Looking for a chance to practise speaking Japanese or English? Want to meet new people? Try these Meetups on for size…
You can read as many grammar books and watch as many Japanese TV dramas as you like, but nothing is going to improve your Japanese as much as going out and talking to Japanese people. Likewise, you may understand every word in an English-language movie, but it’s only through conversation practice with a speaker of native-level fluency that you’ll increase your spoken English ability. However, finding the time (and, sometimes, the motivation) for this can be tricky!
What if there were regular, organised events you could attend, open to anyone, where you could converse in both Japanese and English with friendly, like-minded people?
If this sounds like your kind of thing, there’s a site you should take a look at: meetup.com. This worldwide network of regional groups allows you to see what’s going on in your local area and find people who share your interests. It’s also very simple to use the site to organise your own Meetup group and arrange events. Meetup events of all different kinds take place every day throughout Japan and the Kansai area, and there are several that focus on Japanese and English language exchange.
Life in Kansai caught up with the organisers of three Kansai-based conversation exchange Meetup groups to find out more…
Image: Kobe English and Japanese Conversation Circle
Kobe English and Japanese Conversation Circle
Events: Regular conversation exchange on Mondays at 7.30pm, Tully’s Coffee, 1 Chome-3-1 Kitanagasadori, Chuo-ku, Kobe.
Organiser: David Miso, from Australia.
Aim: To give learners of English and Japanese the opportunity to practise their language of choice, make new friends and hopefully learn something.
When was the group founded and how has it developed since? I founded the group in about May 2014. Since then, regular attendance has increased significantly. There were days last year when we would have only 10 members come on any given day, but now every week we have around 30 people.
Why do you think people attend your Meetups regularly? I think it’s because the group is a weekly occurrence in a public space. It feels more like a big group of friends catching up for a coffee than a formal language exchange.
As the organiser, what is the best part of being involved in this Meetup group? The most rewarding part has been watching it grow. Every week we have a mixture of regular members and first-timers. Some of our regulars have been coming since the group was founded, too.
Message to new members: This Meetup group is a great way to unwind after work and start a new week. It’s hosted in a relaxed environment and there are plenty of new people to meet every week.
Image: Kyoto Language Lovers
Kyoto Language Lovers
Events: Regular conversation exchange events held on Sundays, 6.30pm–8.30pm, Pig & Whistle, 115 Ohashi-cho, Ohashi, Higashi-iru, Sanjo-dori, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto. Organisers: Patrick, from Australia; Manon, from the Netherlands; Yuki and Ai, from Japan. Aim: To create an opportunity where Japanese people and expatriates living in Japan can meet and socialise.
When was the group founded and how has it developed since? The group was founded in January 2015. In half a year, we managed to gather more than 500 members through our regular language exchange events!
Why do you think people attend your Meetups regularly? We strive to create an environment where people can mingle regardless of nationality, so we think that’s definitely the biggest reason. Also, we try to keep the atmosphere at our events on the casual side, so it really just feels like catching up with some old mates over a few drinks!
As the organisers, what is the best part of being involved in this Meetup group? It’s the people you meet for sure! I myself (Patrick) have made some long-lasting friendships with people I met.
Message to new members: If you’re hesitant, don’t be! Just come, you never know who you’ll meet!
Osaka International Friends Meetup
Events: Several events per month held in Osaka; check homepage for details. Organisers: Jun and Harumi, from Japan; Livia, from Italy. Aim: To provide the best possible opportunity to meet new people and create a big group of international friends.
When was the group founded and how has it developed since? The group was founded in August 2014. The group started off by holding international parties once a month, then, later, sports events (futsal games) and language exchange at weekends. Now it has a huge number of members.
Why do you think people attend your Meetups regularly? Every time you join an event, you meet lots of new people. All the regular members and organisers are friendly and always willing to take care of new members.
As the organisers, what is the best part of being involved in this Meetup group? Meeting lots of interesting people from different countries, appreciation from members who find our group fun and enjoyable, and making our members happy and willing to come back for the next event.
Message to new members: Our group has a happy, friendly atmosphere so you will surely love being a member of this group.
Image: Osaka International Friends Meetup
By Life in Kansai