There is hardly any place that is more international than Edinburgh. With over 140 different nationalities, the university is highly multicultural – and multilingual. As a language enthusiast, you could not ask for a more inspiring and enriching environment to learn a language. There are two ways to do it.
First, a huge range of language courses and second, the tandem programme of the students’ association (EUSA). In this blog post, I shall introduce the latter.
1. Weekly Language Cafés
The students’ association offers several languages cafés across the campus every week, the most popular one being the Saturday Language Café at Teviot. It works as follow: Each table is allocated to a language. You decide which language you want to speak and sit down at the corresponding table. There are always native speakers around who are happy to practice with you and tell you about their culture.
2. Speed Lingua
This event takes place once a month in a speed dating setting. It doesn’t have the dating part, though. Instead, Speed Lingua gives you the opportunity to meet a great bunch of people with different national and linguistic backgrounds. It is speedy, it is exciting and by the end of the evening, you will possibly have decided to start learning Chinese – with your new language buddy!
3. Themed Events
Several times per semester, the tandem programme organises themed events to celebrate a specific culture with its languages. In 2016/17 there have been the “Germanic Cultures Night”, the “Spanish-Latin American Fiesta” and “Exploring Cultures in Asia”, and many more events are to come. You can meet new people, practice languages, try out food, learn about customs and fully immerse yourself in a different culture.
4. Finding a Language Partner online
Of course, you can also look online for language partners. You can either do this on this website or via the Tandem facebook group. The community is big and you are very likely to find what you’re looking for, be it Spanish, Korean or Sign Language.
The students’ association’s tandem programme is not just about languages. It is all about cultural exchange and socialising. As an international in Edinburgh, you can greatly benefit from it. I got to know some very nice people in the language cafés and, as a nice side effect, I am now learning Korean and Mandarin from native speakers. And they benefit from me teaching them German. Also, Tandem offers some exciting volunteering opportunities.