I had the chance to interview Sanorah, the founder of The Language Lounge. The Language Lounge is a social venue for the language community to gather, share, grow and exercise their skills. Today The Language Lounge is located in Ottawa but Sanorah is very passionate about the whole idea of providing a friendly space where language learners can stay engaged with the new languages they’re learning and she is thinking about expanding to other cities.
I studied about 15 languages but unfortunately I don’t speak them all because I have no one to practice with. The very limited options for speaking a language are not really working for me. It’s mostly like meetups where you gather in restaurants and bars, most of the time you don’t even speak the language. The idea mostly came out of a need just having a place I can go to on my own schedule and meet the people who have the same goal, speaking the language they’re learning. Otherwise you have to travel for months and most of us can’t afford to do that. We need something that keeps us focused on the language the whole time. Something we can do on our schedule. Also something that offers some more focused activities for those who need to learn a specific subject, grammar points or a context in a more fun and natural way. After you take language classes, hire tutors or use apps to learn a language, you come to The Language Lounge to use it and get comfortable speaking it without traveling.
I’m perfectly bilingual so I help people with English and French and I also host workshops in Spanish, German, Russian and Mandarin but The Language Lounge is for any and all languages, any and all cultures. It’s just a place to gather, relax and practice a language with someone who is learning it too. The idea is to build a community of people who are interested in languages and increase the chances that you meet someone interested in the same language. This also helps you learn to really speak a language without staring at a screen fifteen hours a day.
You can sign up in our DuoLingo or Meetup events or you can just drop in into the lounge whenever we have a session. You can find the calendar on the website. Also feel free to come by the lounge anytime. The Language Lounge is also a hangout center so you can just come in and participate in activities or do your own individual stuff.
We have workshops and events to practice a language. You can find the calendar on our website. You can also hang out with others, play games, read books and magazines in the languages you’re learning. We’re partnering with companies that make games to teach languages. You can come in knowing literally nothing about a language and you’ll gain some knowledge after playing a few rounds. We also have regular games but they are in other languages like German and Spanish so you can play the game and try to learn the words. There are also books and magazines you can read. If you’re a member you can rent these books, magazines and movies from the lounge. As we grow we’re adding more learning material in more languages for our members.
The workshops you would participate depends on the languages you’re learning. The workshops are designed the way you can drop in and drop out. You don’t really need to stay till the end. The more you participate in the workshops the faster you gain knowledge and fluency. You get out what you put in essentially. So you would want to participate once or twice a week regularly but obviously you’re not pushed, you’re not forced so you go at your own rhythm. We encourage you and we give you as many resources as we can. There be online sites or applications to use, things to do, etc. There are lots of resources to learn a language from so it’s just a question of consistency. Then each person set their own timeline and a lot of people think oh I don’t have two, three hours a day to spend learning a language. But you don’t need that much time. Use an app 10 minutes a day but consistently and hang out at the lounge to practice once a week. You’ll see results at the end of 6 months.
We have a small space right now on McArthur Avenue, Vanier It’s a friendly space offering a new way of being engaged with a language. We are more of a social place to practice languages. You often take a class to learn a language in a traditional language school and then you don’t know what to do after. We keep you engaged with the language you’ve learnt. People traveling to other countries to take language classes stop using the language as soon as they’re back from their trip. Over time they forget what they’ve learnt because they don’t have a community to keep them engaged.
Everybody is friendly in our workshops and events. Making mistakes are not important. Everyone is encouraging and everyone gets to speak. Most people speak multiple languages. Once I was talking to someone in the lounge and found out he speaks English, French, Russian, German, Portoguese, Arabic and Spanish. We tried communicating in all those languages except English and French. Things like that makes the experience more fun. You never know what languages the other person speaks. We’re trying to create an environment of respect where people practice tolerance, acceptance and understanding each other. Learning a language changes you because you learn new ways to structure a sentence, different ways to think and makes you to understand another culture.
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