Share your wisdom and connect with a younger generation.
Conversational Connections is an intergenerational and intercultural program that helps international, exchange, and first-generation students improve their English language skills.
As a volunteer, you will be matched with a student and provide them with opportunities to practise their conversational English in an out-of-classroom situation. Matches are usually made in the first month of each term (September, January, and May), and sessions are scheduled for one hour per week. You will serve as an English language resource and motivator – you’ll keep students talking, address their questions, and boost their confidence!
Conversational Connections is a collaborative program between Programs for 50+ and Community Engagement and English Language Support (ELS), a unit of Ryerson University’s Student Learning Support.
How to Become a Conversational Connections Volunteer
- Fill out an intake form. The intake form indicates your interest in the program, tells us a little about yourself, and provides us with a way to reach you. Complete the form online or in person in room CED 313T of the Chang School building at 297 Victoria Street.
- Complete an interview/orientation. The face-to-face interview/orientation will take place after the intake form has been reviewed. It is a way for us to review the requirements for the position, clarify the contents of your application, tell you more about the program, and answer any questions you might have. Interviews/orientations are approximately 45–60 minutes long, and take place on the 3rd floor of the Chang School building at 297 Victoria Street.
Frequently Asked Questions
What level of commitment is required?
Conversational Connections is intended to be a flexible program. Volunteers meet with their students for approximately one hour per week over a single term (Fall, Winter, or Spring/Summer), although some partnerships continue for more than one term. Extended partnerships are at the discretion of the volunteer.
Am I guaranteed a volunteer opportunity?
No. Unfortunately, we can’t guarantee a volunteer role for you, either immediately or in the future. The number of students fluctuates each term, and it is the number of students which determines the number of volunteers needed.
Do I have to provide a police reference check?
No. A police reference check is not required to be a Conversational Connections volunteer.
Will I get to meet other Conversational Connections volunteers?
Yes! We plan for volunteers to come together to meet and share ideas once per term (in the Fall, Winter, and Spring/Summer terms).
What curriculum do I have to cover?
There is no curriculum for the Conversational Connections program. Students who register with English Language Support at Ryerson University are asked to think of how they can best utilize the time they spend with a volunteer. Once matched, areas of common interest between volunteers and students are easily found.
Where are Conversational Connections meetings held?
Some matches meet in coffee shops, or in student lounge space on campus. English Language Support has space that may be reserved on a regular basis each week, but space cannot be guaranteed.
How are meetings set up?
Your first meeting is organized through English Language Support (ELS). At this meeting, emails and/or phone numbers are exchanged so that volunteers and students can arrange future meet-ups.
What if my student wants to meet for more than one hour per week?
Your required commitment is one hour per week; any meeting time beyond this commitment is at your discretion.
How long do the matches last?
The matches are intended to last for approximately 8–10 weeks over one, or possibly two, terms (Fall, Winter, or Spring/Summer). This allows for more students to be able to participate in the program.
What if I need to cancel a meeting?
Life happens. Do your best to provide at least 24 hours’ notice for the cancellation to your student.
What if I need some advice or have additional questions?
We’re here for you. If you have any questions or concerns about your experience, you are encouraged to reach out us at any time.
English Language Support
Chris Brierley: 416-979-5000, ext. 4064
Programs for 50+
Can I provide feedback about my experience?
You are welcome to provide feedback at any time. Your feedback is always greatly appreciated, so feel free to check in and give updates on your meetings. At the end of the term, you will also be asked to provide feedback about your experience. This feedback is confidential and will be used for program evaluation.
Can I leave the program if I don’t like it?
Yes. You are under no obligation to keep volunteering if you are unhappy in your role or are no longer able to commit to the program. However, we ask that you speak with Programs for 50+ and English Language Support before deciding to leave.
Contact Programs for 50+ and Community Engagement