Whenever you're trying to learn a language, it always helps to spend time speaking it with others.
That's why Chinese language teacher Zhu Chen decided to take her lessons out of the classroom for both beginning and more advanced students. With the help of assistant teacher Huiyong Hu, Zhu has started a Chinese Language Table in the college dining hall. The group expands on lessons learned in classes, taking a more informal approach and turning basic knowledge of the language into something that students will be able to use fluently in real-life situations.
"It helps them to have the Chinese table, for their listening and speaking practices," says Zhu.
Now in her second year of Chinese language classes at Hampshire, Ariane Panzer 07F says that the opportunity to spend an hour once a week just chatting over lunch with the other four students in her class and her teachers has been welcome. Time spent discussing planned topics, or simply trying to keep a conversation flowing, has helped her improve her language skills.
Sam Verran 06F studied in the Anhui Province of China through an exchange program, and is now a teaching assistant in Zhu's class. Talking with Zhu and Huiyong helps him keep his language skills in practice, he says.
For Saugat Bhattari 08F, a native of Nepal, taking part in the lunch discussions is a practical affair: "I always thought Chinese would be useful in the future. I wanted to learn back home, but I never got the chance." Now he has the chance both in the structured setting of the classroom and the more laid back environment of the dining hall.