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.
Who Can Participate?
- Native Speakers: Any faculty or staff at the University of Iowa may apply for this program. If you are a student, you must be employed by the university in some way in order to participate.
- Non-Native Speakers: Any students, faculty, or staff who are non-native speakers of English may apply for this program.
- Other: We cannot accommodate any applicants who are not employed by or studying at the University of Iowa. If you are a community member interested in conversation practice, please email us for alternative programs.
How It Works:
- At the beginning of the semester, a mass email is sent asking for applicants, and the application is open for about two weeks, then closes.
- After the application closes, all participants will be sent a link to an online orientation explaining the program. Applicants must complete the orientation, including a signature, in order to be matched with a partner.
- After completing orientation, participants are eligible to be matched. The CCP coordinators will match partners according to the gender preference and general application answers. Efforts are made to match people of the same gender, but if you have no gender preference, please indicate this on the form.
- After you have been matched, you will receive an email with your partner’s information. You may contact them any time after that to set up your initial meeting.
- If at any point, a participant has concerns about the program or their partner, they should contact ESL Programs.
Note: Please do not specify to be partnered with someone from a specific country or language. We are unable to meet these requests.
- 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