Language Buddies

The Language Buddies program is a new program that seeks to match or group interested Wes students, faculty, or staff members with one another to practice their language skills over academic breaks through a series of self-paced, conversational activities.

This initiative was launched as the "Winter Language Buddies" in December 2020. Given the high demand and over 135 participants in its first iteration, the now titled Language Buddies program is here to stay.

Testimonials

"It was very cool, as a student, to have a different relationship with a professor and to get to know someone from a more administrative part of Wesleyan too. One great thing about the buddies was that I actually improved my French language skills." (student)

"It was great! My buddy and I originally prepared questions to work on, but eventually just started meeting and chatting about our weeks, which is, in my opinion, closer to what I would want to practice in the target language." (faculty)

"loved it! felt very comfortable with both people. At first, we just talked about ourselves, but in the last several weeks, we watched movies (Kanopy and Netflix) without subtitles, then discussed them. Great experience." (student)

"It went really well! We read through some articles together, watching some short TV show episodes, chatted, and played guessing games in Japanese. I think the games and the conversation practice were most helpful." (student)

"I very much enjoyed getting to know some of my colleagues at Wesleyan on a more personal level and found it incredibly enjoyable to do so in Spanish." (faculty)

"My winter language buddy and I are super compatible and have really similar interests. This made the conversation more interesting, and I made a new friend along the way." (student)

Application

Interested Wes students, faculty, or staff can sign up here by Monday, May 24, 2021. Buddy matches will be announced via email on Monday, June 7th, 2021. 

Please contact Natalia Román Alicea or Emmanuel Paris-Bouvret for more information. 

  • How to be a good language buddy!
    1. Aim to meet with your partner(s) once or twice per week for 1 hour.
    2. Talk about your expectations and method of communicating in your first meeting.
    3. Try to speak in the target language as much as you can and rather than switching to English, try explaining what you are trying to convey in various ways in the language you are practicing - the struggle is actually very helpful!
    4. If you need to speak English, make a conscious break or 'time out' to clarify and after you end the break, get back to speaking in the target language exclusively. 
    5. Since you may end up talking about personal matters, please remain mindful and respectful of your partners' beliefs, values, and/or customs.
    6. Most importantly, this initiative is not designed to be a language course. You should not expect your buddies to provide grammar explanations. If you all agree that it makes sense to go over grammatical concepts, you should feel free to do so, but this shouldn't be an expectation. 
  • Conversation topics

    Recommended: In your first meeting, start with these conversation starters to break the ice and identify your proficiency levels. Bring visuals like pictures or videos that help you introduce yourself to your buddy/buddies. 

    1. Tell your buddy/buddies a little bit about yourself. What is your name? How old are you? Are you a Wes student or faculty/staff? What is your major/field of study? What is your favorite food, music, sport, hobby
    2. Tell your buddy/buddies about your family. How many siblings do you have? What are their names? Describe them: Who is the oldesttallest, funniestShare your daily routine. What do you do during the day? What do you like to do for fun? 
    3. Tell your buddy/buddies about your summerWhat are you looking forward to doing? 
    4. Make sure to discuss a plan for staying in touch over the break! Consider suggesting WhatsApp or other instant messaging options like texting. 

    Browse the following resources for ideas for conversation topics 

    400+ Language Exchange Topics (organized by language level & theme)

    50+ Language Exchange Topics to Keep the Conversation Flowing for Days

    100 Simple and Fun Conversation Exchange Topics

  • Practice your target language with your technology

    1. Change your technology to the target language

    Switch the language settings on your phone and practice saying the names of app content. Find the correct pronunciation or ask your buddy how they pronounce it.  

    2. Find and follow five social media influencers whose content is in the target language.  

    Make it a goal to check out their content every time you scroll through your social media. This may change your algorithm and may give you access to other kinds of content in the target language! Comment on their posts or consider responding to others in the comments. Discuss with your buddy/buddies the content of the comment section and look up the words you don’t know.   

    3. Find and follow five artists on your preferred music streaming service (Spotify, apple music, pandora, YouTube, others).  

