I am French with Spanish ancestry so I was raised in a bilingual household and I believe this facilitated my learning other languages. I love traveling and have lived all over the world for much of my adult life, so being able to pick up the basics fast was key adjusting to the new place. So I have in head bits of lots of languages roaming around. Aside from being fluent in English, French and Spanish, I can also converse in Portuguese and Italien, and I have bits Japanese, Chinese, Thai, and Arabic that come back to me at the oddest of times. I am presently taking Arabic classes to brush up on my Arabic. I love it!
I had been living in Archway for several years and had been struggling with my social life, having to go across London to find social activities. Speak Street was key to giving me the confidence that we could have a “community” in Archway. I think it is important when you are building a social circle that the people you spend time with live nearby, otherwise it is hard to build social links.
I think people learn faster when they are having fun. French Speak Street sessions for example, are structured to have a social element, and room for interaction with volunteer native speakers. There is a great gain for them, and I think native speakers get to share of what they know. This can be greatly rewarding for the volunteers as well as give them cultural and teaching experience. The added advantage is that it is local, by locals for locals, and that is key to building community around the event.