Conversation Partners is an opportunity that pairs students in the Intensive English as a Second Language (IESL) program with more proficient English speaking members of the Michigan Tech community. The program is open to students, faculty and staff. Participants commit to one-hour a week of one-on-one informal conversation by signing a contract with the IESL program for one semester. The contract commits them to meet their partner in public places on campus for a minimum of one hour a week.
IESL is offering this opportunity again for the fall semester; consider giving an international student an hour of your time. It makes an enormous difference.
How the program works:
- Interested students, faculty, and staff members may download and complete a form.
- IESL matches students with participants. The program makes every effort to match people of the same gender though sometimes this may be difficult. IESL will always check with volunteers before matching them with someone of the opposite gender.
- IESL introduces the conversation partners to each other at an initial meeting. Both parties sign a contract stating that they will meet on campus once a week for the duration of the semester.
- Though partners meet independently, Listening and Speaking teachers will often check in with students.
- If there are any concerns, we ask that volunteers contact the IESL program as soon as possible.
Why participate in this opportunity? As a member of the Michigan Tech community, there are many reasons why you should consider and commit to being conversation partner. Here are some of them:
- Make a new friend and create a potentially rewarding friendship
- Help an international student understand American culture and society
- Experience the contemporary global landscape from the unique perspective of one of our international students
- Develop deeper cultural awareness and understanding by through a sustained conversation with someone from a different country
- Participate in promoting rewarding cross-language relations and cross-cultural dialogue on campus
The role of a Conversation Partner: As a partner your main responsibility is to offer your IESL student conversation practice. At times you may have to explain English language points but we are not asking you to be an English as a Second Language teacher. The goal is for your conversation partner to have plenty of speaking and listening practice.
The IESL program can provide ideas for your weekly meetings at the program’s preliminary meeting. Those who have participated have found the experience rewarding. We urge others to give it a try. Contact IESL with questions at email@example.com.
(This article originally appeared in Tech Today.)