This is the third year of Language Partners BC, a volunteer-run language organization in Vancouver. The project started with an influx of Syrian refugees in the winter of 2015-2016 and the idea that a partner-based language program might offer connections and solidarity between people in our city. Now, as we go into our third year of operation, it feels like time for a reflection on what’s going well, what ongoing challenges we face, and where the work may lead.
In September we hosted a Community Languages Festival at Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House. Listen from 1:00:23 to hear Mary speak about the festival.
In the six years since tandem UBC — a partner-based conversational language program — launched at the University of British Columbia, its directors never expected to see it become the largest “tandem” style program in the world.
Students at UBC participate in a language exchange offered by tandem UBC, using an innovative learning model in which partners are paired by an online algorithm and converse with each other in their own languages | Photo: UBC tandem Language Learning Program
"When you talk about something, about culture, about language.... It made us friends,"
Moving to a new city and making friends can feel like an insurmountable task — especially when you're also trying to get the hang of a new language.
Coordinator of Language Partners BC, Mary, and program facilitator, Mamo, discuss how language exchanges can help with On the Coast at CBC.
Language Partners B.C. students participate in the mixed Turkish-English program | Photo: Language Partners B.C.
Focused on community-building and learning other languages in a small group setting, ‘profound’ new language exchange set to expand in New Year.
Vancouver language exchange partners Ayla Harker, a Canadian, and Asma Hussein, who is Syrian, took part in Language Partners B.C.'s Arabic-English exchange earlier this year. According to the program's founder Mary Leighton, "neither spoke any of the other language when they started." | Photo by Norma Ibarra