World Languages Lounge: Where Every Language is Welcome

banner for multilingual conversation night
Mar 16 2023

NYU Shanghai’s new World Languages Lounge brimmed with multilingual banter as the World Languages Program celebrated the lounge’s official opening at the new campus. Students, faculty, and staff members spent the evening communicating with each other in at least ten different languages, including French, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Russian, Indonesian, Armenian, and Shanghainese. 

The World Languages Program will host monthly themed Conversation Nights for speakers of Japanese, French, Spanish, Arabic, and Korean, with Chinese Conversation Night offered twice a month for different levels. Conversation nights  welcome language learners of all levels and native speakers to engage with each other in a comfortable and casual setting. 

side by side photo of language event posters and two female students practicing chinese

The language mixers provide NYU Shanghai community members with the opportunity to engage with each other in an informal setting. “[They] learn more about each other, and unlock the parts of themselves that emerge when the brain shifts into a different gear through the use of another language,” said Director of World Languages Melanie Hackney. "These events remind us that the languages we speak aren't simply toolkits that we take out when we need to communicate–they are so much more than that,” she said. “Languages shape how we think, how we experience space and time, how we understand others.”


nyu shanghai community members speaking Arabic

NYU Shanghai IT staff Roushdy Al-Shawwa (left) speaks Arabic with students Jarah Romero ’22 and Adib El Ounani ’23.


Arabic Lecturer Firas Alzain said he enjoyed being in such a diverse environment and appreciated the flexible format. While speaking with his students and colleagues, he switched between Arabic, Chinese, and English. “Students, staff, and faculty exchanged languages in perfect harmony, sometimes teaching, sometimes learning,” he said. “I will never forget a few sentences that one of my students gave to me to motivate my Chinese learning.” 

The lounge, which is designed with comfort in mind, allows for casual, no-stress communication between speakers of all levels. Floor cushions, painted stools, and an array of tables made for a relaxing setting for language learning to take place.

AJ Noble '26 said the evening was a great way to test out phrases and small conversations in Chinese, which he studies at NYU Shanghai, as well as some of the many other languages he studies for fun, including German, French, Arabic, and Russian—without the added pressure of being fluent. 

“What I really liked about the event was that it allowed me to meet some of the professors who speak different languages,” he said. “This is a great way for professors and students to form important connections while allowing students to try new things and practice their languages in a less formal, stress-free environment.” 

The World Languages Program will host weekly language nights throughout the semester. Other upcoming events include a Course Fair on March 28 for students planning their fall semester schedules, and a Book Awards ceremony on April 19 that will recognize outstanding student achievement in all language courses. 

The lounge space is primarily used by the World Languages Program and the Language & Linguistics club, but is also open for language-related events for the NYU Shanghai community.  To reserve the space, contact


Upcoming Conversation Nights at the World Languages Lounge (W629): 


Chinese (Elementary & Intermediate)
March 16, April 18

Chinese (All levels)
March 29, April 26

March 21, April 24

March 22, April 20

March 27, April 27

April 11

April 13

Information on these events and others can be found on Engage.