International Students Teach Their Native Language Through New UNK Curriculum

KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) – For many international students, learning English is part of their education at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

They improve their language skills by communicating with professors, staff and other students.

A new program reverses those roles, giving international students a chance to be the experts teaching their native language to others.

Launched last month, the weekly non-English conversation tables are a partnership between UNK’s Department of Modern Languages ​​and the Office of International Education. Every Thursday from 4-5 p.m., campus and Kearney-area community members are invited to stop by the Nebraska Student Union food court to meet international students from various countries.

Each table has a specific designation – Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian or Spanish – allowing participants to choose the language they wish to practice or learn. About 20 international students volunteer as table leaders who guide conversations in a fun and relaxed environment.

Chris Jacobs, an assistant professor in the Department of Modern Languages, came up with the idea for the non-English conversation tables after participating in a similar UNK program that allows international students to practice their English skills.

“It’s a great opportunity to turn things around and give another group of students/learners a chance to practice languages ​​while bringing people from different countries and cultures together,” said Jacobs, who teaches French. , Italian and Spanish.

The program has obvious advantages for students studying a foreign language, and it is also open to beginners who want to learn the basics. Participation is free and no pre-registration is required. Each week, one lucky participant will win a food basket representing one of the available languages.

Conversation tables are also a valuable experience for international students. That’s why the Office of International Education “immediately jumped on board” when Jacobs pitched the idea.

“We are always looking for ways to help our international students engage and interact with the Kearney campus and communities,” said Tracy Falconer, Associate Director of the Office of International Education. “It’s an amazing opportunity for them to connect with other students and community members while sharing their language, culture and a bit of themselves with the people they meet.”

Non-English conversation tables will continue until May 5.

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