Do you love languages and would like to practice them informally? Are you new to this area and would like to improve your English? Would you enjoy having a chat with other native speakers of your mother tongue and at the same time meet new people, have a laugh and enjoy a drink? These compelling questions faced residents and visitors to Penzance last October when Café Polyglot Penzance was first launched. Inspired by a visit to Café Polyglot Falmouth the previous July, Giuliana, with friends Elisabetta, Julie and Phil, decided to set up a similar multilingual informal group in West Penwith for lovers of languages of all cultures and origins.
The landlord of the Bath Inn, in Cornwall Terrace, was happy to let them use the function room on Thursday nights. Since October 2012, there has been a meeting every week during term-time, with breaks at Christmas and during the Summer. Some special events have given people the chance to meet speakers of languages they do not usually speak, for instance: a Christmas Tasting evening, a Poetry evening, a Language Speed -Dating evening, a World Quiz night and a Music and Singing evening. In Spring visitors from towns twinned with Helston gave “Polyglotters” the opportunity to speak French with a group from Plougasnou in Brittany, and Italian with a group from Sasso Marconi, near Bologna. Some of the Italian and French visitors also sampled languages which they were studying, and of course tried out their English with the locals.
When you arrive at Café Polylgot Penzance you are met and directed to the table of the language you want to speak, choosing between: Italian, Spanish, French, German, and English for speakers of other languages. You do not need to be an accomplished linguist, as there are language lovers of all levels. There is no fee to join, just get a drink from the bar and be willing to chat (or just to listen, if you are a total beginner). You will find on each table a small dictionary and pen and paper if you need it. If you like, you can start the evening on one table and finish on another! In time, we hope to bring together speakers of many more languages, but we need at least two, of course, to start a conversation.
There are multilingual cafés and groups, with different names, all over Europe and the world. Many of them are also members of LEI, Language Exchange International, a federation of language cafés in many different countries. So, come along to the Bath inn on a Thursday evening and join us for a bit of multilingual drinking!