Conversation Partner Program Terms

Center for Intensive English Studies Conversation Partner Applicant:

Thank you for your interest in the Conversation Partner (CP) program. Due to the tremendous response that we have had from FSU and the surrounding community, we may not be able to provide partners for all of our volunteers at this time. If you are assigned a conversation partner, you will be notified by e-mail in the near future.

The CP program's purpose is to provide newly-arrived internationals with an opportunity to make an American's acquaintance, one who will willingly spend some time with them conversing and orienting them to FSU, the community, etc., while learning about each others' lives, cultures and goals.

While many volunteers express a sincere interest in forming "acquaintanceships" with international students, I feel obligated to stress the importance of common courtesy, maturity, and responsibility when meeting with your partners. Please consider the following real examples of inappropriate and unacceptable behavior that have occurred with surprising frequency among volunteers who are expecting to receive a grade or addendum to their transcript for participation in this program:

  • Do not use this pairing to proselytize, preach religion and strive to convert our CIES students. This is totally unacceptable behavior and is in defiance of the university's codes of student conduct. Along with this, please do not try to date your conversation partner. Remember that as the American, you are in a position of a host and helper. Please do not take advantage of this in any way to influence your conversation partner. Treat them with respect.
  • Do not use your partner as a chance to only practice your second language! CIES students are here to learn English and learn about the culture of the United States. They are not here to act as a Spanish, Chinese or Korean teacher. Language exchange is fine; just make sure that you are helping your partner develop his/her English and understanding of American culture.
  • Do not treat the international student as an "obligation". CIES students are aware that many volunteers fulfill educational, professional, as well as personal goals through this partnership. That's OK. What is not OK is to insult CIES students by making them think that your only purpose is to put in the time and neglect politeness completely. Some volunteers go so far as to actually say, "I have to talk with you for 60 minutes, and time's up." Smooth entry and exit are part of the experience. Just employ common courtesy.
  • Do not wait until the last two weeks of the semester and attempt to squeeze your "required hours" into one or two meetings. If for some reason you are unable to meet with your partner for a period of time during your commitment, please communicate with them to make other arrangements. Again, this is a point of courtesy.
  • CIES cannot guarantee that you will be able to fulfill your "required hours" through participation in this program. While many partnerships created through this program continue for semesters and even years, personal and cultural incompatibilities have arisen between individuals during semesters and inevitably result in waning interest and involvement. Please have a back-up plan, with another organization, perhaps, if you must complete a certain number of hours for your class, job, etc. While human problems on both sides prevent 100% success of this program, we hope that by addressing these issues in an honest, up-front and forthright manner we can minimize their future occurrence. Please let me know if you have any questions, concerns or reservations about participating in the program.

This program is a great one when entered into by both parties with a spirit of international friendship, cross-cultural learning and cross teaching. Please check the box at the top of the Online Application acknowledge that you have read the guidelines above and agree to abide by them. Thanks again for your interest.

Claire Sipple
Conversation Partner Coordinator

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