Café Lingo, Douglas, Isle of Man, is a meeting place with a difference. Held at the Promenade Methodist church every Saturday morning as an English language cafe, it is free, child-friendly and open to everyone. It is also entirely run by willing volunteers.
The seeds of the project were sown at a joint churches meeting where deep concern was voiced for foreign newcomers to the island, namely lack of English, the affordability of lessons and social isolation.
Just six months after this initial meeting, Café Lingo was up and running. Its aim: to welcome newcomers of any nationality, ability, faith or no faith and teach them English in a relaxed, friendly way over a cup of tea or coffee. The cafe is led by retired deputy headteacher Karen Norton and a team of very willing and able volunteers from a variety of backgrounds.
Café Lingo now
To date Café Lingo has welcomed 56 students of varying ability through its doors, with 15-26 on average each week, coming from 16 different countries. Karen reports these very positive signs of success:
- it is very interactive, with a real buzz
- students come back again and again
- even timid students relax by their second or third week
- advanced students like to ‘brush up’and enjoy socialising and building friendships while learning English
- there is a warm atmosphere and lots of laughter
How English is taught
Students learn through games, mimes and discussions. Each session is based on a theme such as jobs or going to the doctors and even art, as well as learning useful expressions and basic grammar. Each volunteer supports between one and four students.
The Café Lingo ethos
Although Café Lingo is a spirit-led church outreach project, it does not seek to convert, but to share God’s love by supporting people. The ethos is one of inclusion in order to help integration into the Manx community. It has established positive links with a wide range of religious and community groups, both Christian and non-Christian. Speaking about Café Lingo, Karen says:
‘I am extremely grateful to all involved. Promenade Methodist Church has been particularly instrumental in providing premises, refreshments and funding. They also sponsored my TEFL training via Christian TEFL, which was thorough, interesting and empowering. From the start Café Lingo has been an amazing team effort to welcome the stranger.’
For more information on Café Lingo, contact Karen through their Cafe Lingo Facebook page.