    Unsure how to begin? Google _______ (language) artists. Find the artist on your streaming service and browse to see if you can find suggestions from the app. This often comes up as “you might like”, “fans also like”, and others. Don’t be afraid to go down the rabbit hole! Make it a goal to listen to some of their songs and follow/heart/like the ones you want to listen to again. Read the lyrics, sign along, and look up the meaning of words/phrases you don’t know. Consider translating the song and discussing it with your buddy.

    4. Find and follow news media sources in the target language. 

  • Web-based activities you can do with your buddy

    1. Do a “Haul” of your closet or a recent shopping trip! (A “haul” is a social media term for “show and tell”) 

    Hop on a Zoom call with your buddy/buddies. and show them the items! Try to describe the items: What is the item called? What color is it? Is it big or small? If you can, tell your buddy/buddies. what you use the item for, where did you get it, when was the last time you used it, or your plans for future use. Tell them what you like/don’t like about the item, etc. 

    2. Find and watch comedy clips on YouTube in the target language 
    Not sure where to begin? Try typing “comedy central _____” (type in language). Don’t be afraid to do a little digging and watch a few seconds before you switch to the next video. Talk to your buddy/buddies. about the clips and see if you understand the humor.  

    3. Follow a cooking tutorial and do it with your buddy/buddies!  
    Find the recipe for a traditional dish from the country/countries where the target language is spoken.  
    Practice the pronunciation of the items used in the tutorial. 

    4. Watch a movie together and discuss or watch separately and get together to discuss. 
    Use your Wesleyan Kanopy account or your preferred streaming service. Hulu and Amazon prime offer the watch party functionLanguage Learning with Netflix is a Google Chrome Add-On that allows you to compare the original audio and subtitles with a translation in your language, listen to subtitles one at a time and change the playback speed, and provides you with a pop-up dictionary that also suggests the most important words for you to learn. Challenge yourself to watching a movie without subtitles and retell the story as a group with your buddies.

    5. Form a Book Club 
    This activity will require some research and commitment on both parties to find a book or an author from the country/countries where the target language is spoken and coordinate weekly or biweekly discussions about the book. Discuss what stood out to you, identify wording or metaphors you do not understand. Alternatively, you can both select a book you have read before and find a translated version. Discuss how it differs from the original, what meaning may have changed, and others. (I.e. Harry Potter in Hindi?) 

    6. Play Codenames!

    Play Codenames with your buddies. Codenames is a game of guessing which codenames (i.e., words) in a set are related to a hint-word given by another player. 

  • Language-specific: French

    The French section has a list of online ressources:

    https://www.wesleyan.edu/romance/french/index.html

    French films on Kanopy (Library One Search > A-Z Databases > Kanopy):

    1. Les 400 coups: Classical movie of the Nouvelle Vague by François Truffaut, the first of a series that is also available on Kanopy. The story of a young boy who gets into trouble. The other movies cover the sentimental education of the boy (and they are in color). The rest of the series is comprised of: Baisers volés, Domicile conjugal and L'Amour en fuite.
    2. Les parapluies de Cherbourg: Classical French musical with young Catherine Deneuve and very bright colors
    3. La Haine: the forebearer to the more recent Les Misérables (2019), about police violence in the underprivileged outskirts of Paris
    4. Au revoir les enfants: a beautiful Second World War movie by Louis Malle about a catholic boarding school that decides to hide a few Jewish kids. If you like this movie, there are other Louis Malle movies on Kanopy
    5. Fatima: a recent movie about two French children and their immigrant mother dealing with the clashes of cultures and generations
    6. Frantz (François Ozon): another beautiful Second World War movie about memory, loss and love (I don't want to give spoilers.) (Most François Ozon movies will please, but this is the only one available on Kanopy)
    7. Le Havre: in a port city, an old man helps an illegal young immigrant

    Atlantique Movie 

    A senegalese fantasy/horror movie about immigrants and zombies. What's not to like?

