jeudi 24 septembre 2009

Article sur Happy People sur Couchsurfing

Bonjour à tous,

Il y a quelques semaines, j'avais été contacté par une "ambassadrice Couchsurfing monde" pour parler des rencontres cafés linguistiques. Elle m'avait posé plusieurs questions sur les cafés linguistiques, ce que cela apportait, comment ça se passait, etc...

Le résultat a été un article paru aujourd'hui sur le site Couchsurfing. Cet article en anglais montre également d'autres initiatives similaires à Happy People.

L'article est pas mal, surtout parce qu'il met en lien chaque groupe d'Happy People, même s'il ne nomme pas l'association...Tous les groupes ? Ils ont oublié Bourges!! Pourtant je leur en avait bien parlé! D'autant plus qu'Adrien, le responsable des rencontres HP à Bourges est aussi ambassadeur Couchsurfing à Bourges...

Bonne lecture!

Breaking the Language Barrier
Posted right now

CouchSurfers are using language exchanges to connect across cultures.

CouchSurfing language exchanges are currently available in many cities:

Brussels (Belgium)
Denver (USA)
Duisburg (Germany)
Grenoble (France)
Guadalajara (Mexico)
Krakow (Poland)
London (England)
Lyon (France)
Madrid (Spain)
Marrakech (Morocco)
Moscow (Russia)
Paris (France)
Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
Rosario (Argentina)
Stockholm (Sweden)
Toronto (Canada)
Valence (France)

What about starting one in yours?

What traveler wouldn't like to be just a little bit better at another language? When you're asking for directions, catching a movie, or making a new friend, you feel the rewards. But don't worry, it doesn't have to be just grammar worksheets on the way. CouchSurfers around the world are meeting up to practice their skills while enjoying connections with new friends.

Polyglots in the park at Paris' Tower of Babel event
photo: Frederic Raquil, RF Photographe

What kind of meeting would you like?

Language exchanges can take as many forms as there are groups to participate in them.

T0shi, a CouchSurfing city Ambassador for London, organizes monthly meetings for between 40 and 100 people. "I prepare stickers for each attendee when they sign up with 'yes / 100%.' You have your name and the languages you speak. It's not formal, and I don't provide language classes during the meeting. It gives you an opportunity to practice casually and socialize."

Warsowie, who arranges weekly meetups in Marrakech, agrees with the informal approach, but she likes to separate people into groups of people with "one language to share together and one to learn so there is one half hour in one language and one in the other."

Guy van den Biggelaar, who organizes meetups for around 20 people in Brussels, recommends playing organized games. He likes the popular party game 'Werewolf' or 'Mafia' (read the rules). It works to get people talking, he says, because it's "a game of accusations, lying, bluffing, second-guessing, and mob hysteria."

Cheers! in Brussels
photo: Guy van den Biggelaar

After setting up several exchanges during his travels, Laurent Juillard thinks that his ideal exchange is "formal, interesting and dynamic." He envisions the group paired off: a French person who wants to learn Portuguese paired with a Brazilian who wants to learn French, for example. Each pair would start with a formal language lesson, then a cooking class, and then chatting and socializing over the meal.

Vincent Sheideck organizes a large variety of language events both through CouchSurfing and through his own non-profit site, Polyglot Club. These can range from May's 350 person Tower of Babel event in Paris to small local meetings, but he's got some tips he sticks to in all cases. To begin with, "you have to say to people, 'don't be selfish, teach and learn 50% of the time." Also, "everyone stand up so that the interaction is better -- if you're seated, you'll only talk to your neighbors." And he reminds organizers that "people are generally shy. You have to welcome them as they enter and introduce people to each other."

CouchSurfers share why they love attending language exchanges:

"Polyglot events help people improve language skills. A lot of people are studying foreign languages and never get to practice, and thus forget much of what they learn. Polyglot events always have a big mix of levels, from beginners, advanced to native speakers. Their warm atmosphere makes people feel comfortable asking questions."
Sepi Hosseini (English, Spanish, Persian, Arabic)

"It helps foreign people integrate with people who see them as a rich value in the city, not just foreigners."
Romain Galati (French, German, English, Italian, Croatian, Serbian, Polish)

"In my first meetings, it was difficult for me to express my ideas sometimes, but, due to a friendly atmosphere, the ideas started being uttered and the desire to continue conversations happened to last even after the meeting. Progress in fluency is seen usually in a month or two of regular attendance and active participation."
Alexander Volkov (Russian, English, French, Japanese)

"These meetings are a good way to meet people from our own town. And also as it's based on talking (any language) you can really get to know people, unlike in regular parties where it's often too loud and crazy."
Augustina Diaz (Spanish, French, English, German, Italian)

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