The idea behind Cafe de las Lenguas is to create an environment where people can meet each other and practice speaking various languages. At the moment, participants can work on their English, Dutch and Spanish.
Brigitte Leurink, International student support officer at the ET Faculty, explains why she decided to initiate the Language Café. ‘We realized that students and staff members alike sometimes find it difficult to express themselves in a foreign language. Furthermore, many of our international students indicated that they were lonely and that they found it difficult to understand Dutch English. And some students hold back in class because they are concerned about speaking up in English. We want to create an organic environment where people can practice languages and that helps students to meet new people.’
Leurink clarifies: ‘It is not a language course. The sessions will be very informal. There is no need for people to stay the whole time. They can just pop in for a few minutes, sit down and chat. There will always be one native speaker of the language at each table. Right now we are facilitating three languages, but we are open to adding more.’
About thirty students have registered for the first gathering held today. No registration is required for the future sessions. ‘All students are welcome. Right now we have participants from the ET faculty, but we want to make it broader,’ says Leurink. ‘We hope the Language Café will also foster further integration between different nationalities and cultures. Internationalization is everywhere - on campus and in companies. It can certainly help you to know how people from different cultures conduct themselves. All the knowledge is right here, so why not use it.’
The Language Café will be held every second and fourth Thursday of the month from 5:30 until 7 pm in the Horst.