The Virtual Study Abroad Project is based on authentic communication, captured on video, of unscripted everyday encounters during study abroad trips in German-speaking countries. The project shows students and instructors attending to everyday needs such as buying train tickets and shopping for cheese. Other segments include interviews with native speakers about their lives and interests. Materials from GoogleEarth are embedded in every video.
Videos are accompanied by online exercises focusing on vocabulary, listening, and conversation development. Video/exercise combinations are common, but they generally focus more on comprehension than acquisition. An essential component of the exercises is audio recordings of "chunks" – useful phrases and expressions from the videos – spoken at a slower pace than in normal speech. The chunks give students a chance to listen, repeat, return to the video clips, and internalize the speech as it occurs in a natural context.