Striking up a conversation

It was not without a certain amount of excitement and nervousness that I placed myself in front of my newly acquired (and a bit too cheap) webcam to have my first conversation with my Taldansk Online buddy. It is with the same kind of excitement (but not quite as urgent nervousness) that I am now typing this: my first ever blog entry.

Striking up a conversation is always exciting because you never know where it is going to lead you and what you might learn along the way. Striking up a conversation with a complete stranger can be downright daring because you have no idea what kind of companion you have just embarked upon your conversational journey with. Or to be fair, the only thing you know about your partner is that he or she is willing to go along for the ride, wherever it might end up leading you.

As far as striking up a conversation with my buddy, it turned out to be fairly easy as we had a common goal from the get-go: learning Danish. That being said, I quickly realized that I had practically no idea how to reach that goal. Being only qualified by the fact that Danish is my first language, I suddenly found myself in a conversation I had very little experience navigating.

Fortunately, my partner had been in the “learning-Danish-as-your-second-language-game” longer than I had, and although I had prepared some suggestions for what we might talk about and how we might go about it, she quickly offered her suggestions for improvement. After the obligatory introductions, we were soon discussing different topics and strategies, trying them out as we went along.

Danish language partnerThis worked out well, and I found out that I had only grasped half the truth of the situation I was in when I thought that I was entering a conversation where I was responsible for teaching another person how to speak Danish. I was equally as much engaged in a conversation where I had to learn what learning and practicing Danish meant, which can be quite difficult when you have no prerequisite pedagogical experience.

This brings me back to the issue of my qualifications and the whole point of the Taldansk Online project. I mentioned earlier that the only qualification I had for doing this was that my first language is Danish, but maybe this is not at problem, maybe this is exactly the point of the project: to give person studying the Danish language the opportunity to experience what it is like to converse with a perfectly normal Dane. (For all purposes, I am going to go ahead and just assume that I fit that bill. Although I like to think of myself as slightly above average. But then again, who doesn’t?). In this respect, Taldansk Online is kind of like jumping into the pool in order to learn how to swim. You can only learn so much staying on land, eventually you have to jump in and just try.

I think this might apply to this blog as well. I don’t really know where this is going to take us, but I hope we will be able to strike up some interesting conversations along the way, and hopefully we will learn more about the programme in the process. I will do my best to share whatever thoughts I have, and I hope you will be pitching in too.

I hope this blog will help us figure out why we are involved in this project, how we manage our online conversations, what we learn along the way and perhaps, as my conversation partner and I found out the other day, why the Danish language has such a measly vocabulary reserved for the description of hot weather.

So please join in the conversation if you feel like it. How did you feel the first time you turned on your webcam to practice your language with a complete stranger?

Stefan

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