(thesis advisor)Ethan Silverman
Speaking a foreign language can feel like a constant challenge, particularly if its not used on a daily basis. Before Paola's boyfriend was corrected he was quite pleased to have even remembered how to say excited. Being corrected was embarrassing but it reminded him of the importance of native speakers. Converso is an online chat network for foreign language speakers. It assists foreign language speakers in maintaining their fluency by connecting them to compatible language partners for conversation. Converso's audience consists primarily of people who have studied a foreign language at the college level but do not currently have access to native speakers. The online setting allows users to connect directly at whichever time is convenience. In Converso chats are broken up in to two sections, one for each language so that both parties can practice. The world of online language communities involves a number of different programs most of which are aimed at teaching. Converso's goal is to help speakers maintain a long term connection with native speakers so that valuable skills aren't lost. It promotes quality interactions by consistently prompting users for feedback on their language partners and rewarding positive experiences with a high rating. There are also quizzes, chat assistance widgets and labeling for dialect speakers. Finally all discussions are based on personal interests so that speakers can get past the mechanics of language and focus on the content of their conversations.
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