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February 13, 2014

ESL program looking for volunteers

By Tara Harris

@_TaraHarris

Conversation Partners is looking for volunteers. The program allows students whose first language is English to help international students who are learning English as their second language.

Cleveland State University has been offering the intensive language learning program, English as a Second Language (ESL), for the last seven years. Conversation Partners is part of the ESL program and was created by Dr. Michele Bowman, who serves as its director.

“The program helps English learners become accustomed to the English language and culture,” said Reema Abughazaleh, who is the administrative assistant for the ESL program.

The Conversation Partners are always looking for new volunteers each semester.
There are about 30 ESL learners every semester and ideally the program likes to pair each learner with a partner. The student assigned as conversation partner stays with the ESL student for the entire semester.

Conversation Partners meets in public places within the campus vicinity and converse about various interests, everyday issues and events.

Once English language learners complete four semesters with the ESL program and pass language proficiency tests, they can enroll into Cleveland State’s undergraduate or graduate program.

English learner and native speaker of Arabic Nasser Aldossary, plans to major in chemical engineering after his last semester of ESL is complete.

He meets with his conversation partner twice a week in the student center or at a nearby restaurant.

“We talk about the language differences and hobbies,” Aldossary said.

Any student can become a Conversation Partner. They only need to devote one or two hours each week.

“It has absolutely helped me learn the language. I didn’t know much English but now I can successfully speak with anyone,” Aldossary continued.

Abughazaleh encourages students to become conversation partners.

“Students should volunteer because it is a way of learning about different cultures and everyone benefits,” Abughazaleh said.

To volunteer, contact Reema at 216-875-9669 or esl@csuohio.edu