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Meet Jared Waks of Social Lingo in Santa Monica

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jared Waks.

Jared, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
In September of 2016, I decided to quit my job and buy a one-way ticket to Ecuador, which turned into six amazing months of traveling South America: meeting people from all over the world, sharing in local cultures, and learning Spanish. Early in my travels, I discovered Language Exchange Parties, which are very common in all South American countries, and I fell in love with them. I attended Language Exchange Parties in Colombia, Peru, Chile, and Argentina, improving my Spanish by having conversations with interesting and awesome locals and helping them to practice their English too.

I made friends with tons of awesome people at these events, and they would invite me to come with them to surf, dine at local restaurants, explore hidden gems, and enjoy a myriad of other experiences that I never would have found in a guide book. And the whole time I was able to continually improve my Spanish by chatting with my new friends.

As my six months of travel drew towards a close, I wondered, “Do we have these Language Exchange Parties back in Los Angeles?” My travels had to end, for the time being, but I wanted to continue to improve my language fluency and meet incredible, multi-cultural people, now and always.

So, I started Social Lingo, bringing the magic of language exchange parties to my hometown. Through Meetup.com, Couchsurfing, and Facebook, I now have the privilege of bringing over 100 people, from all over the world, to meet, practice language, and make new friends, every other Tuesday night in Santa Monica at Solidarity Restaurant’s back patio bar.

Has it been a smooth road?
The biggest challenge with starting any social network or event is coming strong out of the gate. In other words, the first event has to be big enough that those attendees want to come back, creating a foundation from which the event can grow. So, I really made a big marketing push across the various social networking sites as well as with flyers at local hostels and language schools. But also, in a big way, I leaned on my friends to really fill-up the first event. The first Social Lingo language party had 35 attendees, and probably 15 of them were my friends. And my friends are awesome! So everyone had a good time, wanted to come back, and looked forward to bringing their own multi-lingual friends. And it grew from there.

Now, every Social Lingo party has over 100 attendees with over 30 languages represented. We have lots of people who’ve been coming since the very first event in March 2017, but always a huge number of first time language partiers too.

Building Social Lingo was definitely a challenge, but it’s really been a pleasure, every step of the way.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
I love that Social Lingo always brings in an extremely diverse group of people who really have just one thing in common: cultural respect and curiosity. Some people come who mainly speak one language but are dipping their toes into a second, while others come fluent in eight. But everyone is interested in the experiences of others and broadening their own perspective. You won’t find any ethnocentrism at Social Lingo events.

What makes me most proud of Social Lingo is how it has transformed the lives of a lot of ex-pats living here in Los Angeles, I’ve had numerous attendees — regulars who have been coming for months — approach me to let me know that Social Lingo has, to a large extent, changed their lives. They confess they’ve been living in Los Angeles, some for months and some for years, with no solid group of friends or social network. Through Social Lingo, they were able to connect with others — other ex-pats who speak their language, L.A. natives who are learning their language, or just other cool people they were able to meet because of the uniquely easy-going setting of a language party.

There really aren’t any other language exchange parties in Los Angeles or in the Southern California area. But, some attendees who are coming from as far as Orange County, as well as travelers stopping in from other states, have told me that after experiencing Social Lingo they’re considering starting their own; and I think that’s great! The more the better!

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Los Angeles is the perfect place for language exchange parties! We have so much diversity: rich communities of ex-pats, a thriving tourism scene, and a wonderful hodgepodge of ancestral backgrounds. Not to mention, our great weather supports year-round outdoor gathering — Solidarity’s gorgeous outdoor patio bar is essential for accommodating our huge turnout — and LA just has that vibrant energy: we like having fun!

Pricing:

  • $5 entry
  • Participants get Happy Hour Specials all night long: huge discounts on beer, wine, craft cocktails, and the best Polish food in town!
  • Get a free welcome shot of anything you want when you check-in to Solidarity Restaurant on Facebook

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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