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What to talk about

While I recommend that you do things and go places with your conversation partners, you are also going to have to talk about some of the topics below. As you can see, having access to an Internet-connected screen is going to be very helpful.

First round of conversations

January 26 through February 20

Focus on Part I: Geography on the menu on the left sidebar. I will expect your conversation logs and reflections to have the same focus.

Where were you and your partner born? Find both on Google Earth or Google Maps.

Use Google Earth to trade guided tours of your home town, your neighborhood, and Medaille’s campus for tours of your partner’s home town, neighborhood, and school.

Search Google Images using each others city as a search term. Explain to the other what they are looking at.

Go to Weather.com and find out what the weather is like at the moment in the others home city. Is that typical for this time of year?

Review the pop culture links. Watch movie trailers from each others country.

Look at ex-patriate opportunities in the foreign country and get your partner’s feedback on what the working conditions would be like.

Discuss your ideas for your final essay topic and ask your partner’s advice.

Questions to help get the conversation going . . .

  • What did you do for fun last summer?
  • How did you decide what college to attend?
  • Where would like to go on your honeymoon? Why?
  • If your conversation partner had only one day to spend in your city (province, country), where would you take him/her? Why there?
  • What is the most important lesson your parents taught you? Explain.

Second round of conversations

February 20 through March 20

Focus on Part II: Arts and Language on the menu on the left sidebar. I will expect your conversation logs and reflections to have the same focus.

Learn to pronounce your partner’s name.

Learn to count to ten in your partner’s language.

Learn a few new words in the native language of your conversation partner

Discuss where your partner’s country ranks on these cultural measures: Social Data

Look at the Cultural Heritage of each other’s country.

Myth of the Hero: does it apply to the stories your partner learned as a child? To yours?

Listen to each others favorite songs on YouTube or your iPod.

Discuss your developing ideas about your final essay topic and ask whether your partner can add any ideas or examples.

Questions to help get the conversation going . . .

  • Can you sing? What type of songs do you enjoy? Who sings these songs best?
  • Is there anybody in the news whom you dislike intensely? Who and why?
  • Who is the greatest person of your nationality to live (in history)? Why?
  • Do you have any personal heroes? Who are they? (Name both living and dead)
  • If you were stuck on an island, what book would you want with you? Why?

Third round of conversations

March 20 through April 10

Focus on Part III Arts and Politics on the menu on the left sidebar. I will expect your conversation logs and reflections to have the same focus.

Practice counting to ten in your partner’s language.

Learn a few new words in the native language of your conversation partner

Discuss where your partner’s country ranks on these cultural measures: Demographics

Political Systems: How often do each of you vote? For whom?

Discuss your developing ideas about your final essay topic. Show your partner what you have so far and ask whether your partner can add any ideas or examples.

Questions to help get the conversation going . . .

  • What is a problem in your country that you’d like to see your government/people attack?
  • What charities would you donate to if you had the money and time?
  • If you saw three men attacking someone in an isolated place, what would you do?
  • Are you a member of any clubs or associations?
  • What makes you optimistic/pessimistic about a recent story in the news? Explain.
  • Is there anybody in the news whom you dislike intensely? Who and why?
  • Do you think a government should be allowed to execute prisoners?

Fourth round of conversations

April 10 through May 4

Focus on Part IV Arts and Religion on the menu on the left sidebar. I will expect your conversation logs and reflections to have the same focus.

Practice counting to ten in your partner’s language.

Learn a few new words in the native language of your partner.

Discuss where your partner’s country ranks on these cultural measures: Quality of Life

Discuss the various systems you live with:

  • Education
  • Political
  • Health care
  • Justice

Take turns watching each others favorite YouTube videos, including clips of TV programs.

Discuss your final essay topic. Let your partner read what you have written so far. In this sense, your partners are the “experts” and you can directly quote them.

Questions to help get the conversation going . . .

  • How many people are religious in your country?
  • What do they believe?
  • How do they express it?
  • Where do they express it?
  • How important is religion in your country?

Other topics to discuss

Cultural traditions and customs
Special holidays
Traditional food
Games you played as children
Favorite pastimes: films, outings and other social functions
Culture shock
Current events
Places to visit
Family and social relations
Values and assumptions