There often aren’t enough opportunities to talk about language learning in everyday professional life. How can you encourage the conversation? One great way to do so is by hosting language lunches. Held during the lunch break, language lunches offer your employees the chance to chat informally in the language they’re learning. They can also make new contacts, share their language learning experiences, and motivate each other to keep going. The following suggestions for language lunches will help you combine business with pleasure. So why not try out practicing a new language on the lunch break?
What is a language lunch?
The basic idea of a language lunch is to bring different language-learning employees together during the lunch break. There are a few different ways you can do it, but the main focus is having lunch together, making new contacts and adding a bit of language learning – whether it’s actively speaking or practicing listening comprehension.
Neuroscience shows us that people learn more quickly and more easily when it’s done freely and takes place in diverse contexts. Along those lines, language lunches are an entertaining way to boost the effectiveness and fun of language learning and build team spirit at your company at the same time.
How can a language lunch be organized?
What can you and your language-learning employees talk about at a language lunch? There are no limits to your creativity when coming up with topics, and spontaneous conversations are also welcome. While you may want to offer suggestions to get the ball rolling, established groups who have been meeting for some time will often start coming up with their own topics to discuss. We’ve put together a few topics and possibilities to get you started on organizing a language lunch of your own.
Language lunch with native speakers for support
At international companies with employees from different countries, it’s easy to organize this kind of language lunch: One or two native speakers meet with those learning their language for lunch, where the conversation is held only in that language. For example, five employees who want to learn Spanish meet with two Spanish speakers once a week. The participants also agree ahead of time on whether the native speakers should correct mistakes or lead the conversation, posing questions to the learners, for instance, about their weekends.
Language lunch without native speakers
No native speakers of a language being learned at your company? In that case, everyone learning the same language meets together at the language lunch. The focus isn’t on speaking without any mistakes, but on having fun conversing in the new language in a safe environment. You can guide the topic of conversation with structured suggestions. Especially at the beginning of this kind of language lunch, it makes sense to have a round of introductions and have people talk about their weekends. Learners with more advanced language skills can also talk about projects they’re working on at the moment. Even those who are lower in level can benefit by sitting in on the discussion and training their listening comprehension skills.
Language lunch with different learning languages
Are your employees learning different languages? In that case, you can structure a language lunch with different tasks, for example, gathering figures of speech in their learning languages. By setting up this kind of exercise, your employees won’t just get a feeling for the differences between languages but also for the different cultures behind them. Generating conversation about language and culture can lead to animated discussion and can create a learning community, helping learners stay engaged.
The advantages of a language lunch for your company
Depending on how you organize language learning at your company, one kind of language lunch might fit better than another. The optimal group has four to six people who meet regularly every week or every two weeks. The one-hour lunch break is the ideal time for it – or you can do it as a shorter 15-minute language coffee break. After just a few sessions, participating employees will see the advantages of the language lunch: an inviting atmosphere, natural conversation, practical language use, and animated social engagement. Your company will see the advantages, too, as language lunches will motivate your individual learners, enhance the learning process, and strengthen your company’s team spirit in the long term.
Interested in learning more? Download our free e-book on setting up a sustainable language learning culture here.
Maren Pauli, Lead Didactics
Maren is an avid linguist and exploring other cultures through language is particularly important to her. She works at Babbel with her team of language experts and focuses on language-learning solutions for businesses.