Montgomery Place Languages

Montgomery Place residents (left to right) Yrech Pardo, Bernice Auslander and Leah Kadden enjoy conversing at their French-speaking dinner group, which meets the first Monday of the month. A German dinner group meets on the second Monday of the month. – Waldemar Reichert

Montgomery Place residents enjoy dining, French, and GermanSpeaking a second language keeps the mind sharp as we age, according to a highly-publicized study conducted at Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences in Hyderabad, India. Among a group of the sharpest older adults in Hyde Park are residents of Montgomery Place, a continuing care retirement community at 5550 South Shore Drive. Many grew up speaking multiple languages. During their careers, others lived abroad.

On the first Monday of the month, in a quiet area of the community’s main dining room, a dozen or so residents converse over dinner in French. They occupy one long table, designated for their specific purpose. Another group converses in German on the second Monday of the month.

Montgomery Place residents say these monthly gatherings are a great way to maintain fluency in their original language, strengthen abilities in a second language, and to have fun, according to Evi Levin, a resident who oversees the foreign language dinners program.

“Some residents participate in both groups,” said Levin, who grew up in Bulgaria and served as a language translator for the Voice of America.

In 2013, she and fellow-resident Bernice Auslander started a regularly scheduled dinner for people who speak French. Not long after, a German table was started.

Auslander, a retired mathematician and professor, learned French in high school and lived in Paris during the 1960s. She wanted to improve her French in preparation for vacations at her daughter’s summer home in Normandy.

Residents often bring favorite cookbooks, playbills, travel books, newspapers, family mementos and other materials published in French and German for others to enjoy. Mealtime banter includes current events, family news, the meal being served, the weather and inquiries about each other.

For more information, call 773-753-4100 or visit montgomeryplace.org.