We wanted to thank everyone who participated in the italki 2014 World Cup Language Challenge.  A few daring Challengers not only completed the Challenge but they also put in some extra effort and recorded a  BEFORE (by posting a Public Video Pledge) video.

Well… a few of these people who posted these Public Video Pledges here and here and here did something even more incredible.  They went on and posted their AFTER videos so you can actually see their progress!    Here are the top videos that we received!

LindsayDoesLanguages from the United Kingdom
25 Hours in 2 Months Learning Portuguese COMPLETED!

Lindsay,an avid language learning enthusiast and blogger, really set the tone as she gave weekly status updates to all the Language Challengers and showed us how she took on and really took on Portuguese.   She was the standard that all Challengers had to keep up with and her performance during these two months was exemplary.  The only thing we could find fault with was her prediction that England was going to win World Cup :)

LindsayDoesLanguages’ BEFORE the Language Challenge Video
Lindsay actually posted a Public Video Pledge when she began the Challenge.

LindsayDoesLanguages’ AFTER the Language Challenge Video

Lindsay also gave a great wrap up and offered her tips on how she beat the language challenge!

 

Leigh Davis from Ireland
25 Hours in 2 Months Learning Spanish COMPLETED!

Leigh is relatively new student but has already learned to get the most out of italki in a few short months.  If you haven’t read his amazing testimonial story – please do, it will inspire you to start learning a language now!  What’s even more inspiring is his progress in Spanish in just 2 short months.   If you ever wanted to hear someone improve from an OK level to a mind-blowing level of fluency, watch his before and after videos below!
Leigh Davis’s BEFORE the Language Challenge Video
Here’s his  Public Video Pledge before he began the Challenge.  His Spanish is already at a pretty good level.

Leigh’s AFTER the Language Challenge Video
He now speaks Spanish at a near-native level.    We showed this video to some of our Spanish speaking staff and they were impressed at his fluency but they were really blown away by his confidence.  It really shows in his after video!

 

Sandrah from the United States
25 Hours in 2 Months Learning French COMPLETED!

An avid language learning enthusiast and Community Tutor, Sandra started the learning French from zero.   You be the judge of whether she improved or not.  Her improvement is absolutely amazing and inspiring!
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Our new summer intern Reid from the United States started work at italki on August 4th.  We wanted him to write a quick blog about his first experiences working with the team here in Shanghai.  The below post is written by him.

My First Week at italki

100_0026I (on the far left) attempt to hit a bullseye while playing darts with the other italki staff.

When I walked into the italki offices for my first day on the job, I certainly had that first day at work anxious feeling. But as I met the italki team and figured out my way around the office, my nervousness quickly drifted away. I felt more relaxed as I came to realize that italki is not an overly serious, unorganized startup. It is, rather, a very efficient yet fun work environment. So yes, my first-day outfit of a suit and tie certainly stood out…

As part of my first week the entire italki team visited a Shanghai gun range for a company bonding event. This being my first week in Shanghai, I have to say I was pretty surprised that I would be shooting guns in China of all places. italki is a very international company and as such it is hard for many of the English-speaking staff to really connect with the Chinese-speaking staff. That said, the power of sport once again flexed its ability to transcend cultural differences and bring people together: while the entire italki team was shooting bow and arrows, we were all aligned in a common cause of cheering on our colleagues to do well. And, when we later took to the gun range I didn’t need to use Chinese to joke with one of my Chinese colleagues about my very poor final score… The entire experience consisted of shooting bow and arrows, guns, throwing darts, playing fuzball, and most all 12-year old birthday party activities (minus the guns, of course). Our team bonding event was, to say the least, an enjoyable, enlightening experience that allowed for all of us to connect with each other on a deeper level regardless of where we were from or what language we spoke.

100_0020One of my colleagues, Karthik, shoots a bow and arrow for the first time.

The employees here at italki are genuinely passionate about what they do and it shows in the quality of their work. The entire premise behind this company is to give people the power of a new language and thus a new culture; It is genuinely so amazing to watch as users from around the world go from having zero knowledge about a language to using it consistently in their daily lives. All in all, I remain excited to work at italki and gain further perspective on the world through my relationships with my international colleagues and italki users.

Until next time,

Reid

Sign up for the 2014 italki World Cup Language Challenge!

reachyourlanguagegoallllThis summer, people from all nations will celebrate the greatest sporting event in the world – The World Cup!

