Looking for a conversation partner to help you practice your language skills?
Fill out the form below, then read over the Conversation Partner Tips to get some ideas on how to make the most of your language exchange!
Conversation Partners is an initiative to connect language learners at the University of Houston.
One of the most effective and motivating ways to develop your language proficiency is by meeting regularly with a conversation partner in a language exchange. Each person in this mutually beneficial arrangement has the chance to learn about their partner's culture and language, which may increase motivation and even result in a friendship. Both partners have the opportunity to practice speaking and listening the language they are learning, and to receive feedback and error correction, if desired.
The most common arrangement is for conversation partners to meet for one hour, once a week, dedicating 30 minutes to speaking in each language. However, other arrangements are possible depending on participants' preferences.
Fill out the form below to be added to the UH Conversation Partners database, maintained by the Language Commons. The LC will pair you with someone who speaks the language you are learning. You will be emailed information about your conversation partner as soon as you are paired with someone.
Conversation Partner Tips
I just got matched up with a conversation partner. What should I do now?
Email your partner and find a weekly time when both of you will be able to meet. You can start by planning to meet for an hour (speaking in one language for 30 minutes, then switching to the other language for the remaining 30 minutes to make sure both partners get lots of time to practice), but feel free to adjust depending on what works for both of you.
In your email or during the first meeting, you might want to talk about your expectations and preferences: how to best stay in touch in case of schedule changes or if someone is running late (by email? by text?); whether or not you want to be corrected and for what kinds of errors (grammatical? pronunciation? vocabulary?). Since the purpose of a conversation exchange is to practice speaking and listening in an informal way, your focus should be on conversing with your partner rather than on getting help with assignments, so ask first what your partner would prefer when it comes to getting homework help.
Where should we meet?
Any public place on campus or coffee shops with minimal distractions and background noise should work. Try Student Center North or South, the group study areas of the library, a café (like the Nook), or outside if the weather's nice.
What should we talk about?
Talk about anything you might talk about with a new person you're getting to know: what you're studying, your family and where you grew up, your hobbies and interests, things that you did or that happened to you recently, current events, or even just the weather. If you are taking a language class, you can bring up topics from your textbook. For example, if your current lesson is on personal characteristics, you can ask your conversation partner how they would describe themselves, or their friends and family. Here are some other conversation starters:
- go to a news or pop culture website and pick out some interesting items to discuss
- ask your partner to teach you slang or other colloquial expressions in their language
- talk about your favorite movies/TV shows/books/music/games
- ask if your partner has experienced culture shock when traveling or living outside their home country or state
- discuss the origin of your names
- talk about the foods, holidays, and customs characteristic of each other's cultures
Things aren't working out with the conversation partner I was assigned.
Contact the Language Commons. We will help match you with another partner if one is available.