The campus Conversation Partner program pairs students from Pierce College’s English as a Second Language classes with native English speakers to help ESL students further understand English.
Casual conversation with their partners allows ESL students to learn more about the flow of conversation and what it’s like to interact with English-speaking students outside of the classroom setting.
Partners meet once every week. They have a choice of meeting at the weekly function on Mondays or meeting at a different pre-arranged time of their choice.
In its third year at Pierce College, this program has previously had students from around the world, including Brazil, Cambodia, China, Egypt, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Korea, Mexico, Peru, Sudan, Ukraine and other countries as well.
“It’s best in an everyday context,” Naomi Krant, ESL instructor, said. “It doesn’t work so well in a classroom.”
Learning goes both ways. The goal is that both the ESL and native English-speaking students will learn more about cultures different from the ones they grew up in and hopefully make a new friend in the process. The English-speaking student also can be helped by these meetings because when at all possible, students who are taking a foreign language will be matched with an ESL student who speaks that language.
Attempting to learn a new language and speak it coherently is not an easy task. Who remembers taking a foreign language in high school? Matching vocabulary words to their definitions and learning how to say phrases in order to get a good grade on a test is unlike learning a language for the purpose of communicating with others native to that language.
Sentence structure and word usage differ so much from language to language. This is why native English speakers can teach those who are still learning better than a book can.
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