Conversation Partner Program

Are you…

  • an international student who wants to practice your English and learn about American culture?
  • a UWM student who wants to help an international student practice English and learn about American culture?

How the Program Works

One international student and one UWM student become conversation partners who meet for one hour each week to talk informally about any topics they are both interested in. The partners can decide when and where to meet. Partners commonly meet for lunch or coffee, and after getting to know each other, often go to events in the city like concerts and tours.

The Conversation Partner Program is beneficial for both partners. It helps international students become more comfortable speaking English and gives them a chance to ask questions they might not feel comfortable asking in class. They can also learn about American culture and gain perspective on what it is like to be a student at an American university. Their partner may also show them around campus and Milwaukee.

The program also gives UWM students the opportunity to get to know a person from another country and learn about another culture without leaving Milwaukee! It also lets the student see what the UWM experience might be like for an international student.

Some students who are learning a second language are able to participate in language exchanges with partners who natively speak that language, allowing the conversations to be half in English and half in the international student’s language.

We hope that the Conversation Partner Program will bring two students together and allow them both to gain perspective and a friend.

For more than 30 years, the UWM ESL Program has run the Conversation Partner Program. As the international student population increases at UWM, we hope that the program will continue to grow and foster important relationships and friendships between students.


If you have any questions about the Conversation Partner Program or want to get involved, contact the Program Coordinators, Joy Foster-Steckler and Slobodan Mladenovic, at or You can also contact us at