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Angelica Rodela, University of Texas

24 Apr 2018

Originally, I was terrified of doing my TalkAbroad assignment for Spanish class. I had been dreading it for weeks after it was assigned to my class. I had confidence in myself when it came to the classroom because almost everyone was on the same level, but knowing I had to exceed the expectations of the classroom to hold a conversation with a native Spanish speaker was stressful. During the few days prior to my scheduled meeting with Marianela, I studied as much as I could, took more notes than usual in class, recalled key phrases my professor used to implement into my own conversation and asked more questions than ever. I was in full panic mode. The last hour before my conversation started, I was scribbling notes like a mad man. I felt that if I wrote down which narratives to use for certain verbs and my general interests and topics I wanted to address, I would do excellent. I wanted to be as prepared as possible because I thought if I wasn’t I would be insulting my TalkAbroad partner’s language. I laid out my seven pages of notes in front of me to help guide me when I got lost or to help direct questions into another topic in case I ended up stuck. Unfortunately for me, all that work was wasted, but not in the bad way you would think. I never looked at my notes once we started our conversation. We just jumped right into it. I was able to recall tons of words from my vocabulary bank and we had so much fun getting to know each other.

Marianela was super easy going and she had such a huge smile on her face, so I could tell right away that she loves what she does. She began asking me all sorts of questions to lead the conversation and get to know me. At some point, after a few questions, she gave me the confidence that I needed. Soon enough, we were laughing and sharing stories about our home countries and things we liked to do. You could tell she was a family person by the way she addressed topics and I too am also a family person. When I stumbled on certain words or used the wrong personal narrative she didn’t hesitate to correct me (which was exactly the push I need!) and she did it so elegantly that I didn’t feel uncomfortable, pressured, or made to feel less than adequate. I guess all those hours of practice really paid off! At the beginning I was worried I would struggle having enough to talk about for 30 minutes, but every time I thought I had paused the conversation, she came up with some thing new and relatable! I was very appreciative of that. I am glad I chose a partner that works well with beginners and I’m glad to have had the experience of working with her. I gained a lot from the conversation and know exactly what I need to work on to progress on my journey to learning Spanish. The platform was also super user friendly and I definitely think it would be beneficial to my learning journey to continue to use TalkAbroad so that I can familiarize myself with everyday conversation in Spanish. ¡Gracias para escucharme!