TalkAbroad Resources home

Julie Vo, University of New Mexico

31 Aug 2018

I just finished my TalkAbroad session with Akihiro for my Japanese class. The assignment involved talking to a TalkAbroad conversation partner online for 30 minutes while incorporating the new grammar rules that we learned from the current chapter in the textbook. I’ve been working with TalkAbroad since I started Japanese at the beginner 101 level, when our vocabulary and grammar was only limited to introductions. My sessions with the TalkAbroad conversation partners normally go wonderful!

The Japanese native speakers know how to talk to the students extremely well and they follow my professor’s rubric perfectly when the moment is right. That being said, I treat these sessions like a course where I get to talk with my friends about my day to day life, rather than being a required academic session. I think that is the best way to feel relaxed during these sessions. I try to incorporate the grammar lessons that we learn in class into TalkAbroad sessions. There may be a few awkward moments, but Akihiro finds a way to continue the conversation so there is no long pause between both parties. He will ask further questions or repeat what you say. He also uses a lot of hand gestures to articulate his words, and if I still don’t understand what he is trying to say, he types it out for me. We laugh and learn from each other and we share a little bit about each other’s lives.

There are many rumors about the experiences on TalkAbroad where there is silence, awkwardness or difficulty following the assignment. I know that this gives a lot of students anxiety. I can see how many students go through the initial awkward silence phase, but it honestly is very easy to pass through that. I imagine my 30-minute TalkAbroad sessions to be a fun catch-up conversation with a new friend. My best piece of advice is that you should do your best to avoid thinking too much about following what is necessary on the rubric. Just treat it like a friendly conversation!