Conversation Partners

Who are Conversation Partners?

Since 1990, the University of Connecticut American English Language Institute (UCAELI), has provided English instruction to more than 3,000 students from countries throughout the world. UCAELI supports all students in pursuit of their goals by providing high quality instruction and access to the university's academic, professional, social and cultural resources. 

Conversation Partners play an important role in UCAELI students’ English education. Volunteers are university students, staff, local middle school and high school students, and other members in the local community. UCAELI students need to hear English and practice with their peers in personal and informal settings. Many of our previous students and conversation partners have formed lasting friendships. Volunteering to be a Conversation Partner is a way to experience another culture without ever leaving the Storrs campus. Who knows, you may end up visiting our students in their countries someday!

Conversation Partner time discussions are related to UCAELI’s Communication Skills course objectives. Partners who join conversation classes will be guided by a UCAELI instructor on how to participate in each class. Generally, partners will be placed with a small group of students who will have some questions or conversation strategy to practice relating to something they are learning in their Communication Skills classes. Topics and activities vary from discussions about culture, current events, academic subjects, and university life.  The commitment to being a Conversation Partner is flexible. Partners may join classes regularly or just once or twice. Conversation Partners are encouraged to let the instructor know in advance about their level of commitment so they can plan lessons accordingly. 

What do Conversation Partners get from the experience? 

  • Learn about other cultures
  • Make new friends from all over the world
  • Help international students participate more fully in the UConn community
  • Gain experience in providing language feedback, explanations, and suggestions in a language learning classroom
  • Participate in UCAELI activities outside of classes

What are the opportunities for Conversation Partner Volunteers? 

The UCAELI program is for adult learners of English who are mostly between 18–24 years of age. Many of these students are preparing to enter a college or university in the U.S. Others are improving their English skills for professional purposes or simply to be able to communicate better. This program is offered year-round in four sessions. Students in the program study English 22 hours per week from Monday through Friday.

A UCAELI instructor facilitates the class, so no preparation or previous experience is necessary. The one requirement of volunteer partners is to speak in English!

Option A (Fall 2023): Wednesdays, 5:00pm-6:0pm (9/6/23 - 11/8/23) - 1hr

Option B (Fall 2023): Fridays, 11:00am-12:00pm (9/8/23 - 12/8/23) - 1hr

Option C (Fall 2023): Cross Cultural Connections (CCC) pairs undergraduate international and American students as conversation partners. International students can strengthen their grasp of the English language and familiarize themselves with American culture, while student conversation partners get the opportunity to learn about different cultures. Both students also get the opportunity to make a new friend!

Please email for more information. 

We ask that partners come ready to talk, learn and share with our students!

Apply to become a Conversation Partner!