Unce unce unce…
It’s time to hit the clubs.
But rather than leaving you with ringing ears and a spinning head, these clubs will leave you with something even better: language skills.
That’s right—we’re talking about language learning clubs. While they might not be as trendy as your favorite nightclub, what they offer will probably benefit you more in the long run.
Language clubs are groups where like-minded language learners can meet up online or in-person. Members can all be learning the same language or even studying different languages. The main point is that they work together to further their language educations.
Learning a language with friends is a great way to increase motivation and focus, but language learning clubs can also provide an opportunity to immerse yourself in your target language, so they’re a helpful tool for any student.
And since being able to interact with people around the world is one of the main reasons to start learning a language, why not start practicing now?
Here’s all you need to know to find a club or start your own, and get the most out of it!
Why Join a Language Learning Club?
One of the best things about language learning clubs is that they make you accountable to someone. Whenever you engage in a big challenge like learning a language, it can be easy to lose focus and give up. However, when someone’s paying attention to your language progress, you’re much more likely to keep studying if for no other reason than to avoid embarrassment.
Language learning clubs also give you someone to commiserate with. When you face setbacks, they can be demoralizing. If you can talk to someone else who’s struggling with the same issues, the language learning process becomes a lot less lonely and intimidating.
Finally, language learning clubs provide answers to your questions. Struggling with a conjugation? Ask the club. Don’t understand a grammar rule? Your club has your back. Suspicious rash? I mean, your club might be able to help, but sometimes it’s better to see a medical professional.
What Can Your Language Club Do to Aid Learning?
Whether you join an existing club or create your own (we’ll cover both of those options below) you’ll get the most out of it by participating actively and driving success for yourself and your club-mates. Here’s how.
- Set goals: Goals can be small, large or a combination of both. Maybe each member wants to learn a certain number of vocabulary words a day. Maybe you want to read a book in your target language together. Maybe you want to use a learning app for five minutes a day.
Regardless of the scale, setting specific goals will help keep club members focused and pushing forward. And, since you have one another, you’ll always be accountable to someone.
- Have challenges: Competition can drive learning, so having challenges that pit you against club-mates can help push everyone towards fluency. Challenges might include learning the most vocabulary words in a set timeframe, or getting the farthest ahead in an online/app language program. Whether you’re playing for a small prize or even just bragging rights, the desire to win will help each club member excel.
Need an idea for a fun language challenge to get started? There are tons of entertaining videos designed specifically for language learners at FluentU, with plenty of opportunity for a little friendly competition. Each video comes with flashcards and exercises to test your understanding and make sure you remember the vocabulary from the video. Pick a video for your club to watch and see who does best on the exercises!
You’ll find everything from movie trailers to hilarious YouTube clips to inspiring talks and more, all organized by genre and learning level. Plus, the videos have interactive captions you can click for an instant definition, visual learning aid and native pronunciation of any word.
It’s an awesome way to actively build your skills solo or with your club, all while absorbing your target language the way native speakers actually use it. Check out the free trial to rev up your language club!
- Discuss a book: Book club-style meetings provide helpful, well-rounded language practice.
The club can select a book in the target language. Then, all club members read the book. Finally, you host a meeting where you discuss the book while using your target language. This way, you get reading, speaking and listening practice.
- Host a viewing party: Let’s face facts: watching TV and movies is fun. And if your language club has a viewing party, you can get so much more out of your favorite entertainment. Simply select a movie or TV show in your target language and get ready to learn!
Viewing parties can work online or in person. For online clubs, you can all watch the same movie and then discuss it via Skype or in writing. For in-person clubs, the group can get together and all watch the movie together. This provides the opportunity to rewatch key scenes and/or take breaks to discuss the movie or TV show, which can provide valuable listening and speaking practice.
- Host cultural nights: Cultural knowledge is important for language learners. Hosting cultural nights is a valuable way to get your cultural education while using your target language.
In-person groups can share food, listen to music or even do craft projects. For online groups, cultural nights are a little more difficult, but group members can still listen to music, do craft projects or even eat thematic food while interacting with one another via Skype or instant message.
Join the Club! How to Find the Best Language Learning Clubs (Or Start Your Own!)
Where to Find Language Clubs Online or In-person
Finding an existing club is the quickest route to enjoying the benefits of a language club. There are plenty of language clubs out there, but finding the right one for you can be challenging. Language students in bigger cities are likely to find more selections, while anyone from a smaller community may have to use an online club and/or start their own club.
This brings us to another important point, as noted earlier: language clubs can be online or in person. Online clubs are convenient in that you can interact with learners around the world from the comfort of your couch. In-person clubs are appealing since they allow for more interaction and more natural speaking practice.
Of course, it’s always important to remember to play it safe when meeting strangers in person. Any club meeting you go to should be in a public place, and you should always let someone know where you’re going ahead of time. Better still, find a friend or fellow language lover to go along with you!
Search Facebook for Online or Local Clubs
Whether you’re looking for an in-person or virtual club, Facebook is a great jumping off point. Many locally-based language clubs have Facebook pages so you can connect online but then attend the in-person meetings. Similarly, there are some clubs that exclusively use Facebook to connect.
To find a club, simply search the name of your target language and “language club.” A menu will drop down—scroll to the bottom and select “See all results for…” Then, click the “Groups” tab.
You’ll see all the options for your search terms as well as how many members belong to each group, which can help you identify the more active ones.
Some clubs are private or regionally based, so be sure to read the group’s page before joining.
