You say tomayto, I say tomahto…


Yesterday, on my way to class, I overheard a really interesting conversation. This conversation, between three students, was quite heated, and was attempting to define the ideal firmness that a tomato should possess if one were to eat a tomato whole, like an apple. I try not to eavesdrop, but sometimes other people’s conversations are just so much more interesting that the internal conversation in my own mind.

So what’s my point?

Well, as we all know there is a huge part of the student body that are international students. I’ve met a lot of students that are still learning English and are not yet to fully conversational.

What does this have to do with the firmness of a tomato? Well, the tomato conversation I overheard was the highlight of my afternoon. It made me laugh out loud and it  reminded me of how great conversation can be, even when the content of the conversation is so trivial. New speakers of English miss out on such lively conversation with their fellow classmates.

I don’t know why, but I really enjoy helping new speakers of English. There is a magic verbal communication, and when you are able to speak to someone in a language that is not their own and actually achieve a mutual understanding of content, it’s pretty cool!

Case in point, I have an international student living with me for the year. She arrived here one month ago with close to no knowledge of English. She could say hi. In little more than a month, she has, with immersion, become conversational in English. We are connecting verbally and it is so rewarding when she understands my English, and I hers.

I recently came upon an advertisement for The Communication Cafe at New College. This is a conversation group for new speakers of English at U of T. It is open to any student and requires no registration and it’s free!! What’s really great about this group is that it also encourages native English speakers to join in the conversation!

If you really enjoy languages like I do and you find some satisfaction in helping others or if you are learning English here at U of T, then you just might want to pay a visit to the Communication Cafe. The Centre for International Experience also has a communication program for those new speakers of English. You can find more information on their homepage.

The Communication Cafe has a fall schedule currently running at different locations across the campus. The times and days vary so there is a good chance that one of the cafes will work with your schedule.

Who knows what kind of conversation you might find yourself in…perhaps how to eat a lemon whole!


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