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Anna Balch, Denison University

22 Jan 2017

I found TalkAbroad through my professor as it was a class requirement to complete five thirty-minute-long sessions. Before this semester, my knowledge of German came from two very basic, intro level German courses at the university level. Needless to say, my knowledge of the language was definitely limited thanks to limited practice with conversation.

Going into my first TalkAbroad session I was incredibly nervous and uncomfortable. I didn’t know what to expect and I had absolutely no idea how my limited knowledge of the language would get me through a thirty-minute conversation. Fortunately for me, all of my stress was relieved about five minutes into the conversation. I quickly realized just how patient my conversation partner was and how she was only willing to help me improve. This helped me relax quite a bit and allowed me to focus on the task at hand. I ended up struggling through the conversation asking for help quite often however, I made it through the conversation with plenty to work on for next time.

Three months later, I’ve just finished my fifth and final TalkAbroad and the difference between session one and session five is incredible. Each conversation I saw a little improvement until finally I was able to make it through my last conversation with ease. In comparison to that first conversation, I rarely had to ask for help. I was able to joke around and have fun rather than worry about whether I was saying things correctly or not. Without the relaxed environment TalkAbroad offers and the helpful conversation partners, this amount of improvement never would have been possible.

Having studied in a country where I barely knew the language, I understand the importance of being able to speak informally and in a more conversational setting than a classroom. TalkAbroad allowed me to practice just that by taking me out of the classroom to a fun and relaxed environment, one that mimics what one might experience abroad. I feel confident that if I chose to travel to a German-speaking country, my experience with TalkAbroad will benefit my ability to transfer all that I’ve learned from the classroom to my conversations abroad.