    Fren111 Student Suggestions:

    • 
Les Chansons de édith Piaf, et le film Amélie

    • 
Le livre Phobos

    • 
Stromae
 (musique)
    • 
La série sur Netflix: “Plan Coeur”

    • Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (film)
    • 
Le film Pierrot le Fou
 (Godard)
    • 
La série “Pour dix percent” sur Netflix

    • Les films de Céline Sciamma (ex: Gilrhood / Bande de filles)
    • Le film Bienvenue Chez les Ch'tis

    For all levels:

    https://langue-francaise.tv5monde.com/

    On TV5 Monde Langue Française, there are games, activities, and exercises for all levels. Students can work their way through it, and discuss and choose as buddies if they want to “discover”, “play”, or “learn”, and then choose their level. Buddies could make a program for themselves or watch short news spots and answer questions about them.

  • Language-specific: German

    GRST 101/102 and 211, Beginning and Low Intermediate (A1/A2)

     GRST 211 Low Intermediate German (A2/B1)

    • Jojo sucht das GlückWebsoap, die brasilianische Studentin Jojo kommt nach Deutschland und sucht das Glück in ihrer neuen Heimatstadt ...
    • Bandtagebuch mit EINSHOCH 6: Deutsch mit Musik / Arbeitsblätter
    • Deutsch Trainer: Vokabeln lernen
    • Review chapters E-12 in Deutsch Na klar! And practice using Learn Smart in CONNECT

    GRST 212/213 Mid/High Intermediate / low advanced (B1/B2)

    GRST 300 Advanced German (B2/C1)

    German Films on Kanopy (Library One Search > A-Z Databases > Kanopy):

    The Young Törless (1966) At an Austrian boys' boarding school in the early 1900s, shy, intelligent Torless observes the sadistic behavior of his fellow students, doing nothing to help a victimized classmate--until the torture goes too far.

    Effi Briest (1977) In Rainer Werner Fassbinder's adaptation from German author Theodor Fontane's 1894 novel of the same name, young woman (Hanna Schygulla) is married to a much older man (Wolfgang Schenck) and begins a flirtation with one of his close friends (Ulli Lommel) that leads to dire consequences.

    M (1931) A simple, haunting musical phrase whistled offscreen tells us that a young girl will be killed. "Who Is the Murderer?" pleads a nearby placard as serial killer Hans Beckert (Peter Lorre) closes in on little Elsie Beckmann . . .

    Three Penny Opera (1931) The sly melodies of composer Kurt Weill and the daring of dramatist Bertolt Brecht come together on-screen under the direction of German auteur G. W. Pabst (Pandora's Box) in this classic adaptation of the Weimar-era theatrical sensation.

    The Bridge (1959) Bernhard Wicki's astonishing film was the first major antiwar film to come out of Germany after World War II, as well as the nation's first postwar film to be widely shown internationally, even securing an Oscar nomination (Best Foreign Language Film).

    The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum (1975 Volker Schlöndorff and Margarethe von Trotta's powerful adaptation of Heinrich Boll's novel is a stinging commentary on state power, individual freedom, and media manipulation--as relevant today as on the day of its release in 1975.

    Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974) Rainer Werner Fassbinder, already the director of almost twenty films by the age of twenty-nine, paid homage to his cinematic hero, Douglas Sirk, with this updated version of Sirk's All That Heaven Allows.

    Veronika Voss (1982) Once-beloved Third Reich-era starlet Veronika Voss (Rosel Zech) lives in obscurity in postwar Munich. Struggling for survival and haunted by past glories, the forgotten star encounters sportswriter Robert Krohn (Hilmar Thate) in a rain-swept park and intrigues him with her mysterious beauty. As their unlikely relationship develops, Krohn comes to discover the dark secrets behind the faded actresses' demise.

    Baal (1970) Based on the true story of a World War II UFA star, VERONIKA VOSS is wicked satire disguised as 1950s melodrama. Volker Schlöndorff transported Bertolt Brecht's 1918 debut play to contemporary West Germany for this vicious experiment in adaptation, seldom seen for nearly half a century.

    NETFLIX

    Babylon Berlin  (2017-present TV series) Babylon Berlin is a German neo-noir television series. The series is set in Berlin during the latter years of the Weimar Republic, beginning in 1929.

    DARK (2017-2020 -TV series) Dark is a German science fiction thriller. In the aftermath of a child's disappearance, Dark follows characters from the fictional German town of Winden as they pursue the truth.

