By SARAH VEENSTRA
Parler en anglais s’il vous plait? … Huh?
While most Canadians may be lucky enough to speak English, the universal language, as their first language, not everyone does.
With English being reported as one of the most difficult languages to learn, Conestoga College’s Student Life department is trying to make it easier for international students, in part through a program called English Conversation Partners (ECP).
“We match fluent English-speaking students with students who wish to practise their conversational English,” said Sarah Daly, a Student Life programmer for leadership initiatives. “These partners are expected to meet once a week for one hour on campus.”
The program kicks off every semester with the ECP Welcome Event: Meet Your Match. This semester’s will take place on Feb. 10 in the CozE Corner at Doon campus.
“The purpose of the event is to create a safe and comfortable environment for the partners to meet for the first time as the idea of meeting a stranger and having to sit down and talk for an hour can be quite nerve-wracking,” said Daly. “We will have some activities planned to get the ball rolling, but we expect that most partners will just strike up their own conversations.”
While the event is only open to those who’ve applied and been accepted to the program, applications are still being accepted until Feb. 22 for fluent English-speaking volunteers, as they have an abundance of English language learners (ELLs) who still need to be matched.
“Last semester we had 25 people attend the event,” said Daly. “I don’t know how many people will be in attendance on Feb. 10 but I’m expecting a smaller turnout as partners from the previous semester no longer need the meet-n-greet.”
Partners such as Leah Goodhew, a second-year health office administration student, and Rui Geng, a first-year student in mobile software development, found their first semester as partners to be an enjoyable experience – one they hope to continue throughout this semester.
“I’ve enjoyed getting to meet a new friend and learning about his past life and work experiences, as well as learning more about his culture in China and Japan,” said Goodhew in her ECP program testimonial.
The application process is open to all students the first day of each semester until all ELLs have been matched.
“Great friendships often arise out of these partnerships,” Daly said. “And we use the Meet Your Match event to get these partnerships off to a good start.”