What's the best way to learn a new language? Practicing with native speakers, many will say, and since 2007, Worthington Libraries has been helping the community do just that.

In January of that year, Northwest Library, 2280 Hard Road, started hosting weekly English Conversation classes for those who wanted to practice and improve their English.

Since then, over 2,000 attendees, representing more than 15 different countries, have attended. Students have come from Iran, Mexico, Egypt, India, Japan, South Korea, China, Columbia, Montenegro, Germany, Brazil and Puerto Rico, to name just a few.

Every Tuesday at 3:30 pm, library staff and volunteers engage students in small group conversation (no more than six students per instructor) about topics relevant to helping them adjust to life in the U.S.

Topics have included U.S. elections, education and schools, holidays, travel, health and family. Conversations that encourage students to talk about their home country are very popular. Students often bring in photographs and other items to help illustrate special attributes.

Field trips are also part of the English Conversation Group (ECG) experience, and during class potlucks those attending have shared traditional American holiday dishes like turkey, apple pie and even peanut butter sandwiches (a surprise hit!). Students also bring in their favorite traditional dishes, creating a smorgasbord of treats that spark relaxed conversation and recipe sharing.

The ECG winter quarter starts this Tuesday (Jan. 4) and continues through Feb. 22. Upcoming topics include discussions about art, music (including student favorites) and Valentine's Day. The spring session will begin March 8.

Any adult with basic English skills who'd like to work on their conversational abilities and English pronunciation with the help of a native speaker is welcome to attend. There is no registration and young children are welcome if they can read or play quietly.

For more information about the English Conversation Group, call 614-807-2656.

Astrid Olfenbuttel is an adult services librarian for Worthington Libraries.