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Haley McAllister, Franklin and Marshall College

19 March 2018

My partner in my French TalkAbroad conversation was named Paterne Yao. He was originally from the Ivory Coast, but he moved to Paris, France when he was 27. He did a great job of acting out his words to help me comprehend difficult vocabulary. Paterne was very fun to talk to and he made me feel like I was having an actual discussion, instead of a somewhat-scripted homework assignment. In addition to being very upbeat and friendly, he refused to respond unless I spoke in French. At one point, I forgot what the word “tomorrow” was, and he made me describe the word in French before he gave me the correct term. Although it made me nervous being put on the spot, it was eye-opening because I found that I tend to give up if I can’t find the French word immediately. In my previous conversation, I would frequently just say a word I forgot in English to make it easier on my partner, but after speaking with Paterne, I realized that I can almost always communicate what I am trying to say by explaining or defining the word. Not only did Paterne teach me a better way to interact, he also made me more confident in my ability to get around a potential problem. I ended up saying “futur un jour,” which he accepted! Another thing he would do was write a word down if I was having trouble pronouncing or recognizing a phrase. This was very constructive since I am able to read and write in French a lot better than I can hear or speak it. I think this is because when reading, I can take as long as I want to uncover the meaning, whereas if I am listening, the speed of my progress is determined by whoever the speaker is. During the session, we mostly talked about our interests. When I told him how I liked chemistry, he proceeded to quiz me on molecular compounds! Overall, he was an amazing partner and I would love to speak with him again.