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Conversation Partners

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The Conversation Partner Program at the English Language Institute

ELI StudentsThe ELI Conversation Partner Program matches English speaking UMBC students, faculty and staff with ELI students. The goal of the program is to promote cultural exchange, international friendship, and language learning.

ELI students and UMBC volunteers meet for at least 1 hour a week for informal conversation. In many cases, ELI students and volunteers go beyond just talking: partners can attend events on campus, go to movies, or even participate in activities happening in Baltimore!

The Conversation Partner Program has many benefits for both ELI students and UMBC volunteers:

ELI students have a unique opportunity to use the language they learn inside the classroom in an authentic context. By meeting regularly with a conversation partner, ELI students will experience great improvements with their listening and speaking skills.

UMBC volunteers will have a rare opportunity to meet an individual from another culture and to experience a unique perspective of the world they live in. This will enhance their cultural understanding and open up new horizons of interest. Often, volunteers and ELI students form lasting relationships, and some volunteers even visit their new friends in their home countries!

In short, the Conversation Partner Program opens up unique opportunities for both participants to learn and grow as individuals.

The Process:

  1. Interested ELI students and volunteers apply online (see below).
  2. ELI students and volunteers each attend separate orientations and sign a sexual harassment training contract.
  3. The ELI staff matches students and volunteers based on gender (if preferable), interests and availability.
  4. Partners begin meeting independently. Partners should contact the ELI immediately if they have any issues or concerns.
  5. ELI students and volunteers meet together at the ELI Conversation Partners Meet & Greet Social Event (Free Pizza!)