Campus Conversation Partners
Campus Conversation Partners is a program sponsored by ESL Programs that pairs non-native-English-speaking students, scholars, and staff with native or near-native English-speaking members of the University faculty and staff for one-on-one, informal conversation in English. The program promotes and encourages cultural awareness and understanding, helps international students understand and adapt to U.S. culture, and provides both participants the opportunity to see the world from another perspective and create a rewarding new friendship.
How it works:
- Interested students, faculty, or staff members can apply online.
- ESL Programs matches partners, based on results of the brief interest survey included with the application. Efforts are made to match people of the same gender, but if you have no gender preference, you may indicate that on the form.
- ESL Programs introduces partners to each other at a preliminary meeting at which both partners sign a brief contract stating that they will meet on campus for one hour a week for the duration of the semester.
- Partners begin meeting independently. If, at any point, a participant has concerns about the program, he or she should contact ESL Programs.
The application period for the Fall 2013 session is now closed. We will begin accepting applications for Spring 2014 in January.
- View or print our brochure
- Tips for a successful partnership
- Tips for meeting with non-native English speakers
- Potential conversation topics
Responses from the UI Community
"Your program has allowed me to make two new friends, Eri AND his wife, and has given me an opportunity to be of service in more than just English conversation practice. From my perspective, this is a great program that allows relationships to grow along with proficiency in the English language." —Patricia McNichol, Research Assistant
"From my perspective, this has been a most rewarding program for me. My partner is a delightful person and I have learned a lot about the Chinese culture from him. It has also given me a better perspective on how other cultures may view Americans." —Wayne Abbott, Director of Engineering Services
"We have truly enjoyed taking time out of our day to meet for lunch and share our experiences and learn from each other." —Vilma Rosauer, Project Assistant
"Last semester, I had such, such a great experience with my conversation partner. We became life-long friends." —Shayna, graduate student
"The conversation partner program has been nothing short of a complete joy. While the mutual exchange of cultural information is valuable to any individual, I recommend the program because of the lifelong friendship it offered me." —Patrick, graduate student