At SPEAK, Buddies volunteer their own time to give courses and I’m sure we’d all agree, we couldn’t be more grateful!

But it can be quite a daunting task to take on the role of Buddy for the first time, especially if you’ve never had experience in it before!

Marisa Mercês is a first-time Portuguese Buddy with us from Porto, and she shares her experiences of what it is like to be a Buddy with SPEAK. Thank you Marisa for your kind words and your hard work!

I had never ever thought about teaching Portuguese. Honestly! But when I moved to Porto, and a friend talked to me about SPEAK and how I’d love it, I thought I should give it a try.

My biggest concern then was that I had no idea what topics to discuss or materials to use. To be honest, I wasn’t sure I would even have the time to prepare materials. Thus, I was really happy when I was told there was a manual for Buddies with “dos and don’ts”, as well as ideas for the sessions AND – drum roll – materials were provided! How awesome is that?


Being a buddy for SPEAK gives you a lot. It gives you friends (or at least acquaintances), and knowledge not just from other countries and cultures but also your own. I, personally, love to hear about the funny things participants from my group encounter in Portugal. I love it when we notice the same things, or when I get to explain how things are from our perspective. It helps when you are settling to a new country to have a space where you can ask questions without the concern of offending people. We are there to help the students feel at home in Portugal, to help “unknot” the mess that is an unknown culture and language.

For people who have not had the possibility to leave their own country, SPEAK gives you a “window into the world”, to get out there and understand that we, as humans, are all basically the same. To learn whether you need to tip at a restaurant in Spain, or how to accept business cards in China, or even how to sit appropriately in Thailand!

All this, without having to move abroad to all these places! For those, like myself, who have travelled the world, it gives you 90 minutes a week of the world out there that you miss.

Other than the courses, SPEAK promotes events in the different cities, and this is a tremendous opportunity to meet people and practice languages. And to mingle! 🙂

For me what is more important, I think, is that I give as much as I take from this experience. That I feel helpful, but also that I actually help. That I remember that, at the end of the day, this shouldn’t be about me.  

What about you? Are you ready to Share Your World?

If you would like to join Marisa and become a Buddy with SPEAK, head over to the SPEAK portal here! –

Author: Zoe Ford

Zoe is an intern at SPEAK from England, who loves learning languages and dancing salsa.

Author: Zoe Ford

Zoe is an intern at SPEAK from England, who loves learning languages and dancing salsa.

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