American Undergraduate Students’ Experiences in Conversational Partnerships with Chinese International Students


  • Takahiro Sato University of Tsukuba, Japan
  • Ryan T. Miller Kent State University, USA



conversational partnerships, international students, positioning, sarcasm language


The purpose of the current study was to describe American domestic students’ experiences interacting with international students in a conversation partner program at an American university. This study used in-depth, semi-structured interviews grounded in positioning theory. Seven American students (three men and four women) participated. They served as conversation partners of Chinese international exchange students every fall semester. Four major interrelated themes emerged from the data. They were (a) seeking strategies for overcoming intercultural communication challenges, (b) addressing challenges for explaining sarcasm concepts, (c) finding mutual hobbies and interests, and (d) integrating field trips into the conversational program. This study encourages academic departments and faculty to develop a study group of conversational partnerships associated with value, origins, languages, and cultures of international students. This will contribute to a greater appreciation of the richness of diversity and to meaningful academic and social experiences at American universities for all students.

Author Biographies

Takahiro Sato, University of Tsukuba, Japan

TAKAHIRO SATO, PhD, CAPE, is a professor and chair of the joint master’s program in International Development and Peace through Sport at the University of Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan. His scholarship and research focus is on Japanese education, multicultural physical education, disability studies, adapted physical education professional development, and diversity in higher education.

Ryan T. Miller, Kent State University, USA

RYAN MILLER, PhD, is an associate professor in the TESL program at Kent State University, Ohio, USA. His research focuses on second language (L2) reading and writing. Within L2 reading, he investigates how reading and reading subskills (e.g., morphological awareness, phonological awareness, lexical inferencing ability) developed in a first language can support reading in a second language. Within L2 writing, he researches development of disciplinary genre knowledge using the tools of systemic functional linguistics


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How to Cite

Sato, T., & Miller, R. (2021). American Undergraduate Students’ Experiences in Conversational Partnerships with Chinese International Students. Journal of International Students, 11(1), 81–102.



Research Articles (English)