The Conversation Partner program involves groups of 2-3 people in which at least one participant is a non-native speaker of English and at least one participant is a native speaker of English. Conversation partners meet at least once per week during the semester at UW-Platteville and speak in English and learn about each other's culture through conversation.
What is the Conversation Partner Program?
Students participating in the Conversation Partner program meet with their conversation partners 20 hours per semester (1-2 hours/week) to have weekly conversations about various topics. Suggested topics are listed in the following for their reference. Mutual respect is expected of both parties.
- To provide opportunities for international students to practice their spoken English with a U.S. student outside the classroom;
- To promote intercultural understanding and awareness between U.S. students and international students;
- To provide opportunities for interested U.S. students to learn about other cultures or languages;
- To provide opportunities for international students to learn about U.S. culture
- To help promote U.S. students' interest in studying abroad; and
- To help promote U.S. students' interest in learning another language
- Attend an infomational session put on by the ISSS staff at the beginning of each semester.
- Conversation partners should establish a weekly meeting date/time and commit to meet at least 1-2 hours per week. If you cannot make this weekly commitment, please refrain from applying for the Conversation Partner program.
- Neither conversation partner should expect the other student to entertain him/her; both the native English speaker and the non-native English speaker should bring topics to the meeting to discuss.
- Neither conversation partner should have to do all of the work of keeping a conversation flowing easily.
- Native English speakers should engage in this activity of being a conversation because you are interested in getting to know a non-native speaker of English. Some domestic students might choose to participate in this program because they a seeking ways to fulfill educational, professional, as well as personal goals, but please remember that your conversation partner is a person and not an assignment.
- These sessions should not be an interview with the native English speaker asking all the questions and the non-native English speaker providing the answers; rather, rather these sessions should be a mutual exchange where both the native and non-native English speakers discover and get to know each other.
- Both conversation partners should explore the mindset of the other and, in the process, work on the non-native speaker’s English language skills.
- The native English speaker should minimize error correction; that is, he/she should correct only those errors that block communication. Constant correction slows down conversation and hinders the development of fluency.
- Do not use non-native English speaker’s time as chance to practice native English speaker’s second language.
- If one of the conversation partners is consistently not responding to the other’s emails, texts, and/or phone calls, please notify the International Student and Scholar Services Office (608-342-1852).
Benefits for Non-Native Speakers
- Improve your ability to converse comfortably in English.
- Improve your grammatical correctness when speaking English.
- Improve your pronunciation of English words.
- Improve your knowledge of English colloquialisms and idiomatic English.
- Engage in social interactions between U.S., native English speakers and non-native speakers of English.
- Give a native speaker of English an opportunity to get to know you, your culture and/or your country
Benefits for Native Speakers
- Improve listening skills and increase comfort level while dealing with international students.
- Engage in opportunities for social interaction and understanding of students coming from other countries/cultures
- Improve leadership skills.
- Develop skills in social diplomacy and cross-cultural communication
- Develop increased awareness of other languages, history and societies
- Increase the awareness of the international student population and the International Programs Office on campus
Guidelines for Conversation Partners
- Commitment of participation is for one semester
- Contact your conversation partner within 1 week of being assigned to your partner to set up a specific time and place to meet.
- Confirm first meeting with your conversation partner via e-mail; copy message to the ISSS Graduate Assistant.
- Select a public space on UW-Platteville campus or in downtown Platteville for future meetings.
- If for some reason, you cannot keep an appointment, contact your conversation partner to explain the reason for your failure to show up and re-establish a new appointment; copy message to ISSS Graduate Assistant.
- If you need additional ideas/topics for conversation partnering, contact the ISSS Graduate Assistant.
- At the end of the semester, fill out the Conversation Partner evaluation survey that is sent to your UW-Platteville email account.
- Introductions (where you are from, family, hobbies, major, etc.)
- Education system
- How people spend their free time in your culture/country
- How people greet each other in your culture/country
- Challenges/successes you are encountering
- Cultural customs – holidays, marriage, funerals, etc.
- Places you have traveled
- Hypothetical situations (If you had the choice of doing any job, what would it be?)
- Current events
For an extensive list of conversation topics, please see: http://iteslj.org/questions/