Make yourself heard at this sociable foreign-language club

By - Tuesday 1st May, 2018

Welcome, bienvenue, bienvenido, benvenuto, willkommen to the Croydon Social Language Club!

Photo public domain.

Most of us Brits are monoglots – we can only speak our own language, which is English. Unless we have parents born overseas who have shared their native language with us, or we’ve taken the trouble or had the opportunity to learn other languages, we lack the ability to converse with those from other countries. Even though the world may speak English, this does not mean that we’re always at an advantage when dealing or negotiating with others. Some small ability to understand or respond in different languages will always improve relations – especially given the likely outcome of the Brexit negotiations.

The Croydon Social Language Club is almost fifty years old. Founded by like-minded people in the Croydon area in 1970 with a constitution and elected officers, it has gone from strength to strength. From small beginnings, meetings were initially held in people’s homes and eventually for many years at The Blacksmith’s Arms at the junction of Coombe Road and South End, and subsequently at the Swan & Sugar Loaf pub. Since 2008, the club has met at the South Croydon Sports Club at the end of Beech Copse, off Birdhurst Rise (CR2 7ES).

The club is for those who want to practise their language skills in a sociable ambience

The club is for people who enjoy speaking a foreign language. If you know another language, it is very easy to forget it if you don’t have the chance to practise it. Some basic knowledge of the language is required for people to participate, but the emphasis is on conversation in a sociable ambience to dispel the mystique and embarrassment that some may feel in trying to improve their speaking skills.

All are welcome. Members come from all walks of life and various parts of Europe and South America. Some have been teachers or students. Others have worked abroad or are about to, and several are native speakers of other languages resident in the UK. There are separate tables for French and Spanish, and for German and Italian if demand is sufficient. Other languages could be added (again, if demand is sufficient and if practicable). We encourage those who want to improve their English to attend, too. Each table has experienced native speakers who act as animators of conversation. There are talks by members in different languages and social outings to restaurants and cinemas (to see films not in the English language), and also annual visits to continental Europe, a summer BBQ and a Christmas party. The membership subscription is only £5 per year, and attendance is £3 per evening (every Monday, 8pm–10pm, except bank holidays). We hope to see you there soon!

Please contact either David Urry on 020 8680 5887 or or Thérèse Herbert on  for more information, or if you’d like to join the club.

Barnaby Powell

I'm a former development banker (in Europe and East and South-East Asia) and a Croydon resident for over 25 years. Currently I write and speak (mainly to schools and universities) on China and the impact of its rise on the rest of us. I'm also a school governor at Archbishop Tenison's School and a leader of the Croydon U3A China Group.

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