The Jones Library finds volunteers from the local community to help international visitors practice English conversation. They are native English speakers (but not professional teachers) and they meet with students once or twice a week, for about an hour, for one-to-one conversation at the library or in another location that is convenient for both. Conversation practice can be scheduled in the morning, afternoon, or evening, any day of the week (including weekends, if that works best for you.)
Conversation partners are for students who are at a high level of English proficiency (particularly in writing), but may not be accustomed to hearing and speaking English in fast-paced interactions. A conversation partner can help you improve your speaking and listening skills, explain vocabulary and idiomatic expressions, identify speech errors, coach pronunciation, and discuss American culture with you. He/she can also help you figure out how to "get things done" in the United States and participate in local opportunities and events. Conversation partners do not provide formal instruction - they generally do not use textbooks, assign homework, or give tests.
In order to be matched with a conversation partner, you must show that you can stay in touch with the volunteer by phone. You will need a U.S. phone carrier (such as Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, etc.) and you must set up a voice mail account on your phone. Sending and receiving phone messages will be one of the ways that you practice English conversation skills.
How do I apply?
There is a waiting list for conversation partners. It may take several months before you are matched with a volunteer. For this reason, it is not practical for us to enroll students whose stay in the United States will be shorter than 6 months. However, short term visitors are still welcome to participate in our weekly Conversation Circles at the Jones Library.
To apply for a conversation partner, you can either submit a CONVERSATION PARTNER REQUEST online or visit the Jones Library and complete an application in person.
Please call our ESL Center at 413-259-3093 for more information.