Join Polyglot Club
Polyglot Club is a website that can help you connect with other language learners online or in-person.
If you want to join an existing, in-person club, head to the Events page, which promotes local language club meetings. Each meeting’s location is noted on the upper right corner of its listing. You can click on any listing to get the deets on when, where and what’s happening, and then you can RSVP.
If there aren’t any meetings in your area or that appeal to you, you can even post your own event to try to get a club up and running.
Polyglot Club is also a great place to connect with other learners virtually. Once you register, you can search for other language learners in your area or connect with learners around the world. If you like, you can use these connections to start your own in-person or online club. Plus, Polyglot Club has a chat room and text and video chat options you could use for club meetings.
Join a Duolingo Club
Duolingo’s main focus is gamified learning built around repetition. But beyond using it to expand your vocabulary and improve your grammar, you can use Duolingo to connect with other learners through the clubs.
If you want to join an existing club, you can browse “public clubs” on your favorite mobile device and select a club to join. Otherwise, you can start your own private club for your friends and family to participate in.
Duolingo clubs allow you to track the progress of other club members and even compete against one another. Since tournaments can aid learning, this is a great way to stay motivated. Whenever you compete online, it’s easy to become addicted, even if it involves doing a menial task like switching around brightly colored candies.
Imagine what could happen when you apply that addictive nature to language learning!
Search Meetup for Local Clubs
To find language clubs near you, simply enter your location and a radius to search in. From there, find out all you need to know about the club (like their goals and requirements), browse pictures of previous events and sign up to attend an event.
There are dozens of language club meetings listed in major cities around the world. However, if there aren’t any clubs near you, you can also start one of your own.
Search Your Region’s Craigslist
Craigslist may be your go-to spot for selling your TV or buying some lightly used Ikea furniture, but it can also help you connect with other language learners!
It may not be quite as popular as other Craigslist features, but Craigslist does have a “community” section where users can post events and meet-ups where you might find some language clubs. Sub-sections like “activities,” “events” and “groups” may have some listings.
Simply browse posts or search your target language to try to find a club. You’re much more likely to find clubs in bigger cities, but this is Craigslist—you never know what you’ll find.
If you can’t find a club, you can also post your own club meeting!
Check with a University Language Department
Universities are a treasure trove of opportunities for language students, even if you’re not actually enrolled in language courses there.
If you happen to attend a college or university, all the better. There are often language clubs associated with universities, and if you’re a student, you’ll probably be able to join these clubs. All you have to do is find out when and where they meet, which your school’s language department will be able to help you with.
However, even if you don’t go to a college or university, an institution of higher education might be able to hook you up. While university clubs are often reserved for students, university language departments should be aware of other area language clubs you could join, or at least public activities or events hosted by the department where you can meet fellow language learners.
Check with Your Local Library
Your local library wants to help you learn. Why not let it?
Libraries can be an inside source to help you find local language clubs. After all, many libraries host clubs like this, so they can provide you with the information you need on whom to contact, when the meetings occur, etc.
Even if your library isn’t the home base of a language club, it could provide you with the information you need to find a club elsewhere. Libraries often have bulletin boards for local organizations like language clubs to share information, announce meetings and more, so you might want to look over this material carefully!
Plus, librarians seem to know everything, so even if the library doesn’t host a club or have a bulletin board, your favorite librarian might be able to direct you to other organizations or resources that might have more information.
How to Start Your Own Language Club
We’ve touched on some options to find language club members above. If you need more, try online message boards like Reddit’s language learning subreddit.
Message boards are often used to share successes, lament setbacks and chat. But if you’re looking to start a language club, you might also use them to recruit members.
Don’t forget to also check with friends, family and coworkers to see if any of them are studying a language or know someone who is. A lot of people are actively learning a language and even more people are thinking about learning a language.
If you reach out to your friends, family and coworkers and they reach out to people they know, you’re bound to find similarly-minded language learners that can build the foundation for your language club.
Plus, did you know there’s such as a thing as a language-learning social network? Websites like Speaky, HiNative and UniLang help users connect with other language learners and speakers of their target languages.
These websites are designed specifically for language learners but don’t offer specific clubs. However, since they help you connect with other language aficionados, you might be able to cultivate enough of a friend group to start your own language club.
Establishing Your Club
First things first: discuss club goals with one another. What does everyone hope to get out of the language club?
To ensure your club is functional and thrives, it’s important to ensure everyone is on the same page. After all, if some language learners want the club to push everyone forward rapidly and others just hope for some casual language practice, tension may arise. Addressing these issues early will provide focus for your club.
Next, set an agenda. What’ll club members do and when? Whenever you have a meeting, there should be an agenda for that meeting.
Without an agenda meetings can be directionless, and no one likes a directionless meeting, so you could lose members quickly. Plus, developing an agenda for a meeting ahead of time will ensure everyone is prepared with whatever information or ideas they need to get the most out of the meeting.
Once you have your club formed, you’ll need to find a place to meet.
For in-person meetings, find a space to meet up. If your group is small and composed of friends and/or family, you might rotate whose house you go to. If your group includes strangers, a public place like a library is best. Plus, if you’re looking to grow as a club, new members will be less intimidated by meeting in a public place.
For online meetings, you’ll still need a place to meet. Some options include starting a message board or a Facebook group, or connecting via Skype. You might even try a combination of these things in order to find a better balance between written and spoken practice.
So it’s time to hit the clubs! Your language skills will be smoking hot.
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