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 provide support to serve as conversation facilitators supporting 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 learn: 

  • 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 work 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 acquisition 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 the Fall and Spring on Tuesday evenings  both on-campus and at an off-campus site in New Brunswick, and
  • serve at 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 Coordinator at

Program Outcomes

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

Program Personnel

Dr. Mary Curran, Associate Dean for Local-Global Partnerships, Graduate School of Education

Amy Michael, Senior Program Coordinator, The Collaborative

Claudio Mir, Program Coordinator, The Collaborative

Jessie Curtis, Part-Time Lecturer and Doctoral Candidate, Graduate School of Education

Xiaowen Qiu, Program Coordinator, The Conversation Tree 

Contact Information

E-mail for more information.