At your first meeting, teach your partner how to say your name and/or a trick to help them remember its pronunciation. For example: Sue sounds like “shoe” but with “s” instead of “sh.” Or, it also sounds like “suit” without the “t.” If you prefer to be called by a nickname, let your partner know that too.
Be patient and persistent to figure out what your partner wants to say. Don’t be afraid to ask for more information about a topic you are not familiar with, or use clarification strategies:
- Say in a different way
- Give an example
- Draw a picture
- Write it down
Be aware of the expressions you use:
- Try to avoid using slang.
- Ask your partner if they know the expressions you are using and write them down if needed.
- Pay attention to your pronunciation and grammar.
- If your partner seems confused, ask them which word or phrase is confusing them.
- Don’t be afraid to ask your partner for help pronouncing a word or using a more natural expression.
- Speak clearly and at a moderate pace
- Ask your partner if you are speaking too fast.
- Make an effort to enunciate slowly and clearly.
Participate equally and share the time you have.
- Some people are more talkative than others.
- Make sure you invite your partner to give their own ideas too.
- Use questions like, “What do you think?” “How about you?” “What about in your country?”
- If you’re often quiet and shy, push yourself to speak.
- Don’t worry about making mistakes, just try! Your partner will help you! That’s why they signed up for this program. They want to learn more about you and your country!
Make sure that the knowledge of the topics are shared
- Some topics you will talk about require cultural background that your partner may not have: sports, TV shows, relationships between family and friends, religious practices, holidays, etc.
- Ask your partner, “Have you heard about this?” “Do you know about this?”
- If you don’t know about something your partner is talking about, ask them to explain in more detail (or with pictures).
Being Culturally Sensitive
Movies, music, and mass media play a huge role in teaching us about other cultures. Unfortunately, they often don’t give us an accurate picture of each other’s lives.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions about each other’s cultures.
- Also, if your partner has a preconception about your culture that you think is incorrect, talk to your partner about it.
- Use yourself and your experiences as examples.
Relax, learn, and enjoy!