Reasons for my proposal:
I read an old closed question today that asked
Any place to speak with people in online in Spanish?
This question actually has an answer, in theory, I think:
La Tertulia (this is the name of the main chat room for Spanish Language Beta)
I myself have a hard time participating in La Tertulia. When I go there, I feel like I'm walking into a movie halfway through the story -- often, I can't figure out what is being talked about. I try tracing back but that usually doesn't really help, since
(a) there's so much slang I don't understand (primarily Iberian, I guess), and
(b) the five or ten minutes I have to spare aren't enough to capture the flow enough to jump in
A beginning Spanish learner would have even more trouble participating in La Tertulia. I think it would be pretty much impossible.
Those who enjoy participating in Tertulia clearly find it rewarding and I don't want them to change the way they're approaching it.
This site serves two different audiences -- veteran speakers of Spanish who are interested in hidden details and linguistics, on the one hand; and Spanish learners, on the other. Both are valid.
Let's create a second chat room that would be accessible to intermediate learners. It would be a place where people can dive in and have a conversation in Spanish. Just as in face to face conversations, if a learner makes a mistake, that would be okay, if the idea is clear. Men participating there would be careful to make it a place where women would not feel out of place. Spanish speakers would be careful to write clearly, so that learners can understand. If they use slang, they would put a clearer version in parentheses.
Hopefully some of those currently active in La Tertulia would also have some presence in the second room -- but there would be no obligation to do so.
Here are some sample possible topics of conversation:
Books, movies, podcasts
I'm not good at coming up with names of things. I don't have a proposal for a name (at least, not yet).
I would suggest that when someone arrives and proposes a topic, that they introduce it clearly. For example:
[Nuevo tema: Podcasts en español] etc.
If a person wants to jump in later, in the middle of a conversation about rain, they could get back to the podcasts topic with something like this:
This is based on a technique I learned in a class I took some years ago, called "Coping Mechanisms for the Hearing Impaired." (I have a hearing impairment.) We were taught that people with a hearing impairment have a hard time jumping into group conversations, because they have a hard time figuring out what the topic is. The trick we were taught was to have a conversation buddy in the group, who would clearly indicate what the topic is to the person with the hearing impairment. Topics are fluid. When the topic changes, the conversation buddy lets the hearing impaired person know what the new topic is. It's extremely helpful.