The LSE Language Community is a place to exchange, volunteer and practice languages. Anyone can get involved in the language community, if you are taking a language as part of your degree, taking a non-degree language course, or simply learning for fun. You do not need to be enrolled on a language course to attend any of the activities offered by the language community, there is something for anyone at any level!
The language centre offers conversation circles, bitesize speaking, and tandem learning opportunities. Different services are available depending on the level of your language proficiency. Bitesize speaking is a chance for 1-2-1 speaking practice and the conversation circles are small groups in which students can practice and improve language skills in an informal conversation. Conversation circles are offered in the 5 languages offered at degree level – French, German, Mandarin, Spanish, and Russian- plus Arabic and English. Tandem learning is available in additional languages such as Japanese, Italian and Korean. Each opportunity is led by student volunteer facilitators who speak both English and one of the languages offered.
My role as a volunteer is to lead English conversation circles which involves facilitating a conversation with up to 12 students each week. My role is to provide an open space for students to interact and ask any specific questions. I also provide some feedback to students from the perspective of a native speaker to help improve their English. Each volunteer receives comprehensive training sessions and the staff at the language centre are easily contactable and always provide great advice if you have any queries.
This volunteer role involves a short time for lesson planning in addition to a one hour scheduled session each week. I plan the one-hour zoom sessions to involve introductions, ice breakers, and topics for debate and discussion. I particularly enjoy directing the conversation to include cultural topics; I love hearing about the countries that other students are from and discussing traditions, cuisine and national holidays. Bitesize speaking works slightly differently where volunteers give one hour of their time per week which is split up into four 15-minute sessions led on a 1-2-1 basis.
What I am enjoying most about leading conversation circles is the opportunity to meet other students from across LSE! As students sign up on a weekly basis, it is usually different people who attend each week so I’m finding that conversation circles are a great way to meet lots of new people. I also like that the responsibility for planning the discussion each week is up to me, so I can choose anything to discuss. This flexibility also means I can take suggestions from people who attend so we can also discuss the interests of other students.
Initially, I was nervous to host the conversation circle and to facilitate the conversation so that it was not awkward and included every attendee in the conversation. However, I quickly realised there was no need to worry as the conversation flowed well and everyone who attended was really friendly! I would definitely recommend attending or hosting conversation circles as it’s a great way to increase confidence in planning and leading a zoom session for volunteers and increasing confidence in language skills for everyone involved!
So how can you get involved?
The LSE language centre recruits volunteers at the start of Michaelmas term. Most volunteers enjoy their experience and so carry on with their sessions into the Lent term meaning the language centre does not usually recruit in the Lent term. So, volunteering for the language centre is definitely something to keep in mind for the next academic year.
You can sign up to attend conversation circles or bitesize learning on a weekly basis so you can attend sessions to fit your schedule. Alternatively, if you would like to practice a language that is not covered in the conversation circles then you can find a tandem learning partner at any time throughout the term! Simply sign up to the LSE Language Community on Moodle! https://moodle.lse.ac.uk/course/view.php?id=6310
Learning a language is a great skill to obtain, and the LSE language community makes this an even more enjoyable experience by offering a friendly space to meet new students and practice your language skills.
If you have any questions for the language centre, they can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
For any other volunteer related questions feel free to reach out to any student volunteering ambassadors or the volunteer centre manager David Coles ( email@example.com) or Sammy at S.L.Alcock@lse.ac.uk