Awkward silences: International students look to each other for conversation partners
Jessica Sewing | Collegio Writer
Most international students, like Ya-Chu Gu, say that the hardest part of mastering a language is the pronunciation. Gu says she was happy when she received a conversation partner in her English class.
Gu met with her conversation partner every Friday in class and they would just talk about life, allowing Gu to get a chance to learn more about American culture.
“It was a good experience that was really beneficial to me,” said Gu, senior in English education.
Matthew Manning, graduate student in English, says there has been a lack of involvement in the program from American students, so they decided to hold group events. He says that way they can use the few Americans who are involved to talk to many Intensive English Program students at the same time.
“Conversation Partner events were very fun,” said Maru Lopez, IEP student. “I was able to talk to a lot of different people and not just American students.”
Manning says that the number of PSU students dwindles throughout the semester. He says there has recently been more involvement by students who commute from Ozark Christian College in Joplin than there has been by PSU students.
Leila Chiang says she signed up for the program, but her partner had too many scheduling conflicts for them to meet on a regular basis. But Chiang wanted to have a conversation partner because her teacher told her it would improve their English.
“I think it would have been useful to me to have someone to talk to,” said Chiang, senior in English. “It is actually good to have someone correct me so I can fix it.”
Like Chiang, Joy Wu wasn’t able to meet with her conversation partner as much as she would have liked. Her partner, Tyherah Sayles also had some scheduling conflicts. Sayles says that it was hard to find time to meet because of her busy schedule.
“I think it was a great experience,” said Sayles, freshman in English education. “It gave me a chance to learn how differently other people act.”
Manning says he would encourage any PSU student to join and says they shouldn’t be afraid or nervous to come.
“Our students are very outgoing and willing to talk to anyone,” Manning said. “If PSU students were willing to come and just say hello, our IEP students would be eager to simply talk.”
He says that the IEP students never lose hope. Many still come every two weeks for the events, to practice with each other and make the best of the activities that were planned.
“I think the students are still a little bit disappointed,” Manning said.
Chiang says that more American students should get involved with conversation partners to expose themselves to cultures other than their own.
“I think that conversation partners can learn from each other,” Chiang said. “It doesn’t just have to be correcting grammar. We can learn about each other’s cultures and customs.”