Rutgers Students and New Brunswick Community Members Gather to Celebrate Multilingual Literacy

By: Jessica Ohnmacht
Master’s degree student in the Language Education program


The Conversation Tree: Community-Based Language Partnerships held a Multilingual Conversation Café in celebration of National Literacy Action Week this month. The Multilingual Conversation Café gave Rutgers University students and New Brunswick community members the opportunity to practice language skills in an informal setting. Twelve community members served as conversation facilitators, sharing their first language with twenty-nine Rutgers students. Students chose to engage in Spanish, Mandarin, Japanese, Persian (Farsi), Portuguese, or English conversation. The activities were designed to incorporate all learners, from beginners to more advanced speakers.

Participants reflected on the diversity of languages spoken in New Jersey and the impact of multilingual literacy while practicing their language skills. After reflecting on the importance of multilingual literacy through group discussions, participants created flyers describing the importance of multilingual literacy.

The Conversation Tree is a partnership between the Rutgers Graduate School of Education and The Collaborative Center for Community-Based Research and Service that aims to support mutually beneficial learning environments for Rutgers students and New Brunswick community members.

Contributions from the Student Coalition for Action in Literacy Education (SCALE) allowed The Conversation Tree to purchase bilingual dictionaries that were utilized during the event. The Conversation Tree, with the support of SCALE, has been able to create greater awareness of the Conversation Cafés that support adult language learners within the New Brunswick community. This semester there are opportunities for adults to practice English, Spanish, and Chinese in the local community.


For more information on The Conversation Tree visit their website.