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Question 1 of 1
You are going to read a news article about an organisation that helps people learn languages. For each question 31 – 36, choose the correct answer.
The origins of Durham's biggest language exchange
In the modern world, foreign languages are more important than ever. Even speaking just one other language opens up a whole new realm of career possibilities, to say nothing of knowing two or three. Foreign languages improve your confidence, can help you to make friends, and make it easier to travel. As if that weren't enough, a body of recent scientific research argues that there are even medical advantages to foreign language study. Improved memory and focus are just a couple of the perks you can enjoy as a result of this pursuit.
Despite these benefits, one pressing concern remains. Foreign language acquisition can be one of the most arduous journeys a person might embark on; especially if total mastery is the end goal. It's no wonder that learners become discouraged and, not infrequently, give up completely. What is the best way to improve your language skills? Is it possible to promote language learning in a fun and easy manner? Five years ago, Sunita Mishra pondered these questions. After giving the matter some thought, she had the idea to found a language exchange.
A language exchange is a gathering where people get together with the goal of practising languages. These groups tend to attract young people and international students, although older participants and locals often attend too. There are many different types of language exchanges. Some are tightly structured: an organiser may, for example, ring a bell when it is time to change from one language to another. Others are more informal, and participants can move about freely and join different conversations.
Durham, where Mishra grew up, is famous for its university. Most students who attend the school are British. However, there are also several thousand international students in the city, hailing from more than 150 countries. Mishra envisioned meetings that would cater to this group. "The setting provides a unique opportunity," Mishra explains. "I felt sure that if I planned interesting events where people could meet and talk, that there would be demand." This instinct proved correct. Mishra's organisation, called "Let's Talk", has succeeded.
Mishra's first-ever exchange was held in a pizzeria. She thought that the red chequered tablecloths and soft lighting would create a good atmosphere. And it goes without saying that everyone loves pizza. To publicise the event, Mishra hung fliers around the city. She also bought a set of small flags that people could carry around, so that it would be clear which languages they spoke. To her complete astonishment, more than thirty people showed up. "We didn't have enough chairs!" Mishra recalls. European languages such as Italian, Portuguese and Greek were spoken, as well as Japanese.
Since then, Mishra has built up a strong membership base. "Let's Talk" has more than four hundred active members and is continuing to grow. The group now stages meetings five nights a week in a variety of venues around Durham. Some events are relaxed, whereas others have a festive atmosphere and include quizzes or games. One very popular gathering is the monthly banquet, where people share traditional dishes from their countries. Mishra estimates that up to thirty languages are spoken at her busiest meetings. She herself speaks four languages fluently, and has set her sights on learning a fifth.
"Let's Talk" recently launched a new project, a hiking club. Once a month, Mishra charters a coach and arranges a day trip to a different spot in Durham's scenic countryside. As always, the emphasis is on language learning. Mishra has other ideas in the pipeline, too. Film nights, museum outings and an overnight trip to London are a just a few. "You need languages for everything," Mishra points out. "That means there are an infinite number of ways for people to practise." If you are interested in taking part in an event hosted by "Let's Talk", check out their webpage or Facebook group. And if you haven't got a friend to come with, don't worry. There's no better way to meet people, no matter what language you speak.
31. What is the meaning of "pursuit" in paragraph 1?
32. According to paragraph 2, what challenge are language learners faced with?
33. Why did Mishra decide to set up "Let's Talk"?
34. Which sentence best describes the initial gathering that Mishra organised?
35. What does paragraph 7 suggest about the future of "Let's Talk"?
36. Which option is NOT included as an example of an activity carried out by "Let's Talk"?