Choose U of GImprove LifeNews
Two students talking

Conversation Partners Program

The Conversation Partners Program is for English as an Additional Language undergraduate and graduate students who wish to be paired with a student volunteer in order to practice and improve their spoken English. Student volunteers who sign-up for the Program get a chance to connect with someone from a different culture and learn about their culture and traditions, while helping them improve their conversational English.

Program Objectives

  • To provide students who speak English as an additional language (EAL) with a space to practice conversational English in a supportive, non-academic setting.
  • To help students strengthen their English language proficiency.
  • To connect students with the broader U of G community through peer-to-peer mentorship. 
  • To provide volunteers with a space to develop leadership skills

If you have questions or would like to speak with someone about the Conversation Partners Program, contact us at convpart@uoguelph.ca 
 

Jump to a section 

Join the Conversation Partners program as an English as an Additional Language Student

Would you like to practice and improve your conversational English skills in a one-on-one setting with a student volunteer? Meet someone who will connect you with services, opportunities, and academic, social, and cultural resources on campus and in the community? Educate others about your language and culture? Make a new U of G friend from a different culture from your own? Then the Conversation Partners Program is for you!

Note: A limited number of spaces are available each semester and will be filled on a first-come-first-served basis. If all available spaces are full, you will be invited to join the Conversation Café and/or reapply the following semester.

Apply to join the Conversation Partners Program by completing the online application form on GryphLife – International Student Connections.

Current undergraduate and graduate University of Guelph students whose first language is not English.

1-2 hours per week for one semester.

Partners will either arrange a time and place to meet one-on-one or attend a Conversation Café together. Partners can also share cultural perspectives and experiences by attending events both on and off campus.

Complete the online application form on GryphLife – International Student Connections. Once matched, partners will be contacted by the program coordinator.

Program applications are accepted and partner matching happens in August-September (Fall semester) and December-January (Winter semester).

 


Join the Conversation Partners program as a volunteer

Would you like to help an English as an Additional Language student become more comfortable with the English language and practice their verbal communication skills? Join the program to help students build their confidence in using conversational English while connecting with someone from a different culture! You can also request a student from a certain country if you are also interested in learning a specific language.

By having a Conversation Partner, you will:

  • Help an English as an Additional Language Student with their conversational English.
  • Learn about another culture through close interaction with your Conversation Partner.
  • Develop cross-cultural communication skills and improve your intercultural competence.
  • Make a new friend from a culture different from your own.


Volunteer with the Conversation Partners Program by completing the online application form on GryphLife – International Student Connections.

Current undergraduate and graduate students who are comfortable in their ability to help students with their English and would like to learn about new cultures are eligible to volunteer for the Conversation Partners Program.

After you sign up for the Conversation Partners program, you will need to complete a 90-minute online training to better prepare you for your role as a Conversation Partner volunteer. After completing the training, the program coordinator will pair you with a student. You will help your Conversation Partner improve their conversational English skills.

1-2 hours per week for one semester.

Conversation Partners make arrangements with each other about where and when to meet, or they attend a Conversation Café together. Partners can also share cultural perspectives and experiences by attending events both on and off campus.

 

 


Conversation Cafés

Conversation Café is a joint program with Conversation Partners. It's open to both undergraduate and graduate students participating in the Conversation Partners program and to the general public. Conversation Cafés are a welcoming and informal space for peer-led discussions and activities. The Café promotes informal discussions where cultures are shared and students have the opportunity to improve their conversational English in a comfortable and welcoming environment.

Conversation Cafés are held Thursdays from 5:00 - 6:00 p.m. in the fall and winter semesters.

Testimonials from past participants

Here's what other International and English as an Additional Language students have said about the Conversation Partners Program:

"I felt more confident by the end of the semester. My partner and I became friends!"

"Conversation Partner Program is a useful program to help International students to meet friends, to learn about cultures and to build confidence. I spent a lot of wonderful time with volunteers and often hung out with my partners. We share a lot about our interests. It's a fantastic program. Thanks to all the volunteers very much."

Here are some of the things past volunteers have said about their experience with the Conversation Partners Program:

"This was a great experience. I was able to learn about not only different cultures and stories from a different academic department, but also improve my English. I feel it is important to be able to talk in simple English when talking to someone whose first language is not English."

"The Conversation Partner Program was a wonderful experience! I had the opportunity to help a new international student feel welcome and comfortable here, while also learning so much about a culture very different from my own."