Intensive English Program students learn outside classroom with conversation partners

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    Jenga, Apples to Apples, Catch Phrase and Uno are just some of the ways that students are helping other students in the Intensive English Program work on their English skills and learn more about American culture.

    Undergraduate students from the John V. Roach Honors College and Chi Alpha, a Christian student organization on campus, work with the IEP students throughout the semester.

    Their meetings give IEP students a chance to practice English conversation and sometimes play a few hours of games, IEP Coordinator Britt Luby said.

    IEP students are paired with conversation partners, who are honors students from Dr. Daniel Williams’ English course.

    “I was looking around for a community-service type project a few years ago, and I wanted to do something to enhance our own campus. Working with international students seemed like a natural fit,” Williams said.

    Over the course of the semester, some students develop strong friendships with their partners.

    “From my conversation partner, I found that university studying is very difficult and you need to keep working hard,” Lingya Zhao, a student from China, said.

    “I would love to see this relationship between IEP and Honors continuing for years to come. I think it is a remarkable experience for both sides,” Williams said. “They not only learn about a culture and country beyond the usual uninformed stereotypes, but they also get to know an international student as an individual.”

    Chi Alpha has paired with IEP students before.

    “We love international students and have become very good friends with the students of IEP,” said Chi Alpha campus minister Alicia Youngblood.

    “We hope to serve the students by helping them practice English. As a Christian organization, we believe that we are to love and serve those around us, so this is just one of the many ways we can do that.”

    Williams’ students keep a blog about their experiences with their conversation partners.

    “It is really cool getting to meet someone who is from a different country, speaks a different first language and yet has so many similarities with me,” sophomore English major Kit Snyder said. “It is always fun to meet with my conversation partner because it feels like meeting with a friend.”