Speak Dating, a seven-language conversation marathon, took place at TSU

Seventy participants got a chance to speak seven foreign languages at the recent Speak Dating conversation marathon. They talked about traditions, cultures, travel, holidays, unusual professions, and places worth visiting in Tomsk, with each conversation taking no longer than five minutes. Speak Dating gave its participants the opportunity to try out several languages in a single meeting and meet new people. The participants included undergraduate and postgraduate students and regular attendees of speaking clubs at the TSU Research Library, as well as library readers, University of Tomsk students, and Tomsk residents.

Participants tried speaking English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, and Russian. Before the event began, each participant put one or several stickers on their shirt, with each sticker representing a proficiency level in a certain language. During the event itself, each attendee had a five-minute time frame to make conversation with their partner, and then everyone would swap partners, topics, and languages.

The event was hosted by the International Resource Center, TSU Research Library, with the support of the TSU International Division. In their concept, an event like this can contribute to creating an inclusive multicultural campus without borders and prejudice.

The first Speak Dating marathon took place at TSU in December 2021. Only four languages were available: English, German, French, and Spanish.

“This time, we were able to increase the language variety by adding three new languages—Italian, Chinese, and Russian as a Foreign Language. We also extended the conversation time frame to let the attendees get comfortable with each other,” states the head of the International Resource Center, Elena Tsukanova. “Speak Dating is a place where people talk to each other with a limited time frame and a choice of topics, and then swap conversation partners; as opposed to the speaking club format, here people have a unique opportunity to try out several languages and meet a lot of new people. Speak Dating is a challenge, where every participant has to ask themselves: Can I switch between foreign languages on a dime while talking to multiple people on various topics?”

The event was moderated by Sebastjan Jemec, a postgraduate student in the Faculty of History and Political Studies. Born in Slovenia, he was fascinated with foreign languages since childhood. In addition to Slovenian, currently he is proficient in Russian, Chinese, German, and English; additionally, he is learning to understand Italian speech and read in Italian.