ELI Spotlight: Language Exchange

As part of the English Language Institute’s ongoing mission to serve Texas A&M, ELI has partnered with the Arabic and Chinese departments to create the Language Exchange program. This program partners A&M students who are learning a language with ELI students who are native speakers in either Arabic or Chinese. The two students use the skills they already have as native speakers to help their partners practice the language they are trying to learn.

The Language Exchange is now in its second semester of operation. Brandon Cooper from the ELI began collaborating with Arabic’s Dr. Salah Ayari and Chinese’s Dr. Weidong Shi at the start of Fall 2015. “We saw an opportunity to promote diversity and dialogue at Texas A&M University by connecting international and American students through service learning,” said Cooper. “I know that this will be an invaluable experience for everyone involved.”

The Exchange is similar to Conversation Partners, an existing program at ELI. The groups spend half of their time speaking English and half of their time speaking either Arabic or Chinese. During the course of the conversation, the native speaker will help the learner with grammar, pronunciation, syntax, and general oral skills. In addition to basic correction, the groups discuss their lives and home countries, creating bridges between two cultures.

This service learning opportunity allows students to better their language skills while helping someone else who is also trying to learn. Since the groups meet every week for the entire semester, they are able to form bonds and friendships that they might not normally find on campus.

Since 1974, the ELI at Texas A&M University has been equipping international students with the English skills they need to share their knowledge and skills with the university and with the world.