Community is a very important aspect of learning a new language. There are different ways to find a community, join a community and build a community. Let’s see some examples and discuss why this is so important.
What is community?
Besides being a popular TV show from NBC, a community is a social group where the members have similar interests or goals. Community can also be used as a sense or feeling of belonging and companionship, like in the phrase “sense of community.”
Communities can be large or small, local or global. They can meet often or seldom, but generally keep in communication in some sort of way. This could be a newsletter, Facebook group, group chat or meetings.
Why is community important for learning a new language?
Learning a new language can feel pretty isolating. Outside of university classes or work programs, many people decide to learn a language for their own personal reasons. Depending on their learning method, they may find themselves learning completely on their own, for example, with self-study techniques. Finding a community can help them feel like they are not alone and are learning together with many others. They can share their favorite resources and their personal experiences.
Another reason that finding a community can be helpful for language learning is that it gives its members an opportunity for practice. Whether the learner is connecting with a community of native speakers or is connecting with other learners, being able to use their new language with these groups can have a positive impact on their learning.
Connecting with a community of native speakers can also lead to more learning in that it provides a way to naturally learn more about the culture of that community, mannerisms during speaking and slang that may not be used in courses or textbooks.
What kinds of communities exist for language learners?
There are so many different kinds of communities out there for language learners.
1. Polyglot community
There is a community out in the world of people who love to learn languages and speak multiple languages. There are several different events held by and for the polyglot community, including the Polyglot Conference and the Polyglot Gathering, for example.
There are also quite a few active Facebook groups and Discord chats that are filled with polyglots.
2. Language-learning program communities
Many language-learning programs out there also come with a private community for their customers. For example, in our Language TV Club, we have private groups and monthly socials on Zoom to connect our members and provide community.
In-person or virtual language classes may also provide a sense of community if meeting regularly and with a chance to engage outside of lectures or direct instruction.
3. Local organizations
There are many local organizations that exist to connect internationally-minded people, ex-pats, language learners and supporters. For example, in my local community, we have a great organization called Upstate International and they have several events throughout the year as well as different kinds of clubs and classes. We also have an organization called the Hispanic Alliance, which supports our local Hispanic community and connects everyone through events and monthly meetings.
Business chambers can also be a great way to connect with people who are using your target language officially.
4. Informal groups
This is one type of community that should not be counted out. An informal group can be great because it usually will not come with strict rules, allowing for connection even with busy schedules. Members may also have a chance to modify the way the group operates in order to find more benefit. You can also feel a greater sense of friendship with these kinds of groups because no one is forcing you to meet. You do so because you enjoy the company of the group.
How you can find or build a community in your local area or online
There are a few different ways to find and build communities.
Check Meetup and Eventbrite for any events that might be happening in your area. That is how I found out about this weekly meetup for French speakers in my town. Also check Facebook events or ask in your local Facebook groups if they know anyone meeting for this language.
Check your local news and media about any events happening related to your language or the communities where your language is spoken.
If you don’t find anything, ask around and see if there is anyone interested in starting a group with you. You can publish the event on Facebook, Meetup, Eventbrite or at your local library. This is what we did when a friend mentioned to me it would be great to have a Spanish meetup. We named it the Spanish Dinner Club, created a Facebook group and now meet every month to try out the various Hispanic restaurants in our small city and practice Spanish.
There are tonssssss of language-learning communities online, including on Reddit, Discord, Whatsapp and Facebook. If you google it, you’ll even find other blog posts listing popular communities.
I’d love to hear about your favorite language-learning community or any experiences you’ve had finding or building a community in your local area. Tell us in the comments section below!
If you’re interested in joining our community, you can do so here.