March 4, 2014
“We want each person involved to feel and act on a sense of commitment to someone else, to broaden their understanding of the people and rich cultures of the world, and to improve their English-speaking and teaching abilities.”
There is a great need among many students around the world to learn and improve English speaking and comprehension. Since the creation of PathwayConnect, this need has become increasingly more apparent. And although PathwayConnect’s Language version is designed to help students improve their English abilities while they study life skills, writing, and math, there is another resource available to help students progress in their language development — the Speaking Partner Program.
Being a Speaking Partner is an Invaluable Opportunity
The Speaking Partner Program was established to provide PathwayConnect students who are developing their English with live, face-to-face, digital interaction with native or near-native English speakers, acting as mentors, for thirty minutes each week.
“We want each person involved in the Speaking Partner Program to feel and act on a sense of commitment to someone else, to broaden their understanding of the people and rich cultures of the world, and to improve their English-speaking and teaching abilities,” said Josiah Carlson, BYU-Pathway student support coordinator.
The speaking partner experience is an integral part of PathwayConnect students’ Language version curriculum for all three semesters. To build upon the PathwayConnect experience, BYU-Pathway encourages Standard version students enrolled in the Basic Writing course to participate as a speaking partner mentor, allowing them the chance to serve other students by helping them apply the very principles they are learning in their current studies.
“When both student and mentor are enrolled in PathwayConnect at the same time, it creates a unique situation where each student can relate insights and experiences based on the same curriculum but from a perspective a world away,” Josiah said. “Basic Writing students are always a welcome addition to the Speaking Partner Program, and they complement the strength that other volunteers continue to bring.”
I learned the importance of being accountable and responsible when someone is relying on me.
Speaking Partners Build Confidence with Practice
When PathwayConnect students who are working to improve their English speaking abilities speak with other students who speak English fluently, the English learner has a unique chance to apply their knowledge and skills in real conversations.
This real-life application helped Citali Luna, a resident of Nealtican, Mexico, and native Spanish speaker.
“For me, speaking in English was really hard,” said Citali. “I used to feel very nervous about it. But after one year of speaking in English with my speaking partner mentor, I overcame those negative feelings. Speaking English is still challenging at times, but now I know that I can communicate my ideas. I know that I am able to do it.”
Elvis Aruhor of Delta State, Nigeria, was also impacted by the opportunity he had to practice English.
“The Speaking Partner Program is one of the most important experiences of PathwayConnect because it gives students the opportunity to hear a native English speaker pronounce words the way they ought to be pronounced. Though I was born and raised in an English-speaking country, my diction has tremendously improved all thanks to my wonderful speaking partner mentors.”
Native and near-native English speakers are also impacted by the chance to learn about other cultures. The weekly thirty-minute meetings increase faith and build relationships.
Speaking partners take initiative to better themselves by building up others. They overcome the barriers of politics, distance, and foreign cultures to create an atmosphere that builds both skills and testimonies.
There are Benefits to Being a Speaking Partner
Twenty-three-year-old Andy Nefuro found great joy and satisfaction as a speaking partner mentor from helping her speaking partners polish their English skills. She knows firsthand the struggles that learning a foreign language can create from the time she moved with her family from El Salvador to live in Alabama for a year. During that time, Andy found herself immersed in English. “The first time I learned English, I really struggled with reading, writing, and speaking,” she said.
When Andy learned about the opportunity to become a speaking partner mentor and help English learners through the Speaking Partner Program, she jumped at the chance. “I realized that these people need someone who can help them. My involvement with Speaking Partners has been one the greatest experiences I’ve had.
It is still hard, but now I know that I can communicate my ideas. I know that I am able to do it.
Andy delighted in seeing the improvements her speaking partners made throughout the semester. Over the years, she has maintained contact with each of them, and she still offers them encouragement from time to time.
Brandon Bednar also participated in the Speaking Partner Program as a mentor in the spring of 2013, and he enjoyed making friendships with PathwayConnect students in other countries. Although Brandon wasn’t the one learning English, he was able to grow from his experience. “I learned the importance of being accountable and responsible, especially when someone is relying on me for help,” he said.
Be a Speaking Partner, Make a Difference
BYU-Pathway Worldwide encourages all PathwayConnect students, regardless of their version, to take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy the rich social and educational experience that the Speaking Partner Program provides.
Each PathwayConnect student has it in them to provide an authentic English-speaking experience for other English-learning students around the world. Their influence and attention will be felt literally around the world.
Do you want to help other students learn English by becoming a speaking partner? Learn more and apply on BYU-Pathway’s website.