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Vanessa Parrish, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

3 May 2018

When my professor informed us that we would be using TalkAbroad to video chat with people who actually spoke French, I was not sure that I was going to do well in the class. The instructor told us about how we would be talking in French with strangers about the topics that she gives us, which did not sound like something I wanted to be a part of. However, it was for a grade, which meant I had to do it. I am so incredibly happy that I did the TalkAbroad conversation, not just for my grade, but to help me feel more confident in this language that I have spent so much time learning about.

After my conversation, TalkAbroad completely wowed me with the discussion partners that they had. I was expecting mean and old professors who were going to intimidate me. I was completely surprised to find that most of the partners were younger and sometimes even students themselves. I picked a very nice woman from Canada who was very patient with me, as I am nowhere near fluent in French. We began a very easy going and interactive conversation that followed the prompt given to us by my professor. It was so much easier than I expected.

At first, I was incredibly nervous about the entire situation. I had so many questions about how the whole process would happen. Who am I talking to? Will they judge me for being bad? Have I prepared enough? What do I do if I don’t know what they said? My class has a group chat, and in there we were all talking about how absolutely terrified we were to make fools of ourselves to someone who actually speaks French.

After the conversation, I felt all of the questions and pressure just dissipate. I had the nicest partner who was very patient with me and seemed genuine throughout our whole time talking. She helped me when I was struggling and we even laughed about the things we talked about. In the beginning of our TalkAbroad conversation, she popped onto my screen and said “Bonjour!” and startled me and we both got a good laugh out of that, it very much helped ease the tension for me.