercambio works by partnering a DePaul student (English speaker) with a community member enrolled in English as a Second Language class (Spanish-speaker). Thus, Intercambio is an informal space outside of a classroom which allows participants to practice what they learned in their respective language classes.


During each quarter, the service learning component consists of eight, three-hour sessions in a community-based organization serving the Latino community of Chicago. The Steans Center developed a partnership with several community-based organizations throughout Chicago and these provide space, community members, and support. Each quarter topics change and try to build on each other. Intercambio participants explore such topics as multiculturalism, travel, health, and the environment with students of ESL by participating in structured activities and lively conversation.


Requirements and Responsibilities


DePaul students will participate in a weekly language and cultural exchange with English as a Second Language (ESL) student. DePaul students will practice their Spanish skills and help community members with their English skills.


Engaged Participant


Students are responsible for coming to each session with an open mind and willingness to share. Students are expected to be respectful to their fellow students at the site.




Students must attend one 3 hour session per week for 8 weeks. In case of an emergency, it is the student's responsibility to contact their mentor as soon as possible.


For more information on Intercambio, please contact Lourdes Sullivan (