Language Resources

ELI Conversation partners

Make a friend who speaks the language you are studying! Learn about the culture and learn about your own culture, too, by helping a foreign student in Gainesville.

The ELI (English Language Institute) is an intensive English language program for international students. Every semester about 150-200 students from all over the world come to Gainesville to join these classes. Of course, it is an "immersion" program: these students must get along on campus and in Gainesville, and they have plenty of opportunities to hear English. The Conversation Partners program adds to this a chance for real conversation with a native speaker of English, on topics of mutual interest.

At the beginning of the semester, ELI students sign up for conversation partners. They are matched with a volunteer (often a UF student) who is an English speaker.

The partners then meet for about an hour a week (they make up their own schedule). They spend at least half of the time speaking in English. If the partner who speaks English is trying to learn the native language of the ELI student, the partners will spend about half of the time speaking in that language. This is a chance to learn the slang, the culture, and the nuances of discussing everyday life.

Many of the students are native speakers of Spanish and Chinese, with Portuguese, Japanese, and Arabic also represented. Some terms there are students whose native language is French or Hebrew. Languages that aren't taught at UF that are frequently represented are Thai, Korean, and Turkish.

For more about the ELI's program, check the webpage for the Cultural Immersion Program.

To volunteer, call the ELI at (352) 392-3354 ext. 230 or (352) 392-2070, or email