What are multilingual and multicultural groups?

Language groups at SPEAK are wonderfully diverse in terms of the culture and language of its participants and buddies. This comes as no surprise. Why? Because SPEAK helps connect newcomers and locals in cities across the world, bringing people from different backgrounds together.
At SPEAK we believe the diversity in our language groups is amazing. As individuals we can all learn a lot from being in that environment. That’s why we want to offer our language buddies some Top Tips they can use when leading their multicultural language groups. We can use different leading strategies during language sessions to ensure that everyone gets the most out of the multicultural and multilingual environment.

What are the benefits of learning in a multilingual and multicultural groups?

Before we share our Top Tips with you, we’d like to explain why learning in a multicultural and multilingual group is so beneficial.

1. Participants and buddies learn to develop tolerance, respect, and familiarity with other cultures. These are important attributes for citizens when living in diverse communities and societies.

2. This type of group provides a great environment for intercultural encounters. These help individuals develop intercultural communication skills – which are key in our ever-globalized world where migration increases daily.

3. Multilingual and multicultural groups are very diverse and a unique setting for the development of empathy. This life skill allows individuals to interact positively with people from other cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

Our Top Tips for the best learning experience in multilingual and multicultural groups

At SPEAK Utrecht we have put together some Top Tips to help buddies plan their language sessions when leading multilingual and multicultural groups.

1. Incorporate group activities into the language session

Group work activities work well in multicultural and multilingual environments. In a group format, participants can learn from each other’s skills and abilities, and become more aware of different perspectives and ways of doing things.
Try incorporating some of the following activities:

2. Activities based on sharing personal stories

These are particularly relevant and engaging for participants in a multicultural and multilingual setting since the curriculum content touches upon real-life experiences. These activities also give participants the opportunity to solidify feelings of inclusion and belonging in the group.
Example – Asking the participants to share an experience where they had an encounter with someone speaking the target language or if they have visited the country of the target language, to describe aspects of this trip.

3. Multilingual activities which incorporate the participant’s mother tongue

This allows everyone to appreciate the rich linguistic diversity present in the group. And it gives buddies and participants the opportunity to learn new words in a different language!
Example – Going around the group and sharing how everyone says ‘home’ in their first language.

4. Activities devoted to openness to others

These types of activities focus on getting to know the other group members. They also help reduce stereotypes and strengthen empathy.
Example – Icebreaker games such as ‘Two truths and a lie’, ‘Group Map’ and ‘Line Up’ are great to get to know each other.

5. Activities devoted to openness to cultural diversity

This is developed in cultural comparison activities, where participants outline differences and similarities between their own culture and the target language culture.
Example – Pick a subject or topic such as ‘mealtime norms’. Ask everyone to reflect upon and share any similarities and differences between their own culture and the target language culture.

We hope that you found these tips useful and inspiring. If you’re wondering what makes a good SPEAK buddy, we’ve got you covered! Check our this post to learn.

Now you’re ready to tackle the challenge! CLICK HERE to become a Buddy and start your group today!

Author: Masha Morwood

Masha was an intern at SPEAK Utrecht from May until July of this year. She has just graduated with a Masters in Intercultural Communication from Utrecht University. Masha is half Northern Irish and half Dutch, and as a result since a very young age she has loved learning other languages and about cultures foreign to her own. In her spare time she loves to walk along the canals of Utrecht, play hockey and watercolour painting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *