March 3, 2016
I’d taken forever deciding what to wear and how to do my hair. I didn’t know what to expect but I was excited to meet someone new. I arrived in good time, my heart pounding in my chest. I’d been looking forward to this all day, even rehearsing some conversation starters in my head. Finally, I went over to our table and there he was. A tall, dark, handsome stranger from a foreign land… Let the language exchange event begin!
I have to say, having now been to one myself, language exchange events are the perfect way to practice your spoken language skills and gain lots of confidence in doing so. I spent my Wednesday evening at a bar in Central London at an event hosted by Franglish. When you arrive, you collect your name badge and buy a drink as a donation to the cost of the event (I was happy to contribute and hoped that heading to the bar would help to calm my nerves!).
“Anglais ou français?”, my language partner asked. I boldly chose French and we started chatting away about our hobbies and favourite TV shows for 7 minutes. The event hostess then went from table to table instructing everyone to switch languages, and we seamlessly continued talking in English for another 7 minutes. As I became more and more confident, the discussion topics soon went from favourite artists and dream holiday destinations to funny anecdotes, interesting cultural differences and François Hollande! There’s a great atmosphere, everyone was happy to offer criticism (and receive it), and you’re even provided with a pen and paper to jot down any suggestions your partner has. I was pleasantly surprised to leave the event equipped with a list of French TV shows (that I would later become addicted to), and some indie hip-hop songs to attempt to understand!
After all is said and done, everyone tends to grab another drink and chat to anyone they didn’t get the chance to meet during the event. You can breathe a sigh of relief, let your hair down and confess any embarrassing blunders you may have made during the conversations! It’s the perfect chance to make some new friends and encourage each other to achieve your language learning goals.
Amongst the many different ways to improve your language skills, this type of event is something innovative, giving you the opportunity to practice your language with a native speaker and pick up phrases and colloquialisms you might never have come across before. At Franglish, everyone had varied levels of proficiency, mainly ranging from intermediate to advanced, but don’t worry if you’re not quite ready for that yet, there are plenty of language exchange events across London for all levels. So whether you’re learning a new language or just brushing up, definitely give it a go and let us know how you get on!
Charlotte Fraser, Project Manager, Verboo