Start language tables at lunch to give students more opportunities to speak languages other than the dominant language at school.
Foster multilingualism at your school and get language-speakers and language-learners together at lunch. Can native Spanish speakers sit with students in Spanish class? What about students who are learning English, French, Pashto, Mandarin, German, Latin, or any other language?
If there aren’t any interested native speakers, students learning a language can sit together and commit to speaking only the language they’re learning, helping and supporting each other when they need it.
Offer conversation topics or discussion questions to help guide the group and develop vocabulary.
Tips & Suggestions:
- One variation is to alternate languages at a table. For example, if native Spanish speakers want to improve their English and native English speakers want to improve their Spanish, they can alternate languages spoken to help everyone.
- Groups can talk about social topics or academic topics.
- It takes approximately 2 to 3 years to reach basic communicative proficiency in English but 5 to 7 years to reach the academic language proficiency of native speakers. Even though some students may seem fluent they may be struggling to keep up with academic work that isn’t in their native language (Collier, 1989).
- Many students experience anxiety while learning a new language, practicing with peers outside of the classroom is a great way for students to ease their anxiety (Ganschow, & Sparks, 1996).
- Eating with others fosters community integration and improves social well-being (Julier, 2013).