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Emily Lo, The College of New Jersey

28 Jan 2018

My first experience using TalkAbroad was memorable and something I can say I have never experienced before. It was almost like a virtual pen pal, except instead of exchanging letters, you video chat another person from a country that may be on the other side of the world from you! How cool is that?

I signed up for this program for my intermediate Spanish course where the conversation assignment was about family, daily routines and clothing. These were the lessons I already learned during class, which we applied in a real conversation. I talked with Gabriela, who was from Quito, Ecuador, and we exchanged pleasantries in the days leading up to the conversation. I expressed to her how I was nervous, but excited to meet her and she said not to worry about being nervous and that she too was excited to meet me. That helped me calm down a little before the day of the conversation.

When it came time for the conversation, I was still a bit nervous but when Gaby’s face popped up to greet me with her smile, I became a lot more relaxed and went with the flow of the conversation. I think I spoke a lot better than I thought I would for the first time, and my experience with Gaby helped a lot, as she was excellent partner for this conversation.

She spoke at a pace where I could clearly understand every word she was articulating and always repeated things if the audio connection was a little wonky. She understood my Spanish well and was able to help correct some of the tenses I may have misspoken by utilizing the chat to help me see my mistakes. All the while, she kept the conversation going with a constant flow of questions and comments and we found some commonalities between us like favorite movies, such as V for Vendetta (or V de Venganza in Spanish) and favorite foods. I was able to learn so much more about her in span of 30 minutes than I thought I would, specifically the similarities and differences we share having grown up in two different countries with different cultures and backgrounds.

If my future TalkAbroad conversations are anything like my first conversation, then I have a positive outlook in the next few conversations. This is something every person who is learning a new language should try if they really want to test their language skills and immerse themselves in the culture behind the language. I highly recommend it!