The Chicago Mandarin Conversation group will now be part of Chicago Language Cafe!
Chicago Language Cafe is a biweekly, multi-language event where each language gets its own table, as long as 2-3 learners or practitioners of that language are present. There is always an English table for people who don't know a foreign language or want to practice their English. The emphasis is on having a fun, casual event, and is held at an English pub in the lovely neighborhood of Lincoln Square (their spotted dick is excellent). Participants are encouraged to move around to different tables if they want to practice different languages or take a break from their foreign language of choice. The organizer, Katy, is super friendly and helpful, and as a bonus, she takes great photos!
I think this is the ideal environment for a Chinese meetup in Chicago. Mandarin is a very niche language here, so having it be part of a larger group makes a lot of sense. Most learners of Mandarin come in with a fairly limited vocabulary, so being able to go to a designated English table (where your contribution will be much more appreciated) is a great option. Katy has cultivated a relationship with a downtown English school, so some native speakers who currently attend classes there will occasionally show up.
That said, there are a couple of downsides to this format:
- There's no guarantee that there will be a Chinese table. Apparently, there usually is, but it's completely dependent on who shows up on a given night.
- Advanced speakers might not get the practice they need to maintain their current level. The casual nature of the event means that most participants will switch directly to English instead of checking their dictionary. This is not, and probably will never be, an immersive language event.
- This is not a centralized platform for hosting Chinese-specific events. So the Chicago Language Cafe FB group and Meetup site are not really appropriate platforms for posting things specifically related to Chinese language or culture.
David will appreciate this folk song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMtbOGrUsqQ
As a side note, I will be deleting the existing Chinese meetup groups on Meetup.com at the end of March. I don't plan to host any more events for them, so there's no longer any need for them to exist.