I recently wrote this for someone who asked for more information about our Coffee and English conversation group on Saturday mornings. I hope it will help you understand better what we are up to in Lyon!
The need for English conversation groups is so huge here that even though we’ve only been here a year, we have more than 1,000 members. It exploded just as it did when we started the same thing in Japan (that’s still going, by the way! There are four Japanese people who are fluent in English that take turns running it). What’s different from typical English classes at a school is that it is all conversation. Since the combination of people change from week to week, I have them introduce themselves each time. This is also to practice repetition and learn how to add new phrases or concepts as they get better. I have them say their name, where they’re from and then answer some question such as, “Are you a morning or night person?” “What’s your favorite kind of pizza?” “Are you an introvert or an extrovert?”
After the intros, we go a bit deeper. Maybe I’ll ask, “What makes you angry?” “What kind of mood are you in and why?” We’ve studied the five love languages together, explored intercultural differences by using country comparisons on Hofstede’s Insights*** website, we often talk about French culture and what’s easier for some and harder for others. It’s a way of creating community. Cool things happen all the time that are completely out of our “control” such as members helping one another move or study for an English test, going out for drinks or coffee afterwards, meeting up for movies or the opera, etc, etc. And it’s also an inroad to all our other groups since we often announce them there (Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese cultural exchange, Street Clean Up, Sandwiches to people on the street, etc, etc). People start quite shy with their English, but because I make everyone talk and we talk about subjects that are interesting, their inhibitions fall away and they start being more relaxed.
About every two months, we do an “English apéro” (this means apératif but translates to drinks and snacks) at our house where we invite about 20 people from this group over to practice their English and get to know each other better.
One family in particular has gotten quite involved. We had them over for Thanksgiving, we went to look at the light show together, they’ve had us over for Christmas, they participate on Saturday mornings and have come to our English apéros, they have daughters (ages 10 and 13) and helped Fabio make and hand out sandwiches on the street, they came to a Christmas Carol sing at the English-speaking church (!) and who knows what else might God be doing in their lives??? We are building the foundation for deeper talks, but it hasn’t been time yet. They need to know us and trust us first.
Here’s what we have at meetup.com:
What we’re about
Let’s get together to practice English! Led by a native speaker from the United States of America who has also lived in Japan, Belgium and now France, it will be a fun and relaxing time of practicing English. All levels are welcome.
This is a fun and relaxing way to practice English for all levels!
9-9:15am Welcome and grab a hot drink
9:15-10am Guided conversation in English
10-10:15am Free conversation
Hope to see you there!
***A link to Hofstede’s Insights and Country Comparison because it’s just so fun: https://www.hofstede-insights.com/country-comparison/