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Winter 2020 Circles run February 3 - April 19

Registration begins January 27, 2020. 

We are happy that you are considering joining an ELI Conversation Circle! All current students, scholars, researchers, and post-docs at the University of Michigan are welcome to join. 

Conversation Circles are a great way to practice English. You will meet people from around the world and get an insider’s perspective to the USA. 

Please read this important information and then sign up for a Circle via the links at the bottom of this page



  • You must commit to attending all Conversation Circle meetings. Participants who miss more than two meetings or who miss a meeting without notifying their facilitator may be dropped from their Conversation Circle. This is a voluntary program, but the success of a circle depends on regular participation by all members. If your schedule changes so that you can no longer attend your circle, please let us know. We often have waitlists!
  • Conversation Circles are only open to current U-M students, scholars, researchers, post-docs, faculty, and staff at the University of Michigan. Spouses, partners, and friends without official U-M status are not included, sorry. 
  • Conversation Circles are not English lessons! They do not follow any lesson plans or grammar books. They are an opportunity for you to use English in a real-life setting: making small talk, ordering food, hanging out at parties. If you would like to work on your grammar, writing, pronunciation, etc., ELI offers courses for this. Please contact our academic advisor:
  • Conversation Circle facilitators are not teachers or editors. You should not ask them for help with papers or other school work.
  • Conversation Circles are not a dating service. They are an opportunity for casual socializing in the the group. 
  • Conversation Circles are fun, informal, and free!



Tips for Successful Language Practice 

1. Take Charge Of Your Own Learning

  • If you don’t understand something, ask for an explanation immediately — it’s your responsibility to let your facilitator know when something isn’t clear.
  • Feel free to ask your partners to repeat, explain or translate when you don’t understand something — this is the whole reason behind this language exchange: for you to be able to follow the conversation and participate!
  • Instead of looking up vocabulary words in your electronic dictionary, try asking the other person to explain what the word means in English.
  • Ask your partners to slow down if they speak too fast.
  • Make an effort to speak out, even if you’re shy.

2. Be Sensitive to Other Circle Members’ Needs

  • When speaking English, please keep in mind that you’re doing this so that everyone can practice — encourage everyone to participate, and make sure they can follow the conversation.
  • Explain, repeat, write down or translate when necessary, and slow down if other Circle members ask you to.
  • If someone says a word that you don’t understand (because of inaccurate pronunciation, for example), just ask them to write it down. Practice pronouncing it as a group, to make sure everyone’s saying it correctly. Pronunciation is important!
  • Encourage those who are too shy to speak. For example, you can ask: “What do you think, Lolita? You’ve been very quiet.”

3. Be Considerate

  • Speak loudly and clearly — think about how you speak when you’re giving someone your address over the phone.
  • Give everyone a chance to speak — don’t monopolize the conversation.
  • Develop a listening attitude.
  • Allow others their point of view — you can comment, but don’t judge.

4. Communicate!

  • If you have ANY questions or comments, let us know! We try to make Conversation Circles as flexible as possible. If you need to change Circles, let us know. If you haven’t heard from your facilitator, let us know. If you want more time in Conversation Circles, let us know. We are more than happy to make exceptions, make phone calls, and make changes to make you happy… but we have to know what to do!
  • You can always e-mail with questions or comments.

(Adapted from