I Ordered Coffee in Budapest from my Desk in Philadelphia

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At Global LT, we believe you learn a language to use worldwide.  Textbooks, apps, lessons, practice, homework–however, it all comes together when you can take your skills into the wild.  

You can practice anytime if you’re living where your new language is spoken.  But what do you do if you’re living far away?  One solution is Global LT’s Virtual Experiences. These offer online opportunities to practice our most popular languages in the (virtual) wild.  These are opportunities to use your language in online cooking classes, public speaking workshops, or conversation groups.  

But I’m studying Hungarian, which isn’t one of the most popular languages, so there aren't any virtual experiences.  And I live in Philadelphia, where my opportunities for real-world Hungarian practice are few and far between.  

I doubted that I would have any real opportunity for real-life Hungarian practice. Still, when I started my lessons, I immediately found out what is unique about Global LT’s teachers: they’ll do anything to give you what you need for your language-learning journey.  So, when I said I wanted real-world practice, my teacher and I connected on a WhatsApp video call, and she took me out with her while she ran errands.  

Did I mention that she was running errands in Budapest? 

Via WhatsApp, I ordered a coffee for her at a café; I ordered dog food with the owner of her local pet shop, and I asked a waiter about the world-famous guinea pig village at the Budapest Zoo.  Did we get a few strange looks when my teacher held up her phone and introduced me as her Hungarian student? Of course, we did, but everyone was laughing when we finished.

Real-World Application of Language Learning

Whenever I’m frustrated working on confusing Hungarian sentence structure or hard at work with vocabulary practice, I remind myself how great it feels to have real-world success with my new language.  Sometimes, my teacher takes me on the bus or introduces me to her family.  I know I’ll visit Budapest someday, but moments like this make me feel like I’m already there.  

Ultimately, technology that makes us feel like we’re somewhere far away can have an enormous impact on language learning.  Before our post-Covid tools and norms for virtual presence, the biggest obstacle for real-life foreign language practice was geographical.  At Global LT, we’re developing technologies, working with our teachers, and offering Virtual Experiences to remove this obstacle and give learners unprecedented opportunities to connect to speakers of their new language, no matter the physical distance that separates them.


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