This is a short editorial piece I wrote, which can be found on their website here.
In this day and age of the Internet, finding individuals who you share common interests with is as easy as doing a simple Google search. It does not, however, take away the uncertainties of finding yourself face-to-face with an individual or a room full of complete strangers. To some that is a concern they would hope to not have to face. But that is what I did when I decided to find someone with whom I could practice my fleeting Spanish. True, I am and was raised in a Spanish speaking country, but after more than 16 years expatriating without as much as uttering a seldom sentence, I found Darwin’s maxim: “If you don’t use it you loose it,” ringing more true everyday.
Sure, rumours abound of Internet horror stories – and we all heard of a few – and some did cross my mind, but I decided to give it a try anyway. You reap what you sow is how the saying goes. So eventually my google searching lead me to a downtown bar on Prince Arthur Street on a Monday night: The Bedford Academy to be exact.
Walked in, not knowing where to go, but after asking the friendly bartender, I was directed to go to “round table near the front window” of the bar. This seemed to be the groups ‘signature table.’ Since then the actual table now changes from time to time as it seems that as more people find out about the group, the meetings get ushered to the bigger tables at the back. Which is far from being a bad thing.
It was then when I met ”Mafalda” the organizer and the rest of the gang. Her real name is Liane, but nicknamed after Quino’s famous Argentinean comic strip character of the same name. Known for her strong opinions yet never loosing the innocence that normally comes while acquiring them. Also having a slight physical resemblance does not hurt to further the point.
Eventually you will get to meet Darwin and Joel, the two founding members of the ‘Spanish Group Matadores,’ both quite willing to tell the history behind the group which goes back to December 2003. However, I will let them tell you the story.
The meetings are amazing. The rules of the club, aside the cordialities of civilized society are pretty much open. One is free to pick a topic, and if one happens to be shy about starting a conversation, not to worry someone is bound to make feel at en su casa soon enough. The welcoming disposition hangs in the air creating a friendly English free zone, where Spanish is the only language spoken. In minutes you are part of the group and totally up to you to join in the conversations or simply watch and listen them go by like real-time collages, but without the subtitles.
It is hard to believe learning a different language would be so easy as attending bi-weekly meetings and having a drink or two. Sure one can take classes, and in no way I would dare negate their benefits. Yet there is something to be said about hearing a language being spoken natively without taking notes and the overbearing anxiety of upcoming tests.
Besides, once you come to a few nights, you will quickly discover that you are not only learning a new language you might find yourself also building new friendships. I don’t know about you, but that worth more than the price of admission. Did I mention the admission is free?
You can be part of this great group by clicking in the following link: http://speak-spanish-club.mexican.ca/index.htm