Amanda Schertzer, Ohio State University
I recently had a conversation with Yarimar Jara Artavia from Costa Rica. This conversation was by far the best and most engaging conversation I have ever had in Spanish. I did not feel ashamed or pressured when I made a mistake in Spanish. We just rolled along in the conversation. It felt so freeing to know that I could make a mistake or two and still have a great conversation. This feeling of acceptance in my learning process bred a more fulfilling conversation.
I loved the fact that we could share stories and that I could guide the conversation in a direction that interested me, as opposed to the traditional classroom setting when speaking Spanish. I loved this. Following those type of traditional classroom instructions makes the conversation seem forced, uncomfortable and a little stale. Practicing Spanish while being able to have fun and take a conversation anywhere makes learning Spanish enjoyable. Practicing foreign languages in a traditional classroom setting can become a bit mundane and stale. TalkAbroad swooped in and saved the day. It revitalized my whole idea of what is practicing Spanish.
Yarimar and I discussed an open-ended assignment prompt for my Spanish class. The prompt covered several subjects from the past weeks’ chapters. Discussing the prompt helped me use the words and speaking topics I had learned. As well as addressing the assignment prompt, we also discussed general ideas around these subjects just like you would in a normal conversation.
In a strict classroom setting, I have not been able to do so. Instructors make sure that you are on topic. In everyday conversation, however, this is not the norm. In my conversation with Yarimar, we covered the prompt, but I gained so much more than just getting and giving a response. In this type of conversation, I learned new words that I would not have learned from our book. I was able to find out more about her, her likes and dislikes, as well as Costa Rica. We discussed travel, vacations, our families and our home countries. It was all incredibly rewarding. I was having an actual conversation and engaging in a real-world setting with a native speaker.
This was the reason I started learning Spanish. I love the personal level of conversations that you can have with native speakers. It is just so interesting and exciting. I love to be able to use my Spanish with a native speaker. Since using TalkAbroad, I feel that I have made massive strides in Spanish.
In addition to learning and practicing Spanish, I have learned so much more about different cultures through TalkAbroad. I love learning about the values and stories of different countries. I have found a new love for Costa Rica and its culture through TalkAbroad. I can definitively say that without TalkAbroad I would have never found my love for Costa Rican culture.
Thank you TalkAbroad for reinventing what it means to practice Spanish.