Allison Garcia, Florida Atlantic University
This semester I began my Intermediate Spanish Language and Culture course, excited to further my knowledge in this language, as well as earn that necessary college credit. As I read over the course’s syllabus, what immediately stood out to me was the section titled “TalkAbroad.” I had never heard of this program, and after reading the description of what this website offered, I have to admit I was a little nervous. While the idea of speaking to a native Spanish speaker certainly had an exciting appeal, the worry of not communicating effectively was a prominent fear in my mind.
I come from a family with a Cuban background, but have unfortunately grown up never learning to speak my culture’s native tongue. Learning this beautiful language became extremely important to me, for I felt I was somehow missing out on huge portion of my Latina heritage. Taking Spanish classes in high school helped me to learn the basics of the language, but I was certainly nowhere near fluent in the language. Now that I’m in college and enrolled in a course that has provided me with the opportunity to converse with a native speaker, I experienced a definite mix of nervous emotions before my scheduled call. Would my conversation partner be able to understand me? Would I remember enough from my lessons in class to perform well enough for my assignment?
All of my worries proved to have been completely unnecessary after I completed my call with Ana María Atuesta F. As nervous as I was when the conversation first began, Ana María took all of this in stride, and somehow made me feel as though we were long-time friends conversing as we would any other day. I had expected many awkward pauses in conversation, but Ana María always seemed to have thoughts to share and interesting questions to ask. I found myself learning much about her home, Colombia’s capital Bogota. We spoke of many things, from the climate of the city (which had just experienced its hottest day recorded in history!), to the delicious sorts of Colombian foods one could eat while in Bogota.
Both Ana María and the easy-to-use platform of TalkAbroad’s website made this website one that I will continue to utilize and enjoy. With these conversations, I can now ensure that I will feel significantly more confident when speaking Spanish. I’ve noticed I have become unafraid to stumble on my words because I know there is only one way to truly learn this beautiful tongue: to speak it often and learn from my mistakes. I eagerly look forward to my upcoming conversations, and am truly grateful that I am now one step closer to speaking the language of my people!