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Turning the Tables: Using Non-English Conversation Tables to Create Connections for International Students, Campus, and Community

Abstract

International students, especially those studying in English language institutes at universities in the United States, often struggle to create connections with local students and the host community. Learners of non-English languages also struggle to find opportunities to practice languages that are uncommon in the surrounding community. This Practice Report describes an innovation where, instead of using English Conversation Tables to help international students practice English, professors “turned the tables” and allowed international students to become the experts, teaching local students their languages and cultures at weekly Non-English Conversation Tables held at a mid-sized rural public university. Through the Conversation Tables, both international and domestic students developed meaningful connections, deepening their on-campus engagement. These connections fostered self-growth and intercultural competence in both groups of students, some of whom had very limited prior experiences with cultural diversity. The authors identify the characteristics of the language tables that led to their success, including the location, facilitation, and promotion, to provide a model for reproducing the intervention in other contexts.  

 

Published: 2022-11-29
Pages:29 to 36
Section:Practice Reports
How to Cite
Eckerson, J. ., Jacobs, C. ., Ghazi Saidi, L. ., Mollenkopf, D. ., & Vu, P. (2022). Turning the Tables: Using Non-English Conversation Tables to Create Connections for International Students, Campus, and Community . Student Success, 13(3), 29-36. https://doi.org/10.5204/ssj.2445

Author Biographies

University of Nebraska at Kearney
United States United States

Janet Eckerson is an Assistant Professor of Spanish and Language Pedagogy in the Department of Modern Languages at the University of Nebraska-Kearney, USA, following 15 years as a secondary Spanish teacher.  Her research interests include second and heritage language pedagogy, language teacher recruitment, preparation. on-going professional learning, and leadership, as well as educational policy and practice impacting Latinx students in US schools.

University of Nebraska at Kearney
United States United States

Christopher "C.J." Jacobs is an Assistant Professor of French, Italian, Spanish, and Linguistics in the Department of Modern Languages at the University of Nebraska-Kearney, USA. In this position, he spearheads departmental recruitment efforts, leads study abroad experiences to France and Italy, and runs weekly conversation tables. C.J.’s research interests include second and additional language pedagogy, the influence of motivation and other positive emotions on learning, and promoting real-world readiness through teaching and assessment.

University of Nebraska at Kearney
United States United States

Ladan Ghazi Saidi is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Disorders, College of Education at University of Nebraska at Kearney. She has two lines of research interests; one stream line includes language, bilingualism, cognition and aging, and the other includes effective teaching and student success. In recent years, she has combined her two interests using an intergenerational approach.

University of Nebraska at Kearney
United States United States

Dawn Mollenkopf is a Professor and Director of the Early Childhood Inclusive Education Endorsement program in the Teacher Education Department at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, USA.  Her research interests include technology-based instruction, systems and policy applications, and early childhood teacher workforce development. Her grant partnerships with tribal colleges have supported indigenous populations in college completion.

University of Nebraska at Kearney
United States United States

Phu Vu is an Associate Professor in the Teacher Education Department at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, USA. His research interests include technology-enhanced learning, game-based learning, learning and teaching analytics, gifted education, and English as an Learned Language.

Open Access Journal
ISSN 2205-0795