Language Tables Frequently Asked Questions

General

What are language tables?

Language tables provide a low-stakes environment to converse in a particular language at tables mentored by Language Residents and other native or advanced speakers. Though tables have varied in format throughout the pandemic, they typically take place in the Oldenborg dining hall over lunch.

Why is there a No-English policy at languages tables?

The No-English policy allows Oldenborg to create an immersive language learning environment, which is integral for advancing language skills and offers the best preparation for times when one might need to use the language in a real-life situation (i.e. study abroad).

Given our day to day lives take place primarily in English, immersion in a language you are looking to improve can be an invaluable gift.

Language tables sound intimidating. What if I make a mistake or don’t understand what people are saying?

Making mistakes is an important part of learning a language. We welcome mistakes at Oldenborg! Everyone at tables is learning to some degree and we foster being supportive of one another in this process.

Join us!

But what if I’m a beginner?

As a beginner you may start out doing more listening than speaking, and that’s OK. You might be surprised how much you’ll improve if you participate regularly. Before you know it, you’ll soon be having conversations.

Beginner days are available for Chinese, Japanese, German, Russian, Spanish, and French every Thursday. We have extra support on these days for those language learners who are just getting started.

Can I learn a new language from zero only by attending tables?

For complete beginners language tables are a great supplement to formal language instruction.

Is Oldenborg like the other dining halls?

Oldenborg is different than the other dining halls in that it is a co-curricular space for our community to participate in language learning or globally themed events hosted by Oldenborg.

Spring 2022

What do language tables look like for the spring semester?

We are bringing back lunch for the spring 2022 semester with outdoor seating, starting on February 7th. Language tables will occur in one-hour blocks between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

All students, faculty, and staff must enter through the dining hall and then proceed to find their language table outside (Oldenborg parking lot).

At Oldenborg, we use the “double swipe”. The first swipe is for your meal and the second one is for language table credit.

Where can I find the language table schedule?

To access the online schedule, please visit the Oldenborg Language Table Sakai Calendar. To access the in-person schedule, starting February 7th, visit the Oldenborg website.

When is beginner day?

We have extra support for those language learners who are just getting started. Beginner days are available for Chinese, Japanese, German, Russian, Spanish, and French every Thursday.

Oldenborg doesn’t usually allow green boxes. Why are they allowed this semester?

To reduce waste, green boxes will be available for everyone at the front desk. Use the green box to get your food and then take it outdoors. Everyone must swipe for a meal and participate in language tables.

What protocols are in place to mitigate risks associate with COVID-19?

We have a staggered schedule from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to de-densify the dining area. Please check the schedule to know the times for a specific language. We are currently opening with outdoor dining only.

Do I need to wear a mask?

Yes, please wear a mask whenever you are not actively eating or drinking. This includes while getting your food and walking to your table.

For Students

Can 5C students attend Oldenborg language tables?

We are excited to be able to welcome all 5C students back to language tables! Beginning Monday, March 21, 5C students may attend language tables regardless of whether they are enrolled in a Pomona language class.
 

Will I need to pay for a meal when I come to tables?

Yes, all students must double swipe at the front desk.

How will my professor know how many tables I’ve attended?

Pomona professors can check language table attendance for their classes in the portal.

For non-Pomona language classes, please ask your professors how they will track attendance. Many professors give out a handout that requires signatures or stamps. Oldenborg staff can provide stamps at the check-in desk (for Pomona students only until cross-campus dining resumes).

If you live in Oldenborg, please email oldenborg@pomona.edu to know your attendance.

Do I need to stay for the whole hour to get credit for attending the tables?

No, but we do ask that you stay for at least 15 minutes. Language learning requires practice, time, and dedication.

Please keep in mind that we only mark attendance once per day regardless of the number of languages you participate in. If you have a language table requirement, make sure to organize your visits throughout the semester.

Faculty/Staff

Can faculty and staff participate in language tables?

Oldenborg encourages faculty and staff to participate in language tables! Whether it’s for improving your own language skills or offering expertise in a language you are fluent in, we hope that you join us.

Remember that first and foremost the program aims to serve students who are learning or practicing a language. Please keep this in mind as you engage with others at the tables.

Lastly, we ask that all attendees be respectful of Oldenborg’s no-English policy at language tables. This key feature of the program allows us to maintain an immersive language learning environment, which is integral for advancing language skills and offers the best preparation for times when one might need to use the language in a real-life situation (i.e. study abroad).

Do faculty and staff need to pay for a meal when attending language tables?

Oldenborg welcomes faculty and staff’s active participation at language tables and is pleased to cover the cost of their lunch meal.

Faculty and/or staff who have meal swipes available are welcomed to utilize this at Oldenborg.

Community Members

Can local community members attend language tables?

At this time, given COVID-related protocols in place at the college, only a limited number of community members who actively support our language table program will be invited on a case-by-case basis.

Community members are being asked to provide proof of vaccination and complete the daily health check in order to participate.