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English Conversation Partners

UMBC Students

The ELI Conversation Partner Program matches English speaking UMBC students, faculty and staff with ELI students. The program promotes cultural exchange, international friendship, and language learning.

ELI students and UMBC volunteers meet for 1 hour once a week for informal conversation and often attend events on campus or spend time bonding off campus. The Conversation Partner Program opens up unique opportunities for both participants to learn and grow as individuals.

The Process:

  • Interested ELI students and volunteers apply online (see below).
  • ELI students and volunteers each attend separate orientations and sign a sexual harassment training contract.
  • The ELI staff matches students and volunteers based on availability, interests and gender (if preferable).
  • Partners begin meeting independently. If any issues or concerns arise that cannot be settled between the partners, please contact the ELI immediately with any issues or concerns.
  • ELI students and volunteers meet together at the ELI Conversation Partners Meet & Greet Social Event (Free Pizza!)

The Conversation Partner Program has many benefits for both ELI students and UMBC volunteers.

Conversation Cafe

The Conversation Cafe is an open meeting place where any student can come for casual conversation and fun group activities. Students sign in upon arrival and then break into conversation groups. Snacks, games, and ice-breaker activities are provided and then groups are left to freely converse in an informal atmosphere. There is no application process to join the Conversation Cafe. Conversation Cafe meets every week during the semester in the afternoon.

Check at the ELI front desk or contact us for more information about schedules and meeting locations.

For ELI Students

ELI students have a unique opportunity to use the language they learn inside the classroom in an authentic context. By meeting regularly with a conversation partner, ELI students are likely to experience great improvements with their listening and speaking skills.

Students Apply Here!

For Volunteers

UMBC volunteers will have a rare opportunity to meet an individual from another culture and to experience a unique perspective of the world they live in. This will enhance their cultural understanding and open up new horizons of interest. Often, volunteers and ELI students form lasting relationships, and some volunteers even visit their new friends in their home countries!

Volunteers Apply Here!

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