Learning Chinese Has Never Been This Easy! – Language Exchange at a Picnic
It’s been a sunny Sunday afternoon when I headed to Gongguan MRT Station in Taipei, the meeting point for the FRNCi picnic event. Waiting outside, I immediately recognized the participants of the event with their big bags, packed with food for the Picnic. After some small talks with other participants we got all picked up by the members of FRNCi and guided through the nice campus of National Taiwan University to the location of the picnic – a small, green oasis under trees where FRNCi prepared already everything for the language exchange picnic.
Small Group Size Offers Perfect Opportunity for Language Exchange
Around 40 people from all over the world joined the event and were divided into several groups with 6-8 people after registration. FRNCi split the participants according to their language skills and preferred language for practice. In my group were 6 people, one from the United States, 4 locals and myself from Germany.
After a brief general introduction about FRNCi and the event, we introduced ourselves to our team in Chinese or in the language one wants to learn. It was fascinating how easy it was to speak freely within his own small group! No one was embarrassed by his speaking or by making mistakes. On the contrary, encouraged by the support of the locals and the other team members, one tries to speak as much as possible and one learns fast new things!
Creative and Interactive Games to Foster Speaking in Chinese
The matching of the 1-to-1 language partners for the event happened in a highly creative way. In the beginning of the event, every participant received a token of the famous game “Mahjong”. Everyone in the team had to describe his token in Chinese and the both with the same token became language exchange partners.
We had then time to talk to each other until the unpredictable weather in Taiwan changed once again from sunny to storm. Quickly we all grabbed our stuff and moved to the substitute location where we were safe from rain, thunder and lightning. This didn’t disturb the great mood at the event at all, instead the people got closer together. FRNCi organized some more interesting and interactive games throughout the afternoon and enhanced the language exchange and interaction among the people.
Delicacies the Whole Time – Taiwanese Food and Dishes from All Over the Word
Full consideration was also given to all the delicacies the people brought to the picnic. The food was shared among all the participants and besides from famous Taiwanese specialties like pineapple cake and bubble milk tea, the locals also brought rather unknown delicacies which they had to explain first to the foreigners (e.g. juice from sugar cane or Taiwanese pig blood cake and tofu skin). But not only Taiwanese dishes were shared, also food from France, Germany, Japan, etc. and cakes and biscuits.
Culture Exchange Has Never Been This Fun!
With all the eating, drinking, sharing experiences, and trying to talk in Chinese, the joyful time went by too fast! Even after the official end of the event, some people remained seated for a while to keep on talking. FRNCi enabled an amazing and easy-going language exchange event in the relaxed environment of a picnic. Learning Chinese in this real life environment far from any classrooms has never been easier! With so many local people, it is the perfect opportunity to practice your Chinese – no matter if you are a beginner or already almost fluent!
And with a ratio of 2 locals to 1 foreigner, there are still enough language exchange partners for foreigners! You can build up new friendships with locals as well as people from all over the world while sharing experiences and culture. I can definitely advise everyone who reads this to go to the next picnic as it was a great experience!
Contributor: Franz Traimer
Still being the wallflower in language exchange meetings? Have fun and meet new friends in Speak Easy events! In our next Speak Easy event, we will be playing popular board games and doing Language exchange at the very same time. See you there.