Newcastle University Modern Languages Society has set up a foreign language conversation group.
The Society is running a weekly free-of-cost conversation club for which the foreign language will alternate each time. While the foreign language conversation groups offered by the Languages Resources Centre are highly praised by their participants, the spaces for these groups often fill very quickly or do not fit into students’ timetables. To meet demand, the Society has therefore decided to independently organise additional classes where attendees can benefit from the presence of native speakers. This also helps the Society to meet its aim of promoting and encouraging language learning, which can be difficult for them to do as the Society itself is unable to provide taught language lessons due to lack of funds.
The announcement has been warmly received by members of the Society, who include students of the School of Modern Languages, those who learn languages as a hobby and non-native speakers who wish to improve their English, many of whom are Erasmus students studying for a semester in Newcastle.
Captain of the Modern Languages Society’s football team Borussia Modlangbach Jack Redley was the driving force behind the idea. The final-year Spanish and Portuguese student held the first conversation group, which was for Portuguese, at By The River Brew Co bar on the Quayside on Monday 12th. This group was attended by approximately 20 native English speakers with six native Portuguese speakers from Brazil and Portugal who are currently studying at Newcastle University. As well as free-flowing conversation, games were also played to encourage a fun and informal environment in which attendees could feel comfortable practising their Portuguese without fear of embarrassment or making mistakes.
Many students who have a strong interest in the Portuguese language but are unable to study it as part of their degree attended the event and enjoyed the opportunity to speak to native speakers in a relaxed environment.
Attendee Rebecca Doneghan, final year Linguistics student, said of the event, “I was quite nervous about going to the café as I knew the [Portuguese] levels of others would be higher than mine. I enjoyed it though, and was glad for the chance to listen which I find helps my learning. Students there were also patient with me and willing to translate words I didn’t understand.”
Attendee Corin Wright, first year German and Spanish student, said, “I hadn’t spoken Portuguese in a while so it was a great way to immerse myself in the language once again and meet some cool new people at the same time.”
Discussing his reasons for setting up the group, Jack said, “I think that one of the main motivations for me personally was that it can very hard to practise speaking in a classroom of other English people.
“The point of the conversation classes is to get people, ironically, out of the classroom setting to speak with native speakers. There’s no option to speak English.”
The Modern Languages Society aims to run these conversation classes on a weekly basis with a rotational system for the different languages taught within the School of Modern Languages. Native speakers of foreign languages are encouraged to contact the Society if they would like to offer their help for future language sessions. For further information, please see the Modern Languages Society Facebook page or contact President Emma Devenish at E.firstname.lastname@example.org.