International students are volunteering their time for monthly Language Exchange nights at the College of the Rockies cafeteria. Events will be hosted on the second Thursday of every month

International students are volunteering their time for monthly Language Exchange nights at the College of the Rockies cafeteria. Events will be hosted on the second Thursday of every month

Breaking through the language barrier

COTR international students volunteering time to share language and culture and practice English with Cranbrook locals.

If you’ve ever been looking to immerse yourself in another language or culture without leaving Cranbrook, it can be tough to find that diversity locally.

However, with the popularity of the College of the Rockies as a post-secondary institution for international students, staff is organizing a monthly meet up where students can interact with Cranbrook locals to work on their own language skills and pass on knowledge of their native tongues and culture to others.

“It’s really great, because it’s really hard to go to another country without any experience in another language, there’s that sort of shock you get when you hear a native speaker ask you a question,” said Cindy Leibel, who is organizing the effort. “So this really helps people prepare for travelling abroad.

“Otherwise it’s just really great to get exposure to other cultures. The students are really enthusiastic talking about their cultures, so if anyone has any questions, they’d love to talk about it.”

The plan is to have events on the second Thursday of every month at the College of the Rockies in the cafeteria. The first one is booked for Feb. 11 from 5-7 p.m.

There is no formal agenda for the evenings, and it’s on a drop-in, drop-out basis, with no need for registration.

“The emphasis is just on speaking and it’s really up to what the teacher and the learner want to do, but I have some students planning out little lesson plans while other students just expect people to walk up and ask for help,” Leibel said.

“We’re going to have more or less, language booths or language stations so people will be sorted by language.”

As far as what languages will be showcased and present, there are some of the usual international dialects such as French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, Punjabi and Portuguese.

Others are far more rare.

“We’ve got someone who’s volunteered to teach Ktunaxa and Blackfoot as well,” Leibel said. “Thirty different students are involved so far and we’ve got a wide range of languages they’re willing to offer.”

For more information on the event, check out their website at:


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