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Jeff Petteys, Siena College

09 Nov 2017

When I checked my Spanish syllabus to find a TalkAbroad assignment, I was slightly confused what it meant to be video chatting with a Spanish speaking native. With further explanation, my professor told us that we would be completing a 30 minute conversation pertaining to a certain topic for a grade. In that moment I became terrified because I’m extremely shy. As an introvert, chatting with someone via webcam can be a scary experience within itself, but when it is conducted entirely in a foreign language, my fears were amplified.

So, the day came. When in class, I received a text message from TalkAbroad stating that my “conversation is in 2 hours!”. This didn’t help the nervousness I was experiencing. I was assigned to talk about technology, the pros and cons, what my favorite technology is, what my views are on social medias, etc. Naturally, I prepared two pages of pre-made phrases that I could use when I ran out of things to say. My appointment was at 6:15, but as 6:14 approached, there was nobody on my screen. Sure enough at 6:15, my partner, Nallely, appeared with a bright and cheerful “Hola!!”. I liked how I was able to read biographies of the people that I was able to choose from so my conversation could be with someone that has similar interests. From the second we began talking, my nerves calmed and I was able to speak Spanish. My speaking partner knew, for sure, that I am in the process of learning to speak and apply new vocabulary. She rephrased sentences if I was confused and acknowledged that I seemed nervous. She told me to not worry because everyone is nervous during their first conversation! And before I knew it, our 30 minutes was up and we were saying “Adiós”.

This conversation was an amazing, real-life experience and there is truly no better way to learn languages than to apply them like this. During my conversation, I learned about various aspects of social media in Mexico. Nallely and I were able to connect and laugh together. I was able to relisten to my conversation to see where I did well and where I could improve upon.

I can’t wait for my next conversation in a couple of weeks!!!