Time for chai and a chat
International students will get an insight into British culture - and a chance to improve their English language skills - thanks to a new scheme set up by the University of Leicester's Student Welfare Service.
The Language Café pilot scheme will bring members of the local community and international students together to talk about all things British, from sport and food to the Queen and the Diamond Jubilee. Each weekly session focuses on a different aspect of life in the UK, and will give international students the chance to practise speaking and conversing in English with native English speakers.
Elizabeth Cornish, the International Student Integration Co-ordinator at the University of Leicester, is running the Language Café scheme, which will start on Wednesday 18 April 2012. Ms Cornish said:
"It can be very difficult to integrate into a new culture especially when you aren’t fluent in the language. The Language Café is a great chance for international students to develop their confidence in speaking English outside the classroom, while gaining an insight into British culture from our volunteers."
Community members and students have volunteered to take part in the sessions, where they will give short presentations on topics such as leisure, pets, and rules of behaviour in the UK. Most of the time will be given over to informal conversation over a cup of tea, giving international students the chance to practise their English language skills in a comfortable, relaxed environment.
The Language Café pilot scheme is open to international students studying the presessional English language courses, where students study English before starting their degree courses. If successful, the Student Welfare Service plans to continue the scheme and open it up to new students.
The Language Café project follows on from the success of the International Buddy Network, which pairs international students with UK student mentors who can offer help and advice on settling into university life. The network helps international students integrate into the UK, whilst also allowing UK students to enhance their CVs with volunteering and mentoring experience.
Home students from the University of Leicester and members of the local community are invited to volunteer for the Language Café, which takes place on Wednesday afternoons. Ms Cornish said:
"The positive impact volunteering can have on other people’s lives makes it very rewarding. The skills you can gain from volunteering are also an excellent addition to your CV and very attractive to employers."
Students and members of the community who wish to volunteer should contact the Welfare service on firstname.lastname@example.org
The pilot phase of the Language Café will run from 1.30 - 3.00pm every Wednesday afternoon for six weeks, from 18 April to 30 May 2012.
Notes for editors:
For further details on the Language Café project, please contact Elizabeth Cornish on 0116 223 1185 or email@example.com
You can find more information on the University's Student Welfare Service on their website: http://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/ssds/welfare