ABU DHABI: A group of residents is providing free language lessons in the UAE capital. Called The Language Club (TLC), the group teaches eight languages: English, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, German and Arabic.
Started by Colombian expat Marisol Vasquez two years ago, the club has around 20 active teachers who conduct classes at various venues.
“Over 500 people of 45 nationalities have benefitted from the club ever since it was formed,” said Vasquez.
“Abu Dhabi is a melting pot of cultures with people coming from various parts of the world. However, communication among different nationalities is not easy. So I started TLC to help people improve their linguistic skills in order to communicate better with others,” said Marisol who has worked as a translator in many countries and can speak five languages herself.
From its first meeting which had just eight members, the club now has well over 1,000 followers on social media. Each session is attended by nearly 50 language enthusiasts.
Vasquez said she devised a system based on acquiring vocabulary through role playing activities. Every week, the club meets for a two-hour session in cafes around Khalifa City A. The first hour is dedicated to English and the second for one of the other languages. Every month the club holds a language skills week, where conversations are based on grammar or linguistic challenges.
“People who barely spoke a word (of a foreign language) have now transformed into fluent speakers. The classes have also helped people when moving to other countries,” said Vasquez.
American expat Erin Graves Eifert can’t thank the club enough for she can now speak French. “My French is improving weekly as we discuss world news, motherhood, health, parenting, travel and much more,” she said.
For Egyptian Karima Khaled Mansour, the club has provided an opportunity to give back to the society by teaching Arabic. “I wanted to volunteer in something productive and thanks to TLC, I found a way to share my skill,” she said.
As it completes two years, Vasquez wants the club to grow in order to provide the unique cultural exchange to more people. “My dream is to see TLC become the biggest free language community in the UAE,” she said.
For more info, visit www.facebook.com/groups/languageclub.AD/