Imagine walking across campus and not being able to fully understanding the language nearly everyone is speaking. For most international students, that is what life is like on a day to day basis.
The Wilkes Intensive English Program is introducing a Conversation Partner Program to help international students practice speaking and understanding English.
“It [the program] allows the international students a chance to practice what they’re learning in the classroom in a real world situation, and to share their culture with American students. It also gives American students the chance to learn about other cultures and countries,” said Kimberly Niezgoda, founder and coordinator of the Intensive English Program at Wilkes.
There are two objectives to the program: To pair international students with native English speakers to help improve their English skills, and to increase cultural exposure for native English speakers. The program is designed for Wilkes University students to volunteer one hour per week in the late afternoon or evening, or on the weekend.
The program is more than just sitting around and talking; fun activates are encouraged.
“The program is talking, but in whatever social situation the students wish. For example, today I’m having a pizza party for all of them [those participating in the program] at noon in the Max Roth Center, and that’s how they’re introduced,” Niezgoda said.
“From there they can go for coffee, play pool, or do whatever they find interesting. Students should plan at least one hour a week to spend with their conversation partner.”
Another quality that Niezgoda hopes will draw the attention of this new program is that it is a fantastic resume builder. Adding cultural and language experience, some of today’s global society’s most important qualities to your resume helps employers get a good view of the interconnected type of person you would want to present yourself as.
“With prospective employers continually globalizing, they’re looking for individuals who can successfully function in the global environment, those who have an understanding of a different culture or even with non-native speakers of English, and a more worldly perspective as a result, and who therefore are likely to be more employable,” Niezgoda added.
The Intensive English Program has around 40 international students in need of conversation partners.
If you are interested in gaining more global perspectives, the Center for Global Education and Diversity holds a “Global Coffee Hour” every Wed. from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Savitz Lounge located on the second floor of the Henry Student Center.
The Multicultural Student Coalition here at Wilkes welcomes new students to join and get involved with the numerous global events featured on campus. The goal of this group is to teach native English- speaking participators how to relate to people with unfamiliar customs, cultures, beliefs, and ideals.
For more information, email Kimberly Niezgoda at [email protected] or stop by the Center for Global Education and Diversity in the Max Roth Center.