Instagram Combined Shape quotation Created with Sketch. 69
Potsdam Prepared: Spring 2022 Updates

Becoming an ESL Conversation Partner Tutor

Qualifications: Tutors are usually American or Canadian students from many majors, who are interested in meeting students from other countries.

Training: Students interested in tutoring an international student or non-native speaker may register for ESL 497, Teaching ESL Practicum (3 credits).

  • The goal of the course is to provide experience in teaching English as a second language for Potsdam students who anticipate needing to interact with people from many linguistic backgrounds in their future lives and careers.
  • At the same time, the pairing of students from diverse backgrounds offers the opportunity for a cross-cultural encounter in which students mutually explore each other's society.
  • A series of workshops and seminars help tutors get started and to reflect on their experience through group discussions.
  • Blackboard provides many resources for tutors as well as a virtual classroom in which tutors are expected to participate in weekly discussion of their progress, their difficulties, and their joys.


  • The student tutor will serve primarily as a conversation partner to assist international students or other students for whom English is not their first language.
  • They will also assist those students who urgently need to improve their English language skills in order to succeed as students.
  • Listening and speaking is the predominant need, but reading and writing skills often need to be addressed as well.


  • Conversation partners are often surprised about how much they learn from this tutoring experience about the culture of their partner.
  • Comments typically express feelings such as, "I met someone from outside of my isolated world. I saw my partner become more comfortable with herself and I realized just how much every one in this world has in common?
  • Or, the Conversation Partners Program has "opened so many doors for me!"
  • You might be surprised at how much you learn yourself, and at how much fun you have at the same time, traveling without leaving Potsdam through the conversation partners experience!

Additional Opportunity-ESL Program Internships
: Students have the option of working with the program as interns, helping with the organizational aspects of the program and helping to plan social events and activities as well.

Interns report: "I learned a lot about how to relate to people that will help me in wherever I do" and "I learned a lot about myself, Americans, and international students."