English Conversation Circles

Do you want to improve your conversational English and meet new friends? Then the English Conversation Circles (ECC) is the right place for you.  

ECC provides a safe space for undergraduate and graduate English Language Learners (ELL) to practice conversational English with friendly staff and students. This program offers students a place to make new friends and reconnect with old ones. Our facilitators create an environment to share resources for newcomers to Canada and the UWaterloo community, and they encourage and embrace intercultural discussions. The program is a dedicated space for open discussions about Canada, Canadians and the international community, with unique scenario-based activities to help with practicing your everyday spoken English. ECC meets twice per week over a 6-week period each term. Sessions are led by two full-time staff members. 

Fall 2022 English Conversation Circles

The Fall 2022 English Conversation Circles will be held in-person. The program runs from Wednesday, September 28 through Thursday, November 9, 2022 (but not during reading week). Meetings are held each Wednesday from 3:00 - 4:30 p.m. and Thursday from 3:00 - 4:30 p.m. and are not held during reading week (October 8-16, 2022).

Students can register for ECC through Microsoft Teams, and location information will be shared in the Teams channel before the program begins. Participation in the English Conversation Circles is on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Registration for the Fall 2022 English Conversation Circles is full. 

We will run another session in the Winter 2023 term. Check back here or on our social media for more informtaion.

If you have any questions about registration or the program, please contact Jirina K. Poch at jkpoch@uwaterloo.ca


If you're interested in volunteering as a facilitator for the English Conversation Circles, please email Jirina Poch at jkpoch@uwaterloo.ca

Meet the English Conversation Circles Team

Jirina K. Poch – English Conversation Circles Coordinator

As the Workshops and Integrated Programs Coordinator, Jirina is dedicated to the support and facilitation of student learning, specifically with the development, implementation, and delivery of online and in person programming for UG, GRAD, and Postdocs. She completed her undergraduate studies in Language and Literature at the University of Waterloo, and continued her education at Western University, achieving her BEd and MEd with distinction. Jirina is registered with the Ontario College of Teachers and is pursuing her second Masters, in MDEI, to continually support the ever-changing landscape of virtual learning. In addition to working with students, Jirina liaises with faculty instructors to promote course-integrated support options for students writing and communication goals. Prior to her joining the Writing and Communication team in 2013, she has taught academic English in China, travelled the world, and had excursions on the Serengeti.

Asiya Le Jeune – English Conversation Circles Facilitator

Asiya first worked as a hospital pharmacist after obtaining a Bachelor of Pharmacy and a MSc in Hospital Pharmacy (both from the Université de Montréal). She then raised and homeschooled six children using mostly an unschooling approach influenced by a complexity science outlook. Continuing her love of sharing and learning new things, she then worked teaching French and English to Federal Public Service employees, before returning to university to obtain an MA in Applied Linguistics from Carleton University. For her MA, she researched complexity science as it applies to applied linguistics. Asiya also specializes in ESL teaching, particularly online, and is certified by TESL Ontario. She is fluently bilingual (French/English), with knowledge of Spanish and Classical Arabic, as well as other languages, and uses insights gained from these to support learners for whom English is an additional language. Asiya also creates and edits videos and has experience with giving interviews and presentations in real-life situations. Finally, due to her enthusiasm for discovering new things across a wide range of disciplines, from physics to metaphysics, Asiya enjoys supporting people from all backgrounds in their writing and other communications.

Success Stories

Success Story: Interview with Bahareh Shahpar, MEng, Electrical & Computer Engineering

By: Jirina K. Poch, Workshops and Integrated Programs Coordinator

In November 2021 I had an opportunity to sit down and virtually chat with Bahareh Shahpar, Electrical and Computer Engineering, about her experience with the English Conversation Circle program in the fall 2021 term, at the Writing and Communication Centre.  We talked about the program, her motivations to participate in the program, and what she would like to see in the future for the ECC program. These were just a few of the highlights from our 20-minute conversation: 

Jirina: What motivated you to join the program?  

Baharen: “First, improving my English was the motivation. Fulfill this feeling of belonging to a group and be a part of this society.“ 

Jirina: How has ECC helped you fulfill your goals?  

Baharen: “Provide a really friendly environment and I feel connected with [facilitators]. I feel connected with other students.” 

Jirina: What has the ECC program taught you?  

Baharen: ” Taught me about some routines in Canada: expressions that is essentially used in Canada; discussion about buying clothes for Canadian winter; ECC teaches English and daily life for newcomers [to Canada].”  

Jirina: Is there anything you would like to see in the future for the ECC program?   

Baharen:“If it was more than one hour; starts at the beginning of the term and ends [at] the end of the term; longer program can be much more proactive.”

Success story: Interview with Mahsa Parsapour, PhD Electrical & Computer Engineering

By: Jirina K. Poch, Workshops and Integrated Programs Coordinator

In December 2021 I had the opportunity to chat with Mahsa about her experience with participating in the fall 2021 term English Conversation Circles program. Mahsa was looking for opportunities to speak English more often, and was impressed with the feedback she recieved from ECC facilitators. Here are some highlights of our interview:

Jirina: What motivated you to the program?  

Mahsa:“ Before covid, I just attended one in-person session and I really enjoyed it. The problem at the time for me was the timing. It was only on Tuesday afternoon, and I was busy at that time most of the time. Then when it became online; I was looking for a way to speak English more. I was almost isolated and was meeting people who would speak Farsi to me. I felt that my English was not improving speaking-wise so the program helped me to meet some new people and talk in English a little bit.” 

Jirina: What would be your advice to other English Language Learners on campus?  

Mahsa: “I encourage everyone to participate in the program if they have time. It is a good way to connect with some people and learn more about Canada. It is a good place to ask some basic questions like what to buy and where to buy especially for winter.” 

Jirina: What prevented you from attending?  

Mahsa: “I think the [scheduling] conflicts. Right now, it happens twice per week, but unfortunately, I cannot attend it. If we have more options, it would be really good.” 

Jirina: What surprised you about ECC?  

Mahsa: “I think Mary is a very nice person and full of knowledge. I am happy that I met her in this class. I feel more supports should be provided for people like Mary so they can contribute more to ECC. When I talk with other international students, almost all of them are looking for the same program. The problem is timing. I think if there are more support to have people like Mary it would be good. For example, to give them a better space so people can gather together and socialize. To give the budget to organize some events, it would be more engaging for international students.” 

Jirina: How has ECC helped you fulfill your goals?  

Mahsa: “I am always looking for someone to give me feedback on my performance. Mary is a very nice woman who gives feedback and I feel comfortable.” 

Jirina: What has ECC taught you?  

Mahsa: “I think ECC taught me if I want to practice more, I must find the opportunity on my own. There is no one better than me to encourage myself to be good at speaking.”