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Self-Improvement & Hobbies

Language group so popular it's hard to find venues

Those who take part in this monthly "pop-up" language cafe like it for its casual setting and the fact that they get to interact with native speakers.
The Straits Times - August 27, 2012
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Language group so popular it's hard to find venues A gathering organised last month by Tete-a-Tete Language Tables, which brings together students and native speakers of various languages. -- PHOTO: TETE-A-TETE LANGUAGE TABLES

WHEN management executive Chua Ruo Mei read about foreign language group Tete-a-Tete Language Tables in The Straits Times in February, she was eager to join.

The 26-year-old, who speaks Spanish and Japanese, thought that taking part in the monthly gathering would be a good way to maintain her grasp of the two languages.

As it turned out, there were many like Ms Chua, and the group tripled in size from 50 participants to 150 within six months.

Tete-a-Tete Language Tables founder Terence Yeo attributed the growth to the media coverage that the group had been receiving.

The group brings together students and native speakers of various languages - Spanish, French, German, Japanese and Mandarin - in an environment where they can chat freely. No English is allowed.

The increase in attendance has posed a problem for Mr Yeo, albeit a happy one. He said: "The challenge is to find places which are sufficiently large."

The group's last few sessions were held at venues such as Loof, Tab and BluJaz.

Mr Yeo has also started introducing less common "wild card" languages. This month's was Russian, with Portuguese next on the list.

Those who take part in this monthly "pop-up" language cafe like it for its casual setting and the fact that they get to interact with native speakers.

Undergraduate Lysia Tan, 23, said: "When you speak Japanese to other Singaporeans, they are also trying to learn so we cannot really correct each other's mistakes."

Ms Chua agreed: "I learn the language to better appreciate the culture. You learn much more when you talk to people from Barcelona or Tokyo."

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