    The Awakening of Motti Wolkenbruch (2018) Pressured to marry a nice Orthodox Jewish woman, a young Orthodox Jew is thrown for a loop when he falls for someone who will not meet up to his mother's approval.

    A Perfect Crime (2020 TV-Mini Series) Netflix docuseries A Perfect Crime chronicles a story described as Germany’s version of the JFK assassination. In 1991, Detlev Karsten Rohwedder, the man given the unenviable task of deprivatizing state-run businesses in the former East Germany, was assassinated in his home in an affluent Düsseldorf neighborhood. The case was never solved, and this four-part examination will no doubt reopen speculation as to who committed the murder, and why.

  • Language-specific: Italian

    CONSIGLI PER MANTENERE IL TUO ITALIANO IN OTTIMA FORMA DURANTE LE VACANZE!

    Le vacanze, il lavoro, i viaggi... non si ha molto tempo per la scuola!
    Ma per conoscere bene una lingua, è importante continuare a fare pratica della quattro abilità fondamentali:

    • scrittura
    • lettura
    • ascolto
    • produzione orale (parlare)

    Come si può continuare a praticare la lingua in vacanza? Ecco delle risorse:

    Scrittura

    1. Scrivete in italiano il piu` possibile: tenete un diario, scrivete email in italiano, fate parte di un gruppo italiano online, eccetera.
      Se non vi siete ancora iscritti, andate sulla nostra pagina Facebook!!
      https://www.facebook.com/groups/WesItalian/
    2. Scrivete per il nostro magazine, WeScrive!
      https://wescrive.weebly.com/ 

    Lettura 

    Ci sono molte opzioni: prima di tutto, ecco i siti web dei maggiori giornali italiani:

    Per notizie generali:

    1. La Repubblica  http://www.repubblica.it/
    2. Il Corriere della Sera  http://www.corriere.it/index.shtml
    3. La Stampa  http://www.lastampa.it/
    4. Il Fatto Quotidiano  http://www.ilfattoquotidiano.it/#?refresh_ce

    Per articoli più profondi:

    1. L’internazionale  http://www.internazionale.it/
    2. The Vision https://thevision.com/

    Ascolto 

    Anche qui ci sono molte opzioni: ecco i siti delle maggiori tv italiane, pubbliche e private:

    1. tv pubblica: RAI (Rai 1, Rai 2, Rai 3)  http://www.rai.it/?refresh_ce
    2. tv privata: Mediaset (Rete 4, Canale 5, Italia 1)  http://www.mediaset.it/
    3. tv privata: La 7 http://www.la7.it/
    4. un canale tv di notizie 24 ore al giorno: SkyTG24 http://tg24.sky.it/tg24/
    5. un sito web che raccoglie molte radio italiane! Le stazioni radio più importanti sono: Radio 105, Radio 102.5, Radio DeeJay, Radio Latte e Miele, e poi Rai radio 1/2/3/4, che è simile a NPR.
      http://www.ascoltareradio.com/
    6. News in Slow Italian: un sito dove potete ascoltare molte notizie in italiano lento! https://tunein.com/radio/News-in-Slow-Italian-p761027/?topicId=99966387
    7. Alma Edizioni tv: il sito web di un editore (= publisher) di libri sulla lingua italiana – ha molti video sulla grammatica, sulle espressioni idiomatiche, ecc.
      http://www.almaedizioni.it/it/almatv/
    8. Netflix! Ci sono molti film italiani con i sottotitoli. Andate su “Browse” 🡪 International Movies 🡪 “Subgenres” 🡪 Italian movies

    Produzione orale

    Ci sono alcuni siti molto utili (e gratis), dove potete trovare persone con cui chiacchierare e fare pratica:
    1. HelloTalk – app - https://www.hellotalk.com/
    2. Speaky - https://www.speaky.com/

    Extra: per giocare e fare pratica!

    Ci sono molte apps che aiutano a imparare una lingua!
    Ecco alcuni esempi (tutti gratis!):
    1. Busuu (ripasso e giocare con la lingua – app e sul computer) https://www.busuu.com
    2. Duolingo (ripasso e giocare con la lingua - app e sul computer) https://www.duolingo.com/
    3. Memrise (giocare con la lingua - app e sul computer)  https://www.memrise.com/
    4. Italy360 – virtual tours in Italia! http://www.italy360.it/index.html
    5. Words with friends in italiano!

