The Program in Intensive English is offering the NAU campus an opportunity to participate in a language or cultural exchange with the launch of a Conversation Partners Program.

A kick-off inaugural Conversation Partners Meet and Greet will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 14, in Havasupai rooms A and B in the University Union.

The program matches foreign language speakers with native English speakers to practice conversation or exchange cultural observations with one another. The program also falls in line with one of NAU’s strategic goals—to cultivate a university community that promotes awareness of a diverse and changing world.

“The Conversation Partners will provide NAU students with real-world connections to new cultural and linguistic experiences right here on the NAU campus,” said Joseph Collentine, chair of the Department of Modern Languages. “The program shows domestic and international students that globalization at NAU is far from being an abstract phenomenon.”

The language exchange will partner English speakers who are learning another language with native speakers who are learning English. For example, a PIE student who is a native speaker of Arabic would be matched with a native English-speaking student of Arabic from the department of Modern Languages. Each student will have a chance to practice speaking the language they are studying with a native speaker. Students in Arabic classes, and possibly others, will receive extra credit for participating in the semester-long program.

Cultural exchange partners will match American and international students based on their mutual interest in learning about other cultures and interacting with students from a different home country.

Faculty and staff are welcome to become Conversation Partners too—the program’s first priority will be to match students, but they will try to include anyone who would like to be involved. Instructors who teach courses where contact with international students would help to support the curriculum should contact the program’s Student Activities Coordinator Betsy Buford at Betsy.Buford@nau.edu or call (928) 523-7356.

“One of the elements I’m looking forward to most is creating a forum in which students can break down stereotypes and learn about each other as individuals rather than as members of a group from somewhere across the world,” Buford said.

About 200 of the more than 800 international students on the NAU campus this semester are enrolled in the English department’s Program in Intensive English, housed under the College of Arts and Letters. The program focuses on three types of students—students who do not meet English language requirements, students who do but seek further support and students who want to improve their English but not seek a degree from NAU.

“We are very excited about this program that fosters interaction between PIE students and other NAU students on campus,” said Bill Crawford, director of the Program in Intensive English. “We hope that the Conversation Partners program helps our students realize that they are a vital part of the entire NAU community.”