Conversation Partners Tips

One great way to get to know international students is to offer to help them with their English. Often this takes the form of conversation partners. Keep these things in mind when meeting with your conversation partner.

  • Find out what specific things they want to work on during your conversation time.
  • Make sure they’re talking! The goal is for them to learn English, not for you to spend all the meetings talking at them. These are conversations, not speeches. Listen and ask good questions.
  • It’s okay to take things slowly – don’t expect them to fix everything all at once.
  • Be flexible in your scheduling – many international students are very concerned about grades and will want to spend more time on schoolwork than you might.
  • Don’t be afraid to repeat things often, and have realistic expectations for how much they can get from each session.
  • Give genuine and frequent encouragement, but don’t tell them they’re doing great if they aren’t. Be constructive and smart in your praise.
  • Try to come up with ways of making tasks into games, or finding humor or imagination as a new way to look at something as dry as grammar.
  • Use resources that will be helpful for them. Some cultures may be hesitant to ask you questions. Be aware of their background and how it will influence their learning.
  • Be willing to set aside how you think things should be and instead work with your partner to meet their week to week needs.

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