The first day I came to CLLC, I saw students from different countries chatting and laughing together everywhere.  I found this cultural intermingling of students fascinating.

Why?

In my experience, even though we encourage students to mix, they sometimes ‘default’ and seek out classmates who speak the same language (or a similar dialect) and who grew up in a similar culture. While it is human nature to ‘stay in your comfort zone’ and  stick with what you know, it is not necessarily the best way to make friends or learn English.

I really wondered why students seem to mingle more successfully here. Why are students so open and friendly?  Is it the ‘English only’ rule? Yes, it seems it is. When people cannot speak their mother tongue, they must find a common language so they can communicate. So, students learn English much faster. Also, speaking in English automatically gives students something in common and creates a bond.

Is it because teachers encourage students to work with classmates from other cultures? Definitely. Students feel safe speaking in the classroom and become braver to socialize after class. Is it the fun and activities and field trips that create friendships and bring students from other countries together? Absolutely. The more students learn about each other, the more they understand each other and get along peacefully. So, even though this new way of learning may push you out of your comfort zone, the rewards of more English and more friends are worth it.

Denise Delong