Meet the world on your doorstep

Flagged up and ready to mingle at Mundo Lingo London

Iain and I tried out a Mundo Lingo social for the first time last week and, after nearly 20 years of learning languages, found it a really dynamic and refreshing approach to get people talking. Read on for more information on the Mundo Lingo movement and our top tips for getting the most out of your time at an event!

What is Mundo Lingo?

Mundo Lingo has taken the language learning world by storm with over 54,000 likes on Facebook at the time of writing and events across 5 continents, so where did it all begin? Its origins can be traced back to Buenos Aires in 2011 and one British born language lover, Benji Moreira, who wanted to create a welcoming language and cultural exchange environment, and a chance to befriend the local Argentines.

It proved to be a huge success and, as the events attracted over 50 people per week, a flag system was introduced to allow participants to find their language-match without the direct help of the host. This format soon proved popular and in 2014 it was rolled out to new cities across the globe, including Cologne, London, Montreal and Melbourne. In 2017, at the time of writing, Mundo Lingo is established in 15 cities in 13 countries over 5 continents. Please read on or see the Mundo Lingo website for more information on the mission and mantra.

Why should you work Mundo Lingo Socials into your language learning routine?

Mundo Lingo London Managers Jim and Merlina welcome everyone with flags and a smile

I spoke with two really friendly Managers of Mundo Lingo London, Merlina and Jim, who speak 5 languages between them including Indonesian and Slovak. Benji Moreira asked Jim to set up the London Mundo Lingo when it first set up and both Managers recommend Mundo Lingo events to anyone who:

  • Has a desire to practise another language.
  • Is new to a city and wants to socialise and meet new people.
  • Has an interest in meeting people from other cultures.
  • Is visiting a city and wants to meet local people and get tips on best areas to visit.

“I am a firm believer that theory and practice = perfect. After a short stint possibly at a language course teaching the basics, grammar, alphabet, how to form basic sentences, it is more important to practise what you have learnt. This is where Mundo Lingo comes in, and many get the practice that they could be lacking from class.

I don’t believe in spending a lot of money with courses; motivation is your best friend. Even if you don’t live in the target country, always create an environment for yourself where you are exposed to the language or culture daily. Learning a language is a bit like the movie Shawshank Redemption, every little bit that you do daily counts.”
Serene, Mundo Lingo Manager Melbourne.

What we love about Mundo Lingo!

Mundo Lingo is a great platform to mingle with the world on your doorstep. In one evening, I chatted to someone from Russia, Latvia, Belgium, Turkey and France! People were very sociable, it was a really relaxed atmosphere and we stayed much later than planned as were having such a good time! We’ll definitely be back again and hope to meet some new people and make some new friends, so if you’re there come and say “hi”!

How is Mundo Lingo different to other language meet-up groups?

It’s clear to see that Mundo Lingo has a well-established, international reach and reputation, and is run in a very relaxed, freestyle way. Some things the organisers shared with me that I wasn’t aware of was that Mundo Lingo is a not for profit organisation but, due to the support of excellent staff and volunteers a session will never be cancelled, which is great for consistency and fitting in with our hectic London lifestyle!

When you arrive, you can expect to be met by friendly staff, poised and ready with a book of flag stickers, who have an incredible knowledge of vexillology and are able to put any newcomers at ease instantly. The format is completely freestyle, so you can grab a drink, arrange your stickers in order of strength of language somewhere on your person (i.e. native language at the top followed by other languages spoken). Other keen language enthusiasts will arrive and the fun of finding your preferred flags begins!

Top tips for getting the most out of Mundo Lingo – Organisers’ Insight.

Mundo Lingo Managers Merlina and Jim had great advice for any Mundo Lingo newbies:

“Come on your own, or avoid speaking with friends you come with, and keep an open mind, as every time is different. The one thing we can guarantee is that you will meet new people! Ideally try it more than once as there are always newcomers and the crowd can be different each time. It also helps to stay standing so it’s easier to mingle and move around to new conversations throughout the evening.”

Clare’s top tips:

  • Swat up on your flag knowledge, particularly for languages that are spoken in many countries such as Spanish, French, Arabic, as it will help you identify speakers of the same language.
  • We found lots of people keen to practise their English with us, so sometimes you may need to make a special effort to guide the conversation into the language you want to practise to get the most out of the event, but people were very open to this.
  • Someone short like me might be difficult for others to see the flags so maybe position them on your sleeves or sunglasses for better visibility! (photo of me with flags on sunglasses)

    Creative positioning of flags for shorter people like me!
  • Introducing yourself to new people can sometimes become repetitive, so it’s helpful to think of some interesting questions to ask people beyond the typical small talk, so maybe try a few of the ones below:
  1. What is your favourite thing about this city / country?
  2. Are there any differences between this city and your home town / country that surprised / shocked you?
  3. What hobbies do you have outside of work?
  4. What has been the most unusual place you’ve visited?
  5. Do you know of any other good places to practise the language in this city?
  6. Would you be interested in setting up a tandem language exchange to support each other learning?
  7. What have been the best resources or techniques you’ve used when learning a language?

Bring the Mundo Lingo magic to your town or city!

You can set up your own Mundo Lingo – find out more on the Mundo Lingo ‘Join Us’ webpages.

Tell us your Mundo Lingo experiences and how you get on in comments below or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram – good luck!

Holiday Survival Phrases

Have you ever been on holiday and desperately wanted to know how to communicate some basic needs and niceties, but didn’t know where to start with traditional phrase books often overloading you with complex phrases? Iain and I have visited a whole range of countries and needed to know a few key phrases in the local lingo to get by and make the most of our stay.

After a recent study by the British Council discovered that 45% of British tourists assume that people will speak with them in English, I think it’s safe to say that we need to up our game when it comes to using languages on holiday!

We can’t be fluent in every language under the sun, but I would always recommend learning the following ‘survival phrases’ in the language of any country you’re visiting as it will make your visit much smoother and might even get you out of a pickle or two

Please / thank you
Yes / No
Hello, my name is … Nice to meet you
Where are the toilets? Is the entrance / exit / hospital / pub?!
I’m lost.
How much is it?
A table for two please.
I need a doctor
Do you speak (language) ..?

Our Survival Phrase Success Stories:

I don’t speak Italian (yet!) and when Iain and I visited Rome a few years ago I used my pocket phrasebook Italian to ask ‘where is the entrance to the Colosseum’ (Dove entrata colosseo?) admittedly it wasn’t grammatically perfect, but the kind policeman I had asked really appreciated my efforts and answered me with the information I needed!

I don’t speak any German and when we visited Berlin I spent two days perfecting the phrase: ‘a table for two please’ (ein tisch fur zwei bitte) getting the accent and intonation just right and was so proud when I managed to use it in a restaurant: #languagewins !

What language essentials do you pack when travelling overseas? Please share your key survival phrases and success stories using them with us below or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram – we look forward to hearing from you!