Moving to a new city, a new school and leaving home for the first time is difficult for any rising freshman in college. It is especially difficult however for international students who are coming to a new country and learning English as a second language.
Mojo@AU is a program at Auburn University designed to help international students transition to America by introducing students to one another and helping with conversational skills.
“One of the primary benefits of having a diverse student body is the opportunity for students from different backgrounds to learn from each other both inside and outside the classroom,” said Kalani Long, a communications and marketing specialist in the office of international programs. “But those interactions often require intentional fostering to flourish. MojoChat is one tool to help create those interactions.”
The program is a new effort from the university, formed in January 2020 and launched officially in February.
MojoChat, a national program, has been around for a while, helping students make connections and learn English. Auburn University jumped on the train this year, however, so Tigers can benefit too.
International students can register through Mojo Chat at mojo.chat/en where they will be assigned a peer mentor. The students will then sign up for 30-minute sessions to practice their English, Long said.
“The conversations will entail topics of personal importance to the learner and the mentor,” she said. “In other words, the conversations are designed to be natural and free-flowing as any conversation between two people would be. During the sessions, the mentor will be assessing the learner’s conversational speaking skills while MojoChat also analyzes the learner’s performance using data science tools.”
Since the program was online to start with, the coronavirus pandemic has had no effect on Mojo@AU, Long said.
“This program provides all parties involved, domestic and international students, the unique opportunity to create friendships, gain confidence in their conversational skills and build their resumes for future employment,” she said.
Peer mentors are paid for their work but it is also a great resume booster, Long said.
“As a participant in the Mojo@AU program, I am gaining more and more confidence while talking with others in English,” said Chenna Xue, a Ph.D. student in Transportation Engineering. “MojoChat improves my communication skills. I’m currently interviewing with firms, which involves a lot of conversations. With the help of MojoChat, I have learned more about how to effectively communicate with people.
“MojoChat also helps me make new friends. I’m always excited to share my recent stories or experiences with my mentors from MojoChat, and hear about theirs too.”
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