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Studying grammar is important to learn a new language, but is it enough? Serene Chia, ambassador for Mundo Lingo, says that actually practicing face to face with native speakers is key - and you can at this regular free event that is also now in Australia.
English
By
Magica Fossati

27 Jan 2017 - 4:47 PM  UPDATED 17 Aug 2017 - 1:06 PM

When it's time for new year's resolutions, many people set themselves the goal of learning a new language or improving a language they cannot speak fluently yet. But what can you do to stick to that resolution?

"Just staying cooped up at home, with applications and a lot of online staff.... that helps a bit but it's only half of [the learning process]," Serene Chia, Australian Mundo Lingo ambassador tells SBS Italian.

"You need to go out and meet people and talk, or just like with riding a bicycle you will get a bit rusty with any language."

Mundo Lingo is an easy way to meet multilingual people to chat with and refine your knowledge of other languages. 

Chia explains that in addition to studying the grammar, a key issue in order to learn a language is to practice talking with other people who speak it, and this is precisely the purpose of the initiative, which was founded in Buenos Aires in 2011 by a British traveler, Benji Moreira, who was trying to improve his Spanish.

Benji had moved to Argentina and in spite of the fact that the locals were generally very sociable, he found it difficult to make friends and integrate into the local culture. For this reason he decided to create an informal meeting for people interested in learning new languages - that grew to become the international organisation Mundo Lingo

"Mundo Lingo is all about languages, language exchange, cultural exchange. We decided to make this event free so that anybody can come," says Chia.

The first events attracted at least 50 participants, while now the free meetings involve hundreds of people from all over the world, in 15 cities, 13 countries and 5 continents.

Undefined

From Argentina, Mundo Lingo has spread throughout the world, and it is now present in Melbourne. Magica Fossati spoke with Singapore-born Melburnian Serene Chia, who is an "Ambassador" of the free event in the capital of Victoria.

Serene learnt to speak Italian as a student in Singapore and during some short stays in Italy.

Listen to the full conversation with Chia in English:

And here is an interview in Italian, because true to the Mundo Lingo spirit, Serene is a bit of a polyglot!

"The best way to enjoy this [Mundo Lingo] experience is to stand and talk to people, obviously in the language groups that people are looking for, but to actually go round and rotate and mingle with people," Serene Chia.

How does Mundo Lingo work? Each new person who joins a Mundo Lingo event is welcomed by one of the organizers who explains how to participate. Everyone gets a sticker flag for each language they speak or that they are trying to learn.

The stickers must be visible on their shirt, placing at the very top the flag of the participants' native language and below those of the languages that they want to improve and practice. And the work is done! All they need to do is go around the room and introduce themselves to new friends.

Know any 4 -18 year olds who are learning a language other than English - in school or at home? They can enter SBS’ National Languages Competition now to win! #SBSRadioNLC17

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SBS National Languages Competition 2017

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SBS National Languages Competition 2017
"What does learning a language mean to you?" The 2017 National Languages competition premise is to encourage and celebrate a love of learning languages in Australia.