Language Tables started with "La Mesa”, our Spanish table, in the Spring of 2010 when Peer Tutor Meagan Smejdir wanted to give fellow students opportunities to practice speaking Spanish. Initially, La Mesa sessions focused on building conversation skills directly, but changed in 2011 when the La Mesa team (with the leadership of Peer Tutor Samantha Bohl) developed games and activities that tied directly to course content and ensured conversational practice. With support from faculty members of the Modern Language Department, La Mesa's success skyrocketed, increasing attendance from 20 visits in Spring 2010 to 279 visits in Fall 2011.
Modern Language faculty members recognized the value of La Mesa, and helped the Learning Commons develop Language Tables for all five languages taught at UNK. In the Fall of 2012, Chinese and French faculty members hosted their own Language Tables in the Learning Commons. By Spring 2013, these two tables became student-facilitated through the Learning Commons working in close collaboration with Modern Languages faculty. Stammtisch, our German Language Table, was developed in Fall 2012 by Peer and Writing Tutor Rae Fahlander, who also single-handedly planned and facilitated its sessions with direct support from German faculty members. Finally, the Japanese Language Table began in Fall 2013 in collaboration with Japanese faculty and exchange students.
All Learning Commons Language Tables work from the principle of learning while having fun. Language Table tutors and leaders use games and activities from the native cultures of its speaking people, as well as those developed or adapted for La Mesa.