In honor of this event, italki will be hosting the 2014 italki World Cup Language Challenge where language learners all over the world come together to learn 100’s of different languages taught by 1000’s of different teachers.

Just like the World Cup, our Language Challenge brings people of different backgrounds and cultures together to work for a common goal.

 

To take the Language Challenge, you will need to follow these steps:


language_challenge_2014worldcup1. PLEDGE 20USD
You will get this pledge back when you complete the Challenge. Deadline to take the pledge is June 15, 2014

2. TAKE 25 HOURS OF LESSONS IN 2 MONTHS
With any Community Tutor or Professional Teacher from June 1st until July 31st (think ~3 lessons a week)

3. WIN 40USD
Get your 20USD pledge back AND 40USD in italki credits.  We are paying you to learn a new language

Click here to Sign Up for the 2014 italki World Cup Language Challenge now!
And finally become fluent in a new language!

pnz1v-lexie-thumbsup-300x280_04903y04903y000000What Previous Challengers Say!
I always wanted to learn French but always had an excuse to never put in the time to truly learn it. The italki Language Challenge was the perfect opportunity to finally start learning French. It was tough but it worked!” -Lexi

You can do it! See Before and After Videos from Winners of our previous Language Challenge!

Erin O’Reilly, one of our Professional Teachers who has been teaching on italki for over a year now recently presented Going Global: Using italki to Connect with Native Speakers at the 2014 SouthWest Conference on Language Teaching in Snowbird, Utah, USA last month. We were honored that she presented on our behalf.  Below she shares her presentation with a guest blog post:

The Changing Language Classroom

April 24-26, 2014

erin_oreilly

 

by Erin N. O’Reilly

 

italki_erin_screenshotLanguage teachers love technology.  Arguably, they probably love technology more than teachers from most of the other traditional subject areas.  This may be because until the advent of the Internet, getting authentic language learning materials meant travelling abroad and schlepping back yellowing newspapers, outdated magazines, and bulky cassette tapes.  Talking with native speakers?  Never a possibility unless you lived in a major metropolitan city.

For the past year, I have used the italki platform as a language teacher, connecting with language learners and enthusiasts around the globe.
While their goals and reasons for learning a language vary widely, their passion and enthusiasm to connect with native speakers is immediately obvious.

Enter italki – the platform that makes it all possible.

This past week I had the opportunity to join with language teachers from around the South Western region of the United States at an annual language teacher conference. I shared with them the research behind live, online language lessons as well as best-practices and creative ideas to get started.

As language teachers, we’ve historically been limited to classroom learning. Creating opportunities for meaningful practice with native speakers has always been limited by geography. Today the tools exist to go beyond the classroom, to connect with a world of learners and teachers. (more…)

Andrew Tracey is the author of the Spanish Learning Blog How to Learn Spanish (using free online resources!). He recently wrote a review about italki and we enjoyed it so much that we wanted to share some of the insight that he gained. Reposted with permission. Here’s a link to the original article iTalki Reviewed: Free Language Exchange Plus a Tutor-Student Marketplace (also: are tutors worth it?)

andrew_howlearn

I’ve talked about (here) how I think language exchanges are probably the single most valuable thing you can do to learn a language because that’s where you’re actually talking to – and being corrected by – a native speaker, that’s where the rubber meets the road. They’re considered an absolutely integral part of The Telenovela Method of Learning Spanish since I place such emphasis on using the Spanish you’ve just learned and I think the best possible way to do that is by trying to use it to communicate with a native speaker (because you’ll learn immediately whether you’re applying it correctly or not).

LOGO_italki_200x200Also, I know I’ve recommended italki before several times, usually stating that it was what I believed to be the best online language exchange site available (and that’s including even the language exchange sites that cost money, iTalki does not) and I still believe that. I’ve been meaning to write up a review of it for a long time now (couple years actually) but haven’t because I’ve dealing entirely with my book the last two years or so (either writing it or launching it or marketing it or…blah, something), so here it is. Not only am I going to cover the language exchange portion of the site (which is entirely free) but I’m also going to cover the tutor-student marketplace, so to speak, that’s the other part of the site (and where iTalki makes its money, if you were wondering). I’ve been using the language exchange system on iTalki for years now but only just today did I try out one of their tutors for the very first time. (more…)