Sure, being bilingual might help your job prospects, but let’s be honest you really just want to learn a bit of the local dialect for that big Summer holiday you’ve just booked. Don’t worry, we get it. That’s why we’ve put together a list of the best places to learn a language in Melbourne…
The Alliance Française de Melbourne
After a few weeks with these guys, you’ll be ordering the escargots à la bourguignonne at Chez Olivier like a pro! The AFM is a not-for-profit association and the largest French language school in the state, so you’re in safe hands to learn the language of love. Not only do they run group courses, private lessons and workshops, they also organise outings to museums and restaurants, as well as cultural events like the French Film Festival and the French Christmas Market.
If classes don’t really tickle your fancy, French Meetup groups like Je Veux Parler Français and French Conversation and Fun meet regularly at cafes and restaurants around Melbourne to chat in French (or attempt to).
El Patio Spanish Language School
Your Lonely Planet guide will only get you so far in South America, so we’d definitely recommend booking yourself in for a course or two at El Patio. They run to terms here, so you might have to wait until the next term rolls over to secure your spot, but once you do, you’ll be able to haggle for your obligatory traveller bracelet like a boss. The teachers will even email you details when you miss a class—talk about service! And if you needed another incentive to sign up, we hear you could be in for some wine and tacos in class—all in the name of learning, of course.
The Spanish Cat
Hidden away at the top of Little Bourke Street, this language hub works out of Vamos, a small Latin American restaurant. We don’t know about the food, but the Spanish Cat is top notch. Most courses run for eight weeks in the evenings and if you’re in a hurry you can cram it all in over three intense Saturdays. There are also private classes if you’re particularly keen to get ahead.
Calling all movie buffs and Español-speaking wannabes! Learn Spanish from a steady supply of fresh Spanish and Portuguese films at The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) as part of Melbourne Filmoteca. They show everything from comedy and drama to documentaries and short films. You might come out sounding like a Mexican drug lord, but hey, you’ll know Spanish (sort of)!
Co.As.It Italian Language Classes
The classes at Co.As.It range from beginners to advanced, plus conversation groups to practice what you’ve learnt. They do have an Italian for Travellers course, but unlike some of the other language schools, this one runs for 10 weeks so make sure allow enough time to fit it all in! You’ll only briefly go over grammar, with the main focus being on situations you’re likely to run into as a tourist—so how to order 12 shots of Sambuca? And when you get really good, they even have an Italian Language Book Club!
Japanese Melbourne Language School
If you want fluency, head to this Japanese language school because they only speak Japanese during lessons. Before you run for the hills, take a breath! The class sizes are really small (up to 6 people), so the teacher can dedicate time to each student. They cater for beginners, intermediate, advanced, VCE prep, conversation and can even organise Japanese language courses and internships in Japan!
JAPANEASY Japanese Language School
Japaneasy does the group, private and semi-private class thing, but we’re signing up for everything else! If you want more of an informal vibe, they hold a language exchange every Wednesday night for Japanese learners and Japanese native-speakers to get together to chat and help each other improve. They also hold culture workshops, so you can make a Bonsai, join a Japanese choir, try out calligraphy or learn how to wear a Kimono properly.
If you’re already a Kimono-wearing expert, then join the Melbourne Japanese Social and Language Meetup Group. This crew holds regular language exchange events for both Aussies learning Japanese and Japanese people learning English.
Australasian Centre Of Chinese Studies
The team at ACCS make learning all the intricate characters seem like a cakewalk (well, maybe not a cakewalk, but you know what we mean). Located all around Melbourne, we’re sure you’ll find one close to home and we hear you can attend different classes around town if you’re schedule is crazy busy like ours!
Redcrane School of Chinese
Red Crane focuses on teaching ‘real life’ Chinese. All of their textbooks, audio lesson podcasts and courses will not only teach you the basics, but also 'day to day' Chinese, like how to bargain in a Chinese market, saying 'no MSG please' when ordering food and even swear words! They also offer Chinese Business Culture Workshops on a regular basis for companies like Lonely Planet, Cathay Pacific, ANZ Bank and Coles.
Or you could practice your Chinese away from the teachers and desks with The Melbourne Chinese Language & Culture Meetup Group. They hold Chinese-English language exchange and social meetups for like minded people just looking to improve their fluency.
The Goethe-Institut has been in Melbourne even before Olivia Newton-John got physical, so they definitely know their stuff. You’ll be individually assessed before you start your lessons, then you can choose from extensive, intensive and super intensive. Or you can just learn from their online courses without leaving the comfort of your own home. And if you feel so inclined, you can even sit exams.
Perhaps you’re looking for more of the conversation group vibe…
The Melbourne German Language Meetup Group meet once a month at a pub or restaurant to chat in German and sometimes they’ll even organise a movie night for good measure!
For those of you in the Eastern ‘burbs, check out the German Speaking Socialising Club.
This group is for anyone who can speak German and wants to practice their conversation skills over a coffee or a meal.
Feel like indulging in some French cuisine after learning the language of love? Here are Melbourne's best French restaurants. Or maybe you're in the mood for a Chinese banquet following an intensive lesson, here are Melbourne's best Chinese banquets.
Image Credit: Slice Of Pai