Get Involved with UCAELI
Who are Conversation Partners?
Conversation Partners are people of all ages who are interested in meeting people from different cultures. Previous volunteers have included local middle school and high school students, university students and staff, and other members of the community. Informal conversation with fluent English speakers is an important aspect of learning the language. Students need to hear "real" English and practice with their peers in personal and informal settings. Many of our previous students and Conversation Partners have formed lasting friendships. Volunteering to be a Conversation Partner is a way to experience another culture without ever leaving the Storrs campus. Who knows, you may end up visiting our students in their countries someday!
What do Conversation Partners do?
Conversation Partners play an important role in UCAELI students' English education.Partners who join Conversation classes will be directed by a UCAELI instructor on how to participate in each class. Generally, partners will be placed with a small group of UCAELI students who will have some questions or conversation strategy to practice. There may be some cultural topic chosen as the focus for the conversation or the students may choose a topic of their own. The only requirement of volunteer partners is to speak only in English. Conversation Partners may join classes regularly or just once or twice. The UCAELI Coordinators will need to know in advance about volunteers' level of commitment so that teachers will know who to expect for each class. Coordinator emails are listed below under each program opportunity.
What are the opportunities for Conversation Partner volunteers?
There are two programs that need Conversation Partner Volunteers:
1) Intensive English Program (IEP)
– This UCAELI program is for adult learners of English who are mostly between 18 –24 years of age. Many of these students are preparing to enter a college or university in the U.S. Others are improving their English skills for professional purposes or simply to be able to communicate better. This program is offered year-round in three sessions. Students in the program study English 22 hours per week from Monday through Friday.
Option A: Partners are needed to join Friday Conversation Classes for one hour from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. A UCAELI instructor facilitates the class, so no preparation or previous experience is needed. The classes meet in the Bishop Center. To register, please contact: email@example.com
Option B: A one-on-one program called Cross Cultural Connections is coordinated through the UCONN Community Outreach department. In this program, volunteers will be matched with a UCAELI IEP student for a full semester to meet at times that are mutually arranged. Informal meetings usually take place once a week for an hour at various locations on campus. This is a good opportunity for people interested in language exchange.
Those interested in this program can contact the coordinators of Cross Cultural Connections at: firstname.lastname@example.org
2) Summer English Experience (SEE)
Students between the ages of 13 and 17 live on campus during a four week English Study/Exploring Culture Program that takes place from mid-July to early August. This is a three-week summer program.
The itinerary for this program changes each year. Partners are usually 13 to 17 years old. They may join classes, outdoor activities on campus and some local trips. UCAELI instructors facilitate all classes and activities.
For questions contact Lena Dillman:
- Email: email@example.com
- Phone: 860-486-2127
Are you interested in hosting an international student? Please contact Lena Dillman at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Question 1: Am I required to provide meals to students?
Answer: NO. This is your choice, however if you are willing to do so, many students prefer to have their meals supplied by the hosting families. A typical day within a homestay providing meals is as follows: Breakfast can be prepared by the student, as it does not require cooking skills. The host or student will pack a lunch to take to campus upon mutual agreement. Dinner will normally be prepared by the host. The student will eat with the rest of the family. The student will be included in compiling the shopping list and/or visiting the supermarket. If families choose to provide food for the student, the student will pay $850 a month and if families choose not to provide food the student will pay $650 a month.
Question 2: How long does the average student/guest stay?
Answer: Generally between 1 semester (approx 4 months) and 2 years.
Question 3: Do you check out the student?
Answer: Yes, we obtain home address information, identification, and more. International students go through a screening process in their home country in order to be granted student visas by our embassies.
Question 4: Do the Homestay rates include utilities, and which utilities?
Answer: YES, all homestays include all basic utilities; such as water, cable, internet, electricity, heat and hot water. Telephone is not included, but it is up to you. Most students purchase pay-by-minute cell phones when they arrive.
Question 5: What areas of my home should the student have access to?
Answer: The student should have access to common areas of the house; living room, bathroom, garden, etc. You may need to teach the student how to use laundry machines and kitchen appliances. For laundry, use of the machines, soap and fabric softener are included. For the kitchen, use of pots and pans, appliances, dishes and space in refrigerator and freezer as well as cabinet space are included.
Question 6: If I have a furnished one bedroom or two bedroom suite in the house, is this suitable?
Answer: YES, it must be fully furnished, have good heating for the winter and ventilation in the summer. Furniture should include a bed with adequate sheets, pillows and blankets, a dresser, closet and desk.
Question 7: If the student would like to leave earlier than the agreed upon time period, what should be the arrangement?
Answer: The student/guest should give the host four-weeks prior notice upon finding alternative accommodations or vice versa, unless it is an emergency whereby a two-week notice or less should be sufficient.
Question 8: How will the student pay me?
Answer: The student/guest is expected to pay the monthly Homestay fee to you directly in cash or by personal check upon arrival in advance for the upcoming month. Please note that it may take a week or so for the student to get a bank account set up and for transferred money from home to come through. We do not recommend students carry cash to pay the Homestay upon arrival.
Question 9: What do I do when the student arrives?
Answer: To a student/guest, first impression is very important; therefore, we highly recommend that you take the time out of your busy schedule to show your new student/guest around your neighborhood and show them where to catch the bus, how get school, etc. Some students would also like to open a bank account at a bank branch nearby or get to know how to do their basic shopping.
As host, you also need to show your guest or student around your home and let them know how to use your kitchen equipment, laundry machines, and give them tips on how to stay safe in and outside your home and what to do in case of any emergency. Students normally get very busy later one when they start school, so the first week is a great time to bond and get know each other.
Question 10: Can I be a Homestay host even though I am a single person/have a non-traditional home?
Answer: YES, American families come in all shapes and sizes.
Question 11: I don't live next to campus, am I still eligible to be a host?
Answer: Yes. Many students prefer to live within walking distance of campus. Fifteen minutes walking time to campus is preferred, proximity to the Willimantic bus line is also acceptable for students who would manage their own transportation. Some hosts do not live within walking distance or on the bus line. In this case either the host would provide transportation to campus or the student would buy their own car (a rare situation). Classes generally run 9:00 - 3:00pm on weekdays.
Question 12: This is something my family would like to do, what should I do next?
Please contact the UCAELI office to obtain the application form or to ask more questions about the program.