The Conversation Tree

Program Description

Launched in Spring 2012, The Conversation Tree: Community-Based Language Partnerships (formerly SALSA) is a program created by Rutgers Graduate School  of Education and The Collaborative Center for Community-Based Research and Service. Students are prepared through academic coursework to engage as conversation facilitators in collaboration with local community organizations offering English as a Second Language (ESL) services. Rutgers students participate in The Conversation Tree through academic courses offered in the Graduate School of Education where they are exposed to:

  • demographic trends in the United States and New Jersey;
  • an introduction to second language learning theory and a funds of knowledge approach to learning and teaching;
  • how to respectfully interact and build relationships with culturally and linguistically diverse community members;
  • reinterpretations of civic engagement, community and citizenship in a global age; and
  • practical skills, such as how to design language activities.

The Community-Based Language Learning course is offered in the Spring and Fall semesters. More information can be found here.

Students new to The Conversation Tree:

  • attend the required 05:300:406 Community-Based Language Learning course that meets in in the fall and spring semesters and
  • join a Community Partner site for approximately 2 – 2.5 hours for 8 weeks (a minimum of 20 hours).

For more information, please email the Program Director,

Program Outcomes

Since The Conversation Tree’s launch in Spring 2012, more than 150 Rutgers student facilitators and 84 community facilitators have served over 7,690 hours interacting with more than 1000 community members at a total of twelve different Community Partner sites. One of the program outcomes has been the development of a model for teaching and learning English called the Conversation Café, which provides opportunities for people who are new to English to interact with English speakers who have been prepared for intercultural conversations.  Read about one of our Conversation Café’s featured in in the Daily Targum here.

Program Personnel

Dr. Mary Curran, Director of Local-Global Partnerships, Graduate School of Education

Amy Michael, Associate Director, The Collaborative Center for Community-Based Research and Service

Contact Information

E-mail for more information.

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