For students wanting to get a taste of studying abroad or those looking to meet students of different cultures, the Language Partners Program offers students those opportunities.
The program started in 2014 at Minnesota State and has been a mandatory component of the Intensive English Program. Acting Director of the Center for English Language Programs Olga Nelson said LPP started as a way for students to practice English in its natural habitat and expose them to the diverse campus community.
“Initially, most of our partners were from the Honors Program since the Honors students are required to complete a global citizenship component and working with an international student who is a language learner is a great fit,” Nelson said.
This semester, 40 students from countries such as South Korea, Ethiopia and Republic of Congo meet weekly for two hours with an English student volunteer. They discuss weekly topics about music, food and culture from their countries.
LPP Coordinator Dan Greenwood explained the goal of the program is to spark intercultural communication and understanding of different cultures throughout campus.
“Ten percent of our students are international and it bridges the gap between them and our domestic students,” Greenwood said. “It gives students an authentic conversational experience to practice English in a less formal setting.”
Junior Aidan Forberg is a volunteer with LPP. He said his favorite part about meeting with IEP students each week is learning how much he has in common with them.
“When you meet people from different countries, you never know how much you’ll relate to them. It’s cool to see how even though we’re from different countries and speak different languages that there are things we can agree upon,” Forberg said.
Kazi Nishan Hossain is an IEP student from Bangladesh who meets with Forberg. He said being a part of LPP has helped him speak English fluently.
“I’m sometimes confused with English because native speakers speak so fast but when I practice with my language partner, I feel confident,” Hossain said. “When I don’t understand, he speaks slow and explains more.”
Japanese student Kirari Udo also works with Forberg. She said she heard about LPP through her university in Japan and says it’s important for her as a student in the study abroad program.
“It’s a good opportunity to learn English and learn about both Bangladesh and American culture which is interesting to me,” Udo said.
Forberg said students should consider joining LPP as it’s an opportunity to interact with students they might not have spoken to outside of the program.
“I’m meeting with students from different countries who have different majors and we’re not really in the same clubs. Without this program, I don’t think I’d ever meet them and they’re great people,” Forberg said. “It’s been a lot of fun.”
Greenwood encourages students to join the program to gain personal and academic growth.
“MSU is a global community and taking advantage of LPP and getting to know students they wouldn’t otherwise meet is a great opportunity for students to gain perspective,” Greenwood said.
Header Photo: Kazi Nishan Hossain, left, Aidan Forberg and Kirari Udo are all involved in the Language Partners Program which aims to give students intercultural communication and a taste of different cultures around campus. (Dominic Bothe/The Reporter)
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