Language Tables Frequently Asked Questions


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 Wednesday. 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.

Is a meal purchase required to participate in the language tables program?

Yes. Because our program takes place in a dining hall during lunch time, a meal purchase is required for entry and participation.

Students must swipe twice at the front desk. The first swipe is for their meal and the second is for language tables credit.

Please see section below for faculty and staff.

Spring 2023

What do language tables look like for the spring semester?

We will continue with our lunch programming for the spring 2023 semester with indoor seating, starting on Monday, January 23rd. All Language tables will occur between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m in the Oldenborg dining hall.

All students, faculty, and staff must enter through the dining hall main door and then proceed to find their language table signaled with the appropriate flags.

Where can I find the language table schedule?

To access the in-person schedule, starting January 23rd, 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 Wednesday.

Can I bring my green box to Oldenborg?

Now that the program is back indoors, Oldenborg is resuming use of regular china dishware. As was the practice before the pandemic, no green boxes will be allowed in the dining hall.

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

Hand washing stations as well as hand sanitizer will be available at the entrance of the dining hall. A few pre-packaged to-go food items will be available for those who wish to remain masked while they participate in language tables.

Do I need to wear a mask?

Mask wearing is strongly recommended when entering the dining hall and while getting your food but it is not required.

For Students

Can 5C students attend Oldenborg language tables?

Language tables are open to all 5C students.

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

Yes, all students must "double swipe". The first swipe is for your meal and the second one is for language table credit.

What if I don't have a meal plan?

For 5C students who do not have a meal plan at all and are enrolled in a Pomona language class, Oldenborg is able to support the cost of their lunch up to two times per week when attending language tables.

Students in this circumstance should email prior to their first visit to have their enrollment and meal plan status verified. We will then provide them with further instructions.

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.

If you live in Oldenborg, please email 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.


Can faculty and staff participate in language tables?

Oldenborg encourages 7C 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?

Community members interested in participating in the language tables program should reach out to first.

Policies and procedures continue to evolve in line with public health circumstances and college policies related to COVID-19. Admission is at Oldenborg’s discretion and there is a $9.50 charge per visit.

Please note all community members will be asked to provide proof of vaccination and complete the daily health check in order to participate.