Interested in teaching or learning better English?

Through the Conversation Partner Program, volunteers meet each week with an international student to help build confidence in American English and better understand the culture. The Conversation Partner Program is a part of the Intensive English Language Program at Portland State.

Through the Conversation Partner Program, volunteers meet each week with an international student to help build confidence in American English and better understand the culture. The Conversation Partner Program is a part of the Intensive English Language Program at Portland State.

The IELP is one of the oldest university-based English Second Language programs in Oregon, according to the Department of Applied Linguistics’ Web site. Also, during any term, up to 400 students may be enrolled in the Conversation Partner Program.

If you would like to volunteer
Volunteers are expected to share knowledge about marriage customs, food, holidays, education, military services, politics, driving procedures, gender roles, crime, cost of living and religious customs in the United States.

Volunteers also ask ESL students to speak about the places they have traveled, sports, music and movies.
“It is a great experience for students if they want to work overseas or have volunteer hours or internship credits to fulfill,” said Kristi Kang, IELP activities coordinator.

The requirements to volunteer in the Conversation Partner Program are simple. Volunteers have to enjoy meeting new people and they must meet their partners near campus at least four times during the term.

Responsibilities of volunteers also include calling your conversation partner and deciding upon a mutually agreed time and place, motivating them to practice English, discovering how they would like you to help them with English and accurately guiding them.

If you are a student
“This program offers a unique opportunity for you to learn about the culture and people of the United States,” Kang said. “This program will link you with a native speaker of English or sometimes to nonnative speakers who speak English well enough to help you practice and adjust to this culture.”

Kang made it clear that conversation partners are not to help the students with their homework unless it is a speaking or listening assignment.

The Conversation Partner Program is offered throughout the year, free of cost.

Interested students and volunteers can pick up an application in East Hall, room 113. For more information, contact the IELP Activities Office by telephone at 503-725-5124 or send an e-mail to [email protected]