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Jessica Norris, University of Texas

29 Jan 2016

I was a first time TalkAbroad user after getting handed an assignment in my University of Texas beginner Spanish course. After taking a whole semester to practice our grammar and vocab, our teacher felt it was time to test our skills with a native speaker.

I chose a young woman who I felt seemed similar to me by being close in age, as well as also a college student. I hoped this would mean we would have things in common and therefore make easy conversation. I had notes upon notes ready in front of me in case there was lull or a time when communication was difficult. As expected, my nerves had me anxious waiting at the computer for my partner to join the conversation.

To my surprise the conversation was neither intimidating nor awkward. My partner was incredibly kind and patient, as well as interesting and fun to talk with. It was clear my Spanish was nowhere near fluency, but Alejandra knew this early on and spoke slowly and clearly to help me through it. After rewording some sentences or even exchanging hand motions, we were able to have a conversation fluidly.

We talked about both enjoying the beach and our favorite actors. We even closed the conversation both in admiration of Gerard Butler and his irresistible accent. Afterward, I felt proud of myself for lasting the whole 30 minutes and that I was even able to communicate effectively with someone in a different language at all. I am now in Spanish II, with two more TalkAbroad assignments on the way. I look forward to having another great experience and furthering my foreign language progress through the emersion this program offers. Besides traveling abroad, which is not always the most realistic for everyone, I believe the ability to have these conversations with native speakers is the greatest and most effective way to learn a new language.