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Stefan Aschutz, Kennesaw State University

01 Oct 2016

To start this off, I’ll share a little about my background. I am a college sophomore taking a conversational German class, and I’m decent at small talk and conversational German. My teacher assigned the class a 30-minute TalkAbroad assignment and, to be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect. Talking to a person who you’ve never met in a foreign language isn’t the easiest thing to do, but I knew if I prepared several questions and selected the right person it shouldn’t be that difficult. TalkAbroad gives you several options of conversation partners and tells you a little about each of them. This lets you pick out who you think you have the most in common with.

I decided to talk to Vera Hark. We had similar hobbies and she seemed friendly enough from her bio. So the morning of the talk arrived, and I brewed a pot of coffee and sat down to begin the conversation. After navigating the website shortly, the webcam flipped on, and I was looking at someone who was thousands of miles away from me! Looking back that was pretty amazing.

The conversation hit the ground running as we introduced ourselves and exchanged informal greetings. I jumped right in and asked Vera about what she likes to do in her free time and she told me a little about herself. She was just as curious about me and asked me about where I go to school and why I was learning German. This much went pretty smoothly because I had spoken about theses things before, but as the topics became more complex I sometimes found myself at a loss for words.

Luckily Vera and I both shared a common passion for rock climbing, so we discussed that for a while and talked about some of the similarities and differences of rock climbing in Germany and America. Throughout the entire conversation Vera was very helpful, and at times when I could not remember a word, she would fill in the gaps for me. We spoke a little more about my hobbies. I believe that was because it was easier for me to tell Vera about things I know about, rather than having to understand things that she tells me that I may not have the prior knowledge or vocabulary for.

One good thing about TalkAbroad is it will show you your strengths and your weaknesses clearly and effectively. When you are talking about something you are comfortable with the conversation flows, but when you venture into new territories, trying to explain something you may not have the vocabulary or knowledge for, you will see the road blocks. That was how it was for me, at least. Not only did I get valuable practice with a native speaker, but I also found several areas where I could improve my German. Since I remember how I stumbled in conversation, all I have to do is go back and review the vocab and sentence structure, and it should be a quick and easy fix. All in all, TalkAbroad is a great way to practice speaking in any foreign language, and I would recommend it for anyone of any skill level!