Local residents and students can practice languages with each other through a new program.
Gainesville Language Exchange — a community organization established in January to help residents practice different languages — will host its fourth weekly event Thursday at The Library at Market Street, located at 112 SW First Ave. The exchange is from 8 to 11 p.m.
The event moves to different venues that allow anyone 18 and up. Facebook notifications inform followers of the location of future meetings.
A recent trip to Argentina inspired the start of the organization.
Co-founders Madeleine Eric and Maynard Shaye couch-surfed through Argentina and visited many language exchanges along the way.
Shaye said there is no multilingual or multicultural organization in Gainesville open to community members without university affiliation.
“We wanted to fill that gap and satisfy the needs of those community members,” Shaye said.
At the events, guests wear stickers that indicate their proficiency in certain languages.
JungJun Bae, a 22-year-old Santa Fe College math major, attended Gainesville Language Exchange to meet new people.
“I think the proposal for this event is interesting and really convenient to attend, especially for those not involved in any institution or organization through UF,” Bae said. “Beer is better than coffee to get to know people.”
Andrea Laba, a 23-year-old UF Russian and political science senior, went to the exchange to find someone to practice Russian with.
“I’m going to Russia this summer and I feel like this is going to help me get there and speak more comfortably,” Laba said.
Laba said she plans to keep coming to the Gainesville Language Exchange’s events in hopes that someone who speaks Russian will come.
“You can have a beer and relax and just converse with someone who’s just a regular person,” Laba said.
[A version of this story ran on page 5 on 2/12/2014 under the headline "Locals chat their way to language skills"]