Lamb is one of our newest italki users and decided to take part in the Language Challenge. He wrote in with this update of his Language Challenge. It’s great advice for all Language Challengers (and language learners in general!). Lamb also posted a Public Video Pledge of himself before he started the Challenge. I’m sure even at the halfway point, he’s already come a long way!
Lamb’s original Notebook Entry (reposted with permission)
So last month I signed up for the italki challenge, put my money where my mouth is, and scheduled 20 sessions with a few reputable looking teachers. This was a little frightening because: (1) I had never used italki before, (2) I had never spoken my target language [French] with native speakers before, and (3) I had only just started to learn French from scratch for about a month. A lot of people, myself included, feel a great deal of anxiety about having to speak a language they’re not proficient in.
Most of us would rather study textbooks and flashcards and use websites like Duolingo (all great resources that I also recommend) for months on end and hope that speaking takes care of itself. Now, and I’ve only put around 12 hours of speaking in, I think I can say that this is the way it works. You get better at speaking by speaking, and the anxiety of speaking goes away the more you do it, too. I don’t think that six more months of self-study would have gotten me there.
So for anyone who’s on the fence: try it out. Start talking. As bad as the anxiety might be, you will be impressed with your own progress and see that it’s worth it. If all goes well, in a month I’ll have finished the challenge and gotten some more money for lessons. But if the worst happens—sessions get cancelled or something unavoidable comes up—I won’t lose the progress I’ve made so far, nor will I lose the motivation to keep going in March.