For some, there’s nothing better on a Thursday afternoon than a nice cup of coffee over conversation in a foreign language.
The ETSU Language and Culture Resource Center holds a “Spanish and Portuguese Conversation Table” twice monthly from 4:30-6 p.m. at the Dos Gatos coffee shop in downtown Johnson City. Students, members of the community, native speakers and beginners are all welcome to attend and practice their language skills.
The idea for the conversation table meetings was started by the LCRC director, Felipe Fiuza, in the fall semester of 2017.
“Language conversation hours over coffee are a common thing throughout campuses in the U.S.,” said Fiuza. “When I learned that ETSU didn’t have something like this, I suggested that one of the things I could do was create one.”
The conversations are, for the most part, determined by whatever the participants want to talk about, but Fiuza, a professor of Spanish, sometimes guides the conversation, giving language comprehension tips and cultural lessons along the way.
The conversation tables provide an opportunity for students to casually improve their language skills without having to travel out of the way or worry about being tested on their progress. By just practicing the language with casual talk about everyday things, attendees easily gain confidence in their language abilities.
Christopher Askew, an ETSU junior, Spanish student and president of the International Student Association, attends the conversations and has recently started to learn Portuguese just by attending.
“The best way to learn a language is by practicing it,” said Askew. “You have to go out and actually speak it, and this is one of the best opportunities to do so. It’s an informal setting, so it’s not really a big deal if you make a mistake. It’s all open and very welcoming.”
Regardless of age, area of study or language proficiency level, all lovers of culture and language in the area are encouraged to attend the conversations.