Satu Schumacher founded the Language Café after she moved to Berkeley from Finland in January of 2013. Since September that same year, the Language Café has been taking place every Tuesday evening at Café Blue Door, located on Bancroft Way. It consists of a series of meetings among different members of the community, including visiting scholars, university students from UC Berkeley and immigrants alike. The aim is to learn a new language and the teachers in charge are those who speak a language and are willing to teach it. The Language Café demands no formal certifications and the members attend each meeting expecting a relaxed atmosphere and a friendly mood.
How it Works
The meetings are divided in different tables, each with a sign signalling the language spoken by those sitting around it. The languages offered depend on the people who attend the meeting and they vary as time goes by and people come and go. Initially, the meetings were made up by Schumacher’s friends, but around 20 different people meet every Tuesday nowadays. Some of them are native English speakers while others are foreigners who have either moved to the United States or are there for a shorter period of time.
How it Began
Schumacher first moved to Berkeley with her husband when he became a visiting scholar at the International Computer Science Institute. After a couple of months, she decided she needed to try something new and introduced this type of language meetings in Berkeley based on those which she had witnessed during a visit back to Finland.
She had to pick the bar herself, and decided on Café Blue Door because of the welcoming staff. The owner, Monjid Aldiyyat, recognised himself as a language nerd himself and voiced his support towards the project. As a consequence of it, he helps the Language Café by reserving tables for its members and even advertising the meetings by means of signs.
Schumacher has now returned to Finland after leaving one of the other members of the Language Café in charge of the Facebook page through which the meetings are organised, but the Language Café is as lively as ever.