Multilingual Language Club Evening

January 2, 2017

The other day we held the first multilingual meeting in the five-year history of the Tbilisi Language Exchange Club. When planning the event, I asked attendees what languages they would like to practice at the event. I made simple signs for all the languages (there were 13 in total) and set them up on the tables at our venue so that they would be visible to people entering the cafe.

The rules were:
- feel free to move around freely
- please speak only the language of the table you are sitting at

The meeting lasted 4 hours, 35-40 people came, and I got to practice 6 of my 9 languages (no one else opted for Slovak, Ukrainian, and Polish).

FEEDBACK: people seemed to enjoy it, and several said it was a great idea that we should repeat often.

IMPERFECTIONS: about 40-50% of the people sat down and never moved again for the rest of the evening. The English table needed to be extended quite a bit, while the tables of languages other than the top 3-5 were empty for almost all the evening. All the people coming in would greet their friends in whatever language, distracting their friends from the conversation they were having. Discipline in speaking the language of the table was not very strict (and probably doesn't need to be, until it becomes a real problem).

LIMITATIONS: you really need to have a large area to yourself with no other patrons (guests at the venue). There shouldn't be any loud background music, smoking, or impatient waiters. You need separate tables not next to a wall that would prevent people from getting up and moving around.

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