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English Programs for Internationals

Conversation Partners

Conversation Partners
If you would like to meet EPI's current students, please consider becoming a Conversation Partner! The Conversation Partners program gives volunteers the opportunity to meet with international students learning English as a Second Language (ESL) in English Programs for Internationals (EPI). The program gives the EPI student the opportunity to practice his/her English and gives you the chance to meet students from other countries while broadening your cultural experience. This is a fun and easy way to make friends as well as help out our EPI students!

When and where does Conversation Partners meet?
Conversation Partners offers two conversation sessions a week, one on Tuesdays from 3:30pm - 4:30pm and one on Wednesdays from 3:30pm - 4:30pm. Sessions meet in the EPI classrooms located in Suite 652 on the 6th floor of the Close Hipp Building. Partners must commit to attending one session a week (or both sessions if they wish). Volunteers may begin at any time in the semester but are asked to commit to the program for the remainder of the semester.

What does a Conversation Partners session look like?
Volunteers and EPI students meet in the EPI classrooms. Students simply find a place to sit and spend the hour chatting with one another. If there is a good ratio of volunteers to EPI students, students can pair up one-on-one for the session.  However, students often meet in small groups of three (either one volunteer to two students, or two volunteers to one student).

Will volunteers have the same partner each week?
Maybe. Each session will have the same students returning week after week, so you may have the chance to visit with the same student(s) each week. You will not, however, be officially assigned to one particular student for the semester. This gives volunteers the chance to meet students from all over the world as well as providing the EPI students a chance to hear a variety of different accents and dialects.

How well will my partner be able to speak English?
American partners DO NOT need to be able to speak the native language of the EPI students (though it is great if you do!). Only the students who are in the intermediate and advanced levels of English study participate in the Conversation Partner program. The advanced level students are nearly ready to begin classes in a regular university setting.

What types of conversations will we have?
That is up to you and your partner. Depending on the EPI student’s English proficiency, you may have simple conversations along the lines of typical small talk, or you may have deeper conversations (one overheard conversation was discussing American politics and another discussed women’s rights around the world). EPI provides conversation prompts to assist students in getting conversations going.

What languages do the students at EPI speak?
Most of the students who come to EPI come from countries where Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Arabic, and Spanish are spoken. The exact languages spoken by our students vary term by term.

How do I apply?
Simply complete the Conversation Partner Application to apply to be a Conversation Partner!

You may also contact Chris Reid at or 803-777-7461 if you have any questions.