Pal Program FAQs

Common Questions from Domestic Students:

I’m a domestic student and only speak English. Do I need to speak another language to participate in the Pal Program?

No, you don’t.  In fact, in some ways it’s better if you don’t speak the same language as your international partner, since one of the main goals of the Pal Program is to help your international partner feel more comfortable speaking English in an informal setting.  That said, it’s always helpful if you speak slowly and clearly at first until you both get a better sense of your international partner’s level of ability.  

I sometimes make mistakes with my grammar. Do I have to speak English perfectly to be a Pal?

No.  Very few people have perfect grammar, especially when they’re talking informally with friends.  Your Pal will appreciate finding out how young people talk on a casual, day-to-day basis, since this is what they will mostly encounter while they’re at UCD.  

Do I need any teaching experience to work with my Pal?

No.  In fact, it’s best if you keep corrections to a minimum with your Pal.  As you get to know each other better, and if your Pal specifically asks to be corrected, you can do this occasionally, especially if they make a consistent error.  The most important thing, though, is to have a fun and interesting conversation!    

My Pal and I have had difficulty finding a mutually convenient time to meet. What should I do?

Of course there will be times when one or the other - or both - of you are just too busy to meet.  That’s fine, as long as you do your best to make up the time later (perhaps adding an extra 10 minutes to each of your next few meetings, or meeting a couple of times during a slow week).  However, the regularity of the meetings is more important than keeping track of each minute.  As long as you both make an earnest effort to get together on a regular basis, that should be fine.  If the problem is persistent, please email palprogram@ucdavis.edu

Can my Pal and I email instead of meeting in person?

No.  Emailing each other is fine to set up a time to meet or just to say hello, but the main object of Pal is for both of you to have personal interaction through in-person conversation.

Are there any topics of conversation that I shouldn’t bring up?

Use your discretion.  In general, you should avoid the same kinds of personal or controversial topics you would with any new acquaintance, including religion, money, personal relationships.  Later, depending on how well you get to know each other, these topics may become appropriate.

Common Questions from International Students:

I make a lot of mistakes in English and get embarrassed. Will my Pal mind?

The Pal Program is not an English class – it’s an opportunity to practice informal conversation with a native English speaker without being judged or graded.  Don’t be afraid to make mistakes!!!  Domestic students who sign up for the Pal Program are interested in meeting someone from a different country and culture.  They will be much more interested in what you say than how you say it.  Of course, you can ask your Pal to correct mistakes now and then, but the main thing is to have fun and feel more comfortable speaking English.   

Sometimes, I don’t understand what my Pal partner is saying but I don’t want to be rude and ask them to explain. What should I do?

Don’t be embarrassed!  It isn’t rude to ask your partner to repeat or explain something.  The U.S. students who sign up for the Pal Program are genuinely interested in helping you with your English speaking and comprehension.  They will be happy to explain things.  Your partner may be unaware that they are speaking too quickly or using unfamiliar words or slang, so asking them to explain will help them become more aware and learn more about their use of language, too.

My Pal partner and I have had difficulty finding a mutually convenient time to meet. What should I do?

Of course there will times be times when one or the other - or both - of you are just too busy to meet.  That’s fine, as long as you do your best to make up the time later (perhaps adding an extra 10 minutes to each of your next few meetings, or meeting a couple of times during a slow week).  However, the regularity of the meetings is more important than keeping track of each minute.  As long as you both make an earnest effort to get together on a regular basis, that should be fine. If the problem is persistent, please email palprogram@ucdavis.edu

If you have a question that is not on this list that you think should be added, please contact the Pal Support Team at palprogram@ucdavis.edu