For the seekers, becoming conversational in English gives these English-language learners entrée to better jobs and more advantages for their children, who can also participate in programs.
For the fluent English speakers, these conversations give them an opportunity to be part of America’s bilingual community—even if they themselves are not bilingual. At the same time, the conversations offer a chance for English speakers to learn some of the language of their conversation partner. They can begin with simple courtesies—hello, nice to meet you, thank you. We call these buds of bilingualism. And if native-English speakers struggle a bit getting the words right, that’s okay. It will help to put their conversation partner more at ease.
For both speaker and seeker, Conversation Corps activities can provide a sense of belonging plus the satisfaction that comes with being heard. In learning another language, or learning about another language, conversation partners also come to appreciate each other’s cultures.