Language Exchange is an event that promotes interaction and acts as a timely reminder of how Salford became such a great city. It's a relaxed affair with locals and visitors welcome, and is pleasing to be in such welcoming company and witness Salford opening its arms to newcomers.
Attendees are from far and wide and represent various community groups. Florian from Paris informs that "The group started as a Facebook group, and grew". He has been coming along to The Salford Arms for eighteen months and likes to welcome new faces.
I take a seat at a table and the group are genuinely interested in my presence; Yolanda is from Spain and working in hospitality, while Jeanne is a much travelled Ivorian now settled in Salford. Erdem is from Turkey and is a student, and Antonio is another member of our Spanish community and works in a warehouse.
It seems that Spain's loss has been our gain as Joaquin and Raquel join us for a drink. Raquel can't stay late, though; her shift starts at 4am, "I'm like Cinderella" she smiles.
The Salford Arms Hotel is starting to fill up and more and more nationalities arrive. We now have punters from Portugal, Greece, and Italy. Even South America is represented with Christian from Chile and Gabriella from Venezuela. Occupations range from restaurant staff to admin and deliveries.
Pedro works at the university and is due to travel to Barcelona where he will qualify as a lecturer. The majority are conversing in English and improving their language skills. Ahmed is a barber in Rusholme and specialises in traditional shaves. He is originally from Iraq and tells me, "Most people where I work speak in Arabic. So, I came here to improve my English".
He jokes that at first he thought it might be easier to pick up Spanish, but soon got talking in English... "I've made some good friends here, and become friendly with some locals by playing pool", he explains.
Soon, complimentary pizza and chips are handed out and we all dig in. I have a conversation with Maciek; he's an accountant from Poland and speaks fluent English. He's been attending Language Exchange for a while and has a good group of mates from it. He suggests that I talk to a Japanese girl called Yumi. Like Maciek, Yumi is a stalwart of Language Exchange.
She seems to be very popular member of the group, but I manage to get her attention. She tells me that she is a graphic designer and although work is in London, she submits her designs online and "prefers to live in Salford". One of the main reasons Yumi has stayed around is the people Yumi has encountered whilst living in Salford, including her boyfriend Michael. She informs that Michael is from Poland and she met him at Language Exchange...
Language Exchange is a great evening bustling with a variety of languages and nationalities. It's an opportunity to meet new people and learn about other countries and cultures. Alternatively, you can come along and join great an event vibrant with a top atmosphere, some great drinks offers and complimentary bar snacks.
The Salford Arms Hotel
146 Chapel Street M3 6AF
0161 288 8883
Every Wednesday from 8pm free
For further detail see The Salford Arms on Facebook
Words by Ian Leslie