Become an Open Doors English Conversation Partner

Join over fifty community members from around Tompkins County and beyond by connecting directly with an adult English language learner online to practice their conversational fluency and build community!

Email conversationpartners.ode@gmail.com to be matched with an ODE student. Then, decide how often you would like to communicate, and if you prefer to video chat, to talk on the phone, or to exchange emails.

Current Partners may find interesting topics and conversation starters from the following resources:

English language learners of all ages benefit tremendously from frequent authentic opportunities to apply their classroom learning through interactions with their community. At the same time, community members also benefit from better understanding the unique global perspectives of our international community.

What started as a creative way to combat social isolation during the COVID-19 Pandemic has blossomed into a community-based network of friendships that has moved far beyond grammar and pronunciation. Our conversation partners enthusiastically reflect enthusiasm and excitement as they learn more about a member of their shared community:


"J---- is wonderful. We spend ½ hour talking on Tuesday and Saturday together.We’ve talked about families, religion, baking, etc. I’ve been helping with pronunciation of one focused thing each time: video, Ithaca, etc." -Margaret


"Since early April I've been having "conversation partner" phone calls with D----, one of OED's advanced students. We speak every other day for a half-hour or more. I look forward to these conversations; they're enjoyable. D---- is wonderful -- smart, funny, kind and charming -- and we talk about life: family, cooking (sometimes exchanging photos of what we've been cooking or baking), reading, the outdoors, our childhoods, etc. It's an interesting thing in this day and age to get to know someone only through the sound of their voice. Looking forward to the end of quarantine to meet in person. What a terrific idea these ODE "partner conversations" are. My "conversation partner" has become a friend. How great is that?!" -Diana


" I---- and I have been communicating via Zoom for the past two months. She is in an apartment in another upstate town, and I am in my house in Ithaca. I---- is able to hold her own with me - I liberally sprinkle my conversation with idioms - and we laugh about the curious way that upstate New Yorkers express themselves. I used the phrase "Blast from the past" and we laughed about that. I could see her writing it down. She will get back to Spain with some colorful language that she will remember our visits by! I---- has a large vocabulary and understands most of what I say. Because I have a little Spanish, I sometimes ask what a Spanish word means, or how one says something - just to even things out." -Wendy


"A---- and I have been conversing every Wednesday and Friday morning, since April 29.We speak for 20-25 minutes each time. It's a great pleasure to get to know A---- , I really enjoy speaking with her. Thanks for the opportunity and stay well." -Candace


"We Zoomed! L---- had not yet signed on at 9:20 for a 9 o'clock meeting so I though it was a bust...but apparently she did not know that she had to input the password. Her daughter helped her. Anyway, a lovely chat ensued and we planned a redo next Tuesday at 9 am. Many thanks for the opportunity!" -Maryann