Intermediate Level French, Italian, Spanish and German, Southern Methodist University


The Department of World Languages and Literatures at Southern Methodist University (Dallas, TX) currently uses TalkAbroad in second-semester Spanish and Italian courses and plans to implement TalkAbroad in all second-semester language courses in the near future. The purpose of this grant proposal, however, is to explore innovative ways of integrating TalkAbroad at the Intermediate level in both formative and summative assessments. Our grant proposal comprises four intermediate (third- or fourth-semester) courses.

Course Information and TalkAbroad Implementation

ITAL 2401 (third-semester Italian) Instructor: Aria Cabot (projected enrollment: 6 students, two 30-minute conversations)

  • Current structure of the course: This is a third-semester language course with a significant speaking component. Previously, speaking was evaluated through oral presentations but over the past two semesters we have begun redesigning the course to emphasize building proficiency in more authentic contexts.
  • Plan for implementing TalkAbroad: Two 30-minute conversations will be focused on the topics of travel and mass media and will be used to assess specific communicative functions (making hypotheses, expressing opinions, narrating in different time frames, asking questions)
  • Motivation for implementing TalkAbroad: A pilot with TalkAbroad was implemented in this course in Fall 2019, with students completing 30-minute conversations in pairs (two students with one conversation partner). While successful, the course is now being redesigned to include TalkAbroad as a more significant component for assessing interpersonal, presentational, and interpretative modes of communication.

FREN 2401 (third-semester French) Coordinator: Gwen Aaron (projected enrollment: 3 sections of 10-13 students each, one 30-minute conversation)

  • Current structure of the course: FREN 2401 is a film-based course, and for the most part, a discussion class. 10% of the grade is based upon class discussion participation (interpersonal mode), and an additional 10% is based on spoken recordings (presentational mode).
  • Plan for implementing TalkAbroad: We will use TalkAbroad to assess modes of communication (interpersonal mode mostly) and communicative functions (asking questions, describing, comparing, reacting and recommending, narrating in the past, talking about the future, making hypotheses).
  • Motivation for implementing TalkAbroad: The implementation of TalkAbroad will show our students how rewarding it is to experience how grammar functions in discourse, with a native speaker.

GERM 2312 (fourth-semester German) Instructor: Gizem Arslan (projected enrollment: 11-14 students, two 30-minute conversations)

  • Current structure of the course: The course is structured around six films set in key historical periods in 21st-century Germany; students study vocabulary and structures in order to discuss the films and German history.
  • Plan for implementing TalkAbroad: TalkAbroad will be a key oral component of the course that will help students write and talk about their and others’ biographies as they relate to key themes (films in general, but especially as they relate to history and national identity), contextualize key historical figures and critique films. The first conversation will focus on films, genres, preferences, movie theater experiences in the United States and Germany, while the second conversation will be focused on the role of national sports in the formation of individual and national identity in the United States and Germany.
  • Motivation for implementing TalkAbroad: Currently, the German program does not have a weekly coffee hour or study sessions; students have limited opportunities to practice spoken German outside the classroom. This is particularly problematic in the third- and fourth-semester courses, because these courses meet only three times a week. With TalkAbroad, students will get the practice they desperately need and want. They will also learn to speak spontaneously and negotiate meaning with a native speaker, without the instructor’s assistance.

SPAN 2302 (fourth-semester Spanish) Instructor: Susana Solera Adoboe (projected enrollment: 15 students, two 30-minute conversations)

  • Current structure of the course: The course is designed for students who are comfortable using Spanish in all time frames past, present, future), but need to improve overall fluency and fine-tune grammatical competency. Oral communication is assessed through an interview with a native speaker (some instructors use TalkAbroad, others use native speakers from the Dallas community)
  • Plan for implementing TalkAbroad: For this pilot, I will expand the uses of TalkAbroad at the intermediate level beyond assessing interpersonal communication, to include more complex structures and cultural components.
  • Motivation for implementing TalkAbroad: TalkAbroad empowers students, exposes them to authentic language and culture, and provides easy access to diverse authentic experiences. I want to look beyond interpersonal communication practice to explore the full potential of the platform by developing more sophisticated and complex assignments tied to a range of student learning outcomes.


Coming in 2019

Project Lead

Aria Cabot, Southern Methodist University