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Nolan Cutler, Southern Methodist University

11 November 2019

I, over the span of my first semester at college, would say that I have greatly enjoyed TalkAbroad. In order to learn and absorb knowledge when it comes to learning another language, immersion is one of the best things one can do. And sure, I’ve had my fair share of experiences with immersion in my language of study, Spanish, since I live in Texas, where there is a good number of Spanish-speakers. However, I have not always had the opportunity to practice my Spanish, especially when moving away for college.

When I heard that my class would be using some website named “TalkAbroad,” I was confused, nervous and upset. Why is this necessary? I’ve never had to do anything like this before. Isn’t a speaking exam enough? I felt the same way until I had my first conversation on TalkAbroad. It was nice, being able to pick someone that was aware that I wasn’t fluent and was able to work with Spanish-speaking beginners. My partner was on time, quick, concise, and the conversation not only challenged my knowledge of the language, but I also learned a lot about his culture while having fun. And sure, Spanish class throughout my years of learning it was sometimes fun, but nothing really compared to TalkAbroad. It was so authentic. I learned so much about other people, and it really introduced me to viewpoints and experiences from around the world that I would have otherwise never had.

I think that the quality of TalkAbroad is not just a fluke, either. I just finished my second and final TalkAbroad event for the semester earlier today, and it was a lot of fun. I was surprised by the fact that my camera didn’t work, and that my partner spoke very fast, but I still had a great conversation despite these things. As I previously said, it was a fun challenge.

I also think that there is a lot of great reflection to be had from TalkAbroad. My professor makes his students write a reflection talking about what was discussed during the conversation, what we thought about it, and how things went, generally. We had to go back and analyze the audio recordings to evaluate how we did and to break apart and learn new words and phrases from our partners. I think that since TalkAbroad allows users to almost instantly access an audio recording of the entire conversation, there is a lot of improvement that can be found in going back to the conversation and seeing what went well and what could be improved upon.

Overall, I’ve really enjoyed my time with TalkAbroad. I went from being terrified of it at the start of the semester to now missing it and wishing I had more of it. This is my last semester of Spanish I’ll ever take, but out of the three years I’ve spent studying it, I can easily say that this is one of the most educational and enjoyable activities one could partake in to better understand their language of study.