Conversation Partner Program teaches students about culture

Emily Haase

The ELI Conversation Partner Program is designed to teach non-native English speaking students conversational English. A non-native speaker is partnered with a native speaker, and they meet once a week to discuss their culture, their families, and their studies, among other things. The program is meant to teach non-native English speakers how to speak English conversationally, but native speakers can benefit as well.

“We have a dual purpose,” says program coordinator Rose Speck. “We have to focus on non-native English speakers learning, but this way English speaking students get a global experience. I hope [the students] get a broadened view point of the culture they’re exposed to, and get a more authentic perspective of what the country their partner is from is like.”

These meetings can help English speaking Crowder students to expand their views on another culture, and see the way other people live.

“That is definitely something I would be interested in; I would love to learn about another culture,” said Cheyenne Patterson, an English speaking Crowder student. “I wish I would’ve known about this program sooner and I would have signed up. If they have this going on again next semester I would definitely consider joining.”

The program doesn’t seem slated to stop any time soon, as Speck started it about a year and a half ago and says students seem to be getting a lot out of it.

“This is [non-native English speaker] Eiline Hong’s second time doing the program, and she’s getting very good with her English,” said Speck.

“I’ve learned more about America, and I’ve learned vocabulary.,” said Lolo Jo, a Brazilian international student. “I’ve had fun and made new friends as well, so I enjoy [the program].”

The non-native English speakers are benefitting by learning how to use slang terms and bettering their pronunciation of English words, but the English speakers are benefitting by getting a chance to learn about a completely different culture. Overall, everyone in the program seems to be getting something valuable out of the program.