    Studio e ripasso

    Ci sono delle comunità online per praticare a scrivere o chiedere informazioni:

      1. Lang-8 – dove puoi scrivere un testo, e una comunità di native speakers lo corregge: https://lang-8.com/
      2. HiNative – dove puoi fare domande sulla lingua che stai imparando: https://hinative.com/
      3. WordReference – Language Forum – un vero e proprio forum in cui puoi fare domande sulla lingua, e la comunità risponde: https://forum.wordreference.com/#italian.26

    Ci sono anche molti corsi o pagine per ripassare o studiare l’italiano online:

    1. Get Up To Speed – un ottimo corso per ripassare l’italiano elementare!
      https://www.newsinslowitalian.com/italian-for-beginners
    2. Open Culture http://www.openculture.com/free_italian_lessons
    3. BBC Languages http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/italian/
    Ci sono anche molti MOOC (corsi online gratis) in italiano!
    1. I corsi di Wellesley:
      https://www.edx.org/course/italian-language-culture-beginner-wellesleyx-italian1x
      https://www.edx.org/course/italian-language-culture-intermediate-wellesleyx-italian2x
      https://www.edx.org/course/italian-language-culture-advanced-wellesleyx-italian3x
    2. Università di Siena:
      https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/learn-italian

    O anche MOOC o corsi online e gratis in lingua italiana (ma su altri argomenti):

    1. https://learn.eduopen.org/
    2. http://www.federica.eu/
    3. http://www.oilproject.org/
    4. http://ok.unive.it/ (i corsi online dell’Università di Venezia Ca` Foscari)
    5. https://www.pok.polimi.it/ (i corsi online del Politecnico di Milano – università)

    Additional Resources

    Visit this site for lists of Italian series and films on Netflix, Kanopy, and other platforms, as well as some scanned books for people to read and Instagram and Twitter profiles to follow. Join the WesItalian Facebook community and read the WeScrive Magazine.
  • Language-specific: Russian

    Elementary-Intermediate 

    Movies and videos

    1. Series «Кухня» - light, funny comedy about a restaurant; short parts (20-30 minutes each). First episode here. 
    2. Ералаш – series for children, very short, funny 5-10 minute parts (search on youtube) 
    3. Soviet cartoons with decent English subtitles 
    4. Cartoon «Маша и медведь» a very popular Russian cartoon; the characters to not speak too much, so it is easy to understand (search on Youtube) 
    5. Dubbed Russian songs 

    Activities

    1. Working through the free interactive online textbook for the first year called «Между нами» https://mezhdunami.org/

    Intermediate-Advanced

    Movies and videos

    1. Google 100 best Russian movies and search for those that look interesting on YouTube. Most Russian movies, unless they are extremely recent, are available there for free.
    2. Cartoon: «Смешарики» -  a cartoon for both children and adults. Each cartoon touches on a question/philosophical dilemma that can be used as a topic for discussion (search on youtube).

    Activities

    1. Work through the 50 questions that every person should ask oneself. Complete these tests and games together on the Meduza sitehttps://meduza.io/games and then discuss.

    Advanced

    1. Watch Russian documentaries and interviews with Юрий Дудь (available on youtube) 
    2. The most well-known and influential independent journalist site  Эхо Москвы (an independent media source in Russia): https://echo.msk.ru/. You can find news, interviews, and blogs on current issues.
    3. Tests and games on the site of Meduzahttps://meduza.io/gamesYou can complete them with your buddies and discuss.
  • Language-specific: Spanish
    Collection of Spanish resources from the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures 

    For Intermediate Spanish

    1. News in slow Spanish (https://www.newsinslowspanish.com/)

    For Intermediate-Advanced to Advanced Spanish

    1. El hilo (https://elhilo.audio): new episodes every Friday. This podcast is about current issues in Latin/x America.
    2. Radio ambulante (https://radioambulante.org/en): new episodes every Tuesday. Includes transcripts and has an application for Spanish language practice called Lupa.