The goal of our monthly Language Café during Winter Term 2019/20 was for the international students to meet up with the aim to speak different languages with native or non-native speakers.
Through talking to each other in a causal environment the students have the opportunity to improve their language skills and getting to know each other without the serious atmosphere of a language class.
The aim is a higher learning effect through real-life conversations in foreign languages.
For our Language Cafés we met up in various locations such as Cafés, Bars or Restaurants. That way the students got to know more spots in the city of Hamburg and we had casual locations for our events to make the conversations as casual as possible.
We had the students sign up beforehand to give the event an official frame and to be able to reserve the tables according to the number of registered participants.
During the event everyone was given a name sign that they were supposed to glue onto their clothes to make it easier to remember all the new names and also to give the evening a kind of a playful character.
One time, we tried a rotation of the seats so that everyone would talk to several people that evening. We would recommend "games" like that only for a more private frame like when you have a room in a university and the event has a more structured character.
By "participation fee" we mean that everybody paid for their own expenses at the locations. There was no fee needed for registering.
This event was a highly requested one in Hamburg, the spots filled quickly and people were still showing up without a registration.
Participants really did enjoy the evenings, especially when they could speak German to our ESNers or to others.
Of course, the event can be adapted and transformed in various ways. When it comes to the official organizational frame for example, one could have it take place in a private room and plan some games or activities to "formally" break the ice and then aim directly at different languages and a mixing of the people.