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Keys to creating a successful assignment:

  1. Write all instructions in the target language.
    • Many of TalkAbroad’s conversation partners do not speak English.
  2. Provide brief and precise instructions for each assignment.
    • Too much detail is burdensome and unnecessary for students and conversation partners. The most effective assignments include simple and familiar topics based on the level of student and classroom learning. We do not recommend listing the entire semester’s assignments, as the conversation partner won’t know which assignment the student is on. If the assignment includes an attached document, limit it to one page.
  3. Clearly communicate the central theme of the assignment.
    • If students are allowed to pick a conversation topic out of a variety of topics we recommend instructing the student to send a direct message to their conversation partner in advance with the topic they’ve chosen.
  4. Address the student AND conversation partner in the Shared Instructions about the content of the conversation.
    • This is not a place to include instructions specifically to the student like deadlines or reminders of how to act during a conversation. These should be provided to the student in the syllabus or elsewhere in their classroom materials.
  5. Address only the conversation partner in the Private Instructions to communicate background information about the student or conversation.
    • Examples of information to include might be if the students are beginners or more advanced, if this is their first TalkAbroad conversation or if you have special assignment requests like completing the targeted discussion topics before moving on to other discussion topics.
  6. Provide example starter questions or specific conversation topics.
    • When a broad conversation topic is assigned (music, food, culture), it’s best to include specific directives or background information to the conversation partner to ensure a successful conversation.
  7. Provide a topic that is appropriate for the conversation time frame (10 or 30 minutes).
    • If the conversation is only 10 minutes it’s best to focus the conversation on one short topic related to classroom material the student is comfortable with.

For more information, please take a look at these additional posts: