TWU's Department of English and Modern Languages Opens Language Café

By: Dr. Elizabeth Ruleman


Drs. Ana Barrios and Augustin Bocco

Tennessee Wesleyan’s Department of English and Modern Languages held an open house for its new Language Café on Tuesday, October 26, on the fourth floor of Banfield-Durham Hall. Decorated with colorful maps, art, and quotations, the space is an inviting one for coffee, tea, and conversation.

Drs. Ana Barrios and Augustin Bocco, professors of Spanish and French, have long dreamed of having such a space. Students learn in their classrooms, but this is a place conducive to informal conversation as well as reading and discussion.

An international student, Maria Alejandra, spends a few hours a week speaking Spanish and French with the department’s language learners.


“Quiero ayudarles a las personas con los idiomas ya que es algo muy importante en el mundo laboral y además es muy divertido conocer las culturas de otros países,” Alejandra says of her work. (“I want to help people with learning languages because it is so important in the labor market, and, besides, it is fun to know the culture of other countries.”)


Students workingThe professors take small classes there as well. For example, Dr. Barrios reads short stories in Spanish with students in the Spanish minor. In addition, every week, Dr. Bocco’s French 201 class is reading aloud from a French translation of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.


“The Language Café is the embassy of our language Department,” says Dr. Bocco, “the place where language lovers meet to savor the cake of regular classroom celebrations of language teaching and learning!”


The Language Café allows language learners to apply what they are learning in class to real-life conversations with native speakers; with every conversation, the students take one small step closer to fluency.
Of course, this is just the beginning. Dr. Barrios hopes to see this space develop “into a safe and joyful room for anyone interested in learning a language. I want to walk by and hear conversation and laughter, reading and sharing the miracle of looking at the world from a new window.” Students working


Dr. Elizabeth Ruleman, Study Abroad Coordinator, is also excited about this new space.


“I see this as very helpful for the Study Abroad Program at Tennessee Wesleyan. Short periods of immersion in the languages will definitely give the students the confidence to undertake a short-term program in another country; it may even help them to envision themselves spending a month, a semester, or even a year abroad.”


The campus is always invited to stop by to see this exciting new development in the Department of English and Modern Languages.


Photos by Christen Webb