When learning anything new, practice is the most important thing. Learning a language is no exception. But when you’re learning a new language, how do you find someone to practice it with, especially if it’s not the language of your country?
Enter CNA’s Speaking Exchange, connecting students who are learning English and want to practice, with individuals that know English and just want someone to talk to – the elderly in retirement homes around the United States.
Students in the 580 language centers in Brazil take their normal language classes, but now with a twist. As part of the curriculum in some schools, they are now practicing with native English speakers, all through their computer.
Students log onto their computers, connect to the Speaking Exchange program and are matched with individuals in retirement homes. From there, the students and individuals chat (with a list of topics to direct them if they need), and are given the change to connect with more than just their computers.
In their promotional video, one individual in Brazil asked his counterpart at the Chicago Windsor Park Retirement Home, “Are you planning someday to go to Brazil?”
When the gentleman responded that he would like to, the Brazilian offered, “You can stay in my house if you want.”
Other Windsor Park residents offer words of encouragement, advice, and grandparent like affection to the students.
However, this connection is part of the class curriculum, so along with talking and joking with each other, the native English speakers help correct the grammar and pronunciation of the students- helping them learn to speak with the right syntax and diction.
At the end of the conversation, they say goodbye and a recording of the conversation is sent to the teacher, so they can grade how well their students are doing.
“CNA believes that the Speaking Exchange is a project in which everybody wins. A great chance for students to practice English and meet people with lots of stories to tell, as well as an excellent activity so that the elderly feel active and make new friendships” according to the CNA Speaking Exchange website.
Although the project is still in the trial period, it has ever increasing potential. For more information, or to participate visit their website!