Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan


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English Language Center hosts Conversation Partners

Elizabeth Pulanco/Winonan

For international students, speaking and learning English is crucial when coming to the U.S. to continue their education. Winona State University’s English Learning Center provides students with the opportunity to gain these skills.

In the Haake Hall Conference Room, the English Language Center, or the ELC, hosted a Conversation Partners event where international students would practice their English with native English speakers.

Katie Subra, ELC Specialist, helped plan the event and gather both international students and American students together.

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“This event is a staple component with the speaking classes,” Subra said. “It has been around for several years, but over the past three years it has become a primary event.”

Subra also mentioned how instructors are always looking for more opportunities for the students to practice their English skills, and the Conversation Partners events provide this opportunity.

Many Conversation Partner events have different themes. Some nights are game nights while others are more debate-like. This event was a trivia night. Each table had pieces of paper with facts about the countries where this year’s ELC students originate.

The students currently in the ELC program are from Saudi Arabia, China, South Korea, Morocco, Sri Lanka and Taiwan.

While the event took place, world maps were handed out to each table. Through out the night, international students were pointing out their countries to the American students.

At the beginning of the night, many students stuck with individuals from their own country. Subra and the other instructors encouraged the students to socialize and move around different tables. As the night continued, conversations filled the room as students began to get to know each other.

For the international students, practicing their English skills was not the only positive thing about participating in this occasion.

“I love sharing my culture,” Kyungbin Min, a student from South Korea, said. “I also like getting advice about being a student.”

Mosen Alsaffar, a student from Saudi Arabia, also enjoyed the social aspects of this event.

“It’s good to talk with people,” Alsaffar said.

Although this event is meant to help build the English skills of international students, the American students were able to benefit from this experience as well.

Junior Melody Sheppard discussed how this event helped develop her worldview.

“I love being able to help people practice English, and learn about their culture,” Sheppard said. “It broadens my horizons.”

Senior Katelyn Murray, who learned about this event from a professor, had similar feelings about the experience as well.

“It’s fun to learn about students not from here, and it’s always fun meeting new and different people,” Murray said.

One of Subra’s favorite things about this event is seeing the interactions between the international and the American students.

“It’s wonderful watching relationships grow between students of different nationalities,” Subra said. “People are very curious about each other.”

Friendly chatter between the American students and the international students continued for the rest of the night. After students had run out of trivia facts, they started up easy going conversations.

As the event came to a close, many students stayed and kept talking while people started cleaning up conference room.

Once the conversations ended, both international students and American students promised to return for the Conversation Partners event happening next month.

When the event began, many students were reluctant to start talking to each other. However, as the night carried on, they began to see their conversation partners as friends.

The Conversation Partner nights are not the only fun activities that the ELC has set up for the international students. They also plan trips to Valleyfair and volunteer around the community.

The next Conversation Partners event will take on Oct. 7 and Nov. 4 from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the Haake Hall Conference Room.

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