Conversation Partners Program
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) at 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!
Who: USC students, faculty and staff can volunteer with Conversation Partners.
What: Conversation Partners is an easy, informal program where EPI students and volunteers simply 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. Students often meet in small groups of three or sometimes meet in a large group together (depending on the interest of the group that day). EPI staff will also coordinate occassional "field trips" and visit places such as the MicKissick Museum or the SC Statehouse to get our students out in real world settings.
Where: Conversation sessions typcially meet in the EPI classroom space on the 4th floor of the Close-Hipp Building.
When: For the 2022-2023 academic year, Conversation Partners is meeting Wednesdays 3:15 - 4:15 PM. Volunteers may begin at any time in the semester but are asked to commit to the program for the remainder of the semester.
- 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.
If you are interested in participating in the Conversation Partner program, apply now!
If you have any questions, please contact Chris Reid at firstname.lastname@example.org or 803-777-4802.
Be a Tutor
The Tutoring Center at English Programs for Internationals is always looking for qualified tutors. If you have a Masters Degree in TESOL or a related field or have had other relevant training and experience teaching English to non-native speakers, we invite you to apply. Graduate students at USC who are training to teach ESL students or have taught ESL in the past are particularly well-suited to this position. Tutoring sessions are half an hour each and run Monday through Friday. If you are interested in becoming a tutor or learning more about the position, contact Mark Stiteler, Tutoring Center Coordinator.