Brianna McGlone, Ohio State University

When our instructor alerted us that we would be required to have two TalkAbroad sessions during Autumn Semester 2016 I panicked. I especially panicked when I found out the first session was due after only one month of instruction. I have had no other Spanish instruction in my life while many of my classmates had taken at least one class in high school and knew the fundamentals. I made my appointment the day before the assignment was due and became more and more nervous as my conversation date came closer.

When the day finally came I sat at my computer and waited for my conversation partner Allan Mayorga to arrive. I immediately told him that I do not know much Spanish and he was very polite and accommodating! I did not feel uncomfortable speaking to him at all even though I knew I was making many mistakes. Even when I know I was clearly saying something wrong he still understood the general idea and was able to prompt me to talk further. He also was able to highlight key words I did not know and help me understand so I could talk about a broader range of subjects with him. Although I did struggle greatly I feel like there was a great deal of conversation and information exchanged.

I was really surprised that even a complete beginner like myself could still have a conversation with a native speaker. As I continued through the conversation it shocked me how natural speaking can flow and I became much more comfortable. Although I had spoken in a classroom before it did not compare to talking with a native speaker. When studying in a class language can seem so calculated and foreign, but when talking to a real live person who speaks the language it feels much more real to me. It shows me that I can learn to communicate my ideas even across borders.

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