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Amidst the bustling crowds at Commons and McEwen dining halls, language faculty and students sit around a table to enjoy a meal while conversing in their chosen studied language. Hamilton’s “language tables,” as they are known, provide both valuable speaking experience and community building opportunities.

Led by international teaching fellows and Hamilton’s language professors, each language department organizes an optional, weekly meeting for students interested in that language to practice their speaking skills. The tables span class years and expertise levels; even native speakers attend. 

Eric Moss ’23, a world politics and German studies double-concentrator, attends the German language table every Tuesday and appreciates getting to know fellow German students on a more personal level. “The language lunch table offers a uniquely wonderful opportunity to gather together once a week and really feel the community that builds around being a language major,” Moss said. 

Students chat over lunch at the Spanish language table.
Students chat over lunch at the Spanish language table.

Since the language tables welcome all students, Moss builds connections with a variety of students who all share his passion for German. “It’s always nice to know that the opportunity exists for every student in and out of the department to gather at all levels of learning and be brought together by a language we all appreciate,” he said.

Omar Barghou ’26 is a regular at the lunchtime Arabic language table on Fridays as it grants him an opportunity to connect with both his peers and culture. “I’m from Egypt originally, and we speak a lot of Arabic in my household. I feel like the opportunity to connect with people and speak in Arabic gives me a little trace of home here at Hamilton,” Barghout said. “Having this opportunity to … feel integrated into the culture of Hamilton as well as connect to my own culture has very much improved my Hamilton experience.”

Connections are not just created between students, however. Associate Professor of Arabic Mireille Koukjian finds the language tables offer her a chance to spend time with former students. “At the Arabic language table I get to see students that I don’t teach anymore. Students who are taking Arabic classes with other professors will come to the table,” she said.

The language lunch table offers a uniquely wonderful opportunity to gather together once a week and really feel the community that builds around being a language major.

Similarly, Teaching Fellow in French and Francophone Studies Josephine Orio enjoys her conversations with students. “I like that we get to meet very different people with varying levels of French. The conversations are always different and we get to talk about our weeks, so it’s kind of a nice break during the day,” Orio said. 

Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies Jack Martínez Arias finds the language tables offer students the opportunity to experience the world while in Clinton. “At the language table, students have the exposure of not just speaking with people who are learning Spanish, but also students who are native speakers. We have people come to the table from Spain, Puerto Rico, Peru, Colombia, Argentina.”

Expand Your Perspectives

Learning takes place when students encounter new ideas, are exposed to new experiences and opportunities, and interact with people who have different perspectives. And learning and speaking a new language is a great way to do that.

Interacting with such a diverse group of students allows language learners to deeply engage with their language’s culture. “If you want to learn about different languages and cultures you have to open your mind to different realities and ways of thinking. When you really understand the language you can do that and it is a really rich experience in my view,” Arias added. “I think that is why learning any of the languages offered here at Hamilton makes the language students feel more connected to the rest of the world and our community.”

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