Learning a language the fun way

Ever wanted to learn another language in a fun, cheap and stress-free way? Language Exchange Ireland has created this environment. They hold a language exchange night in Dtwo on Harcourt Street every Monday night at 6.30p.m.

It is a sociable way for people to improve their chosen language of French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian or English. It is informal and set in an easy-going pub environment. The night is set out similar to a ‘speed dating’ system. You are assigned a seat number upon arrival and sit opposite a native speaker of the language you are learning. You speak English for five minutes and then the other language for five minutes before moving onto the next table and meeting the next person.

The night isn’t too expensive at €5, which includes food, and Dtwo have a drinks promotion during the event with all pints and bottles only €3.

It is an event, which was started in March this year by language students and is becoming increasingly popular with an average of 50 attending every Monday night. Language courses are generally so expensive and time consuming for those with a busy college schedule that learning a language would not be considered a priority. Brian Heavey from Language Exchange Ireland told The College View, “For so many learning a language seems to have a barrier, as people spend their money doing courses, private classes and studying at home but do not actually reap the benefits as they cannot actually speak the language they want. The exchanges cater for all levels, so whether you have just started a language or are fluent, check out this event.”

If you can’t make it into the city centre on a Monday night, fear not. There are still many chances for DCU students to learn a foreign language. The
Street area of the Henry Grattan building has a languages noticeboard for students to get in touch with other students wanting to learn a language.

There are many students looking to learn English in exchange for their knowledge of French, Spanish and other languages.

There are also two very good websites which let you practise your languages. Check out www.language-exchanges.org and www.sharedtalk.com

Emma O’Rourke

A New Approach to Languages

Language Exchange Ireland offer an alternative to classroom based language learning

Una Kelly

Online News Editor

A new approach to learning languages has emerged in Dublin. Every Monday evening at 6.30pm in Dtwo on Harcourt Street people from all over the world gather to improve their foreign language skills.

Language Exchange Ireland, set up in March this year, organise and facilitate language exchanges, with the aim of helping people learn and improve on their Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian and English in a relaxed environment. Attendance at each meeting is around fifty people, with numbers steadily rising. The exchanges are structured so that people may practice with native speakers of the language they are learning. “Unfortunately most language schools, including major universities and expensive English schools, do not put enough emphasis on oral and conversational aspects of languages, which at the end of the day is the most important. Having a language is no good unless you can speak it,” says Oliver McCormack, one of the organisers. “The exchanges set up by Language Exchange Ireland are rectifying this problem.”

On arrival, participants are assigned a table opposite a native speaker of the language they are learning. They speak English for five minutes, then the other language for the next five minutes before moving on to the next table to speak to a new person. There is a €5 charge for the event, which includes food provided during the break. Dtwo have reduced their drinks prices during the event to €3 for pints and bottles.

“These exchanges are a great way to improve your language skills in an organised and easy going manner,” notes McCormack. “As the trend for people learning languages in Dublin continues to grow, events like this are sure to grow as people do not have to make any commitments or pay lump sums for classes. Instead they can come along when they feel like it and learn from native speakers who also want to learn languages.”

The exchanges cater for all levels, from beginner to fluent. For further information see the Facebook page of Language Exchange Ireland.

Language Exchange Ireland

What it does: weekly language exchanges

Why it works: “We get people from all over the world who want to practice speaking the language they’re learning with natives and to meet new people.

It’s a great way to improve your language in an organised and easy going manner.” – Brian Heavey, founder …..

D|two, the late night bar and club on Dublin’s Harcourt Street, is turned into a veritable Tower of Babel each Monday from 6.30pm as up to 100 or more people gather to chat to each other in a choice of eight foreign languages.

They’re attending Language Exchange Ireland, an event set up by 20-something sports management graduate Brian Heavey to allow people to socialise while brushing up on their language skills and networking in a relaxed atmosphere.

“It’s set up sort of like speed-dating where you are assigned a table number on arrival and sit opposite a native speaker of the language you’re learning. You speak English for five minutes and then the other language for another five minutes and then you move on to the next table,” said Heavey, who came up with the idea while backpacking in South America for six months two years ago. “The cost is €5 to participate, which includes food, and we cater for all levels of linguistic ability.

It’s essential when learning a language to actually speak it with native speakers and this is not represented well enough in language schools in Dublin.

“The English language schools are very busy, so we match their students with other language students in Irish universities and language schools and then we also get a lot of people generally interested in languages that may not be studying but are interested in the keeping their foreign language fresh.”

The weekly event is just one of a number of ventures Heavey organises via his event management business RealEvents. It has proved so successful that he’s looking for a second venue to host additional evenings on the city’s northside and has employed a friend in Brazil to set up a similar event there. “I’ve had emails from people who met at a Language Exchange event a year ago and are now planning to get married,” he said.

Another venture Heavey is launching at the end of the month, under the name Languages2Go, is a series of situational based language courses in Spanish and Portuguese held in classrooms on Poolbeg Street in Dublin over a seven-week period. “They will be run similarly to a number of Back Packer Spanish courses I ran last year, in which people travelling to Spanish-speaking countries learn colloquial phrases, terms and words that they will typically use in everyday situations while they’re away,” he said. “For example, one week the room will be decorated like a hotel lobby and the tutor will role play as a hotel receptionist, porter, room service waiter and so on.

The next week, the room could be decked out like a restaurant or various means of transport, and so on.” That course is priced at €100 for the seven weeks and includes free entry to Language Exchange Ireland for the duration of the course. Heavey has also tapped into the growing Hispanic communities in the country by organising a series of parties, such as an annual Brazil Day and Brazilian Independence Day parties, which are also held at D|two. “Over 2,000 Brazilians attend the parties and I’ve flown in Brazilian DJ’s, rappers and samba bands for the events.

The next Brazilian Independence Party is on September 8 in D|two.”