My name is Javi, I work in e-marketing at italki and I’m taking the June language challenge! For this challenge I wanted to choose a very specific goal: learning a Chinese menu.

javi_eatingThere are so many Chinese culture and traditions around food and meals that I am not aware of, so many dishes that I try and love but don’t know how to describe, so many food-based idioms that I don’t understand… I’ve been living here for over a year and I still can’t order in Chinese! So this month I promised myself that all that would change.

So after 3 weeks, I’ve finished 8 lessons on italki and my Chinese teacher Catherine is awesome (I highly recommend her)!  This week I am trying to fit in 3 more lessons so all I need to do is 1 more this weekend to finish it.  It’s been tough but I agree with Tracy in that you just need to schedule your lessons in advance and set this time aside to meet your goals.

So halfway through week 2, I went to lunch with a bunch of my colleagues as we welcomed our new summer intern Jiahong and they had me try and order off the menu.  It actually wasn’t bad as I got about 75% of the food items correct.  I know I still have a ways to go but I feel with these last 3 sessions and by reviewing what I’ve learned using flash cards, I will most definitely meet my Challenge Goal!javi_eating_studying

I hope you guys are enjoying the Challenge as much as I have.  I’ve been at italki for almost a year now and it’s the first Challenge I’ve participated in and it’s a really great experience!

Tracy is taking the Language Challenge with the goal of learning Esperanto, but she’s got a long way to go. Does this apply to you as well? Don’t give up!

A photo posted by Italki (@italki) on

What’s your goal?

I want to talk with others about language learning in Esperanto (and to see how quickly I can learn it).
I’ve heard that a large proportion of the people at the Berlin Polyglot Gathering speak Esperanto, and that it’s very easy. I’m curious to see how much I can learn in a short period of time, and I’d really like to be able to have a 15-minute long conversation with an Esperanto speaker, especially about languages, language learning, and their reasons for learning Esperanto. I’m still not sure if I’ll be able to make it, but this is my goal.
At the beginning of my first class, the only words I knew were “saluton”, “dankon”, and “lernu” (because of the Esperanto community, so this will be a fun test to see how far I can go after starting with practically nothing.
After my first hour of class, I’d already gained a reasonable understanding of basic grammar and phrases for asking basic information about another person (and how many languages they are learning)!
A secondary goal is to learn Esperanto through my second language (Chinese).
All of the languages I’ve studied previously, I learned through my native language, English. So, my Esperanto classes are a no-English zone. Just in the first hour of class, I was already very amused by the ways that the 3 languages I’m most familiar with: English, Chinese, and Spanish, are variously influencing my attempts at Esperanto!

How’s it going?

Esperanto is great!
It’s been a long time since I started a new language, and I love it! It’s like giving my brain a shiny new toy.
I’ve heard that someone else in the office has studied Esperanto before and I’m already excited to try out my 1 hour of learning on him.
As for the 12 hours…
Between my family visiting, a music festival, going-away parties, a generally demanding schedule, and the fact that at the beginning of the Challenge, there was only one Esperanto teacher, I knew that I’d have a hard time scheduling lessons. I was, sadly, correct.
That being said, I really do want to learn as much Esperanto this month as I can, so I’m glad that now I just have to figure out a way to fit my next …11.5 hours into 1/2 a month. Deadlines make things happen. I’m still committed to finding a way to fit my hours into the next two weeks.
The fact that my classes are so fun is definitely going to help me put in the time.
However, if I have trouble scheduling Esperanto hours, I might fall back on scheduling more time to practice Chinese or maybe even start dabbling in other languages that I’d like to focus on later.

How are your classes?

Really fun! My teacher Teddy Nee has an obvious passion for languages and language learning. I’m very fortunate in that he’s also fluent in Chinese so I can avoid using English (my native language) during my lessons. I’m really looking forward being able to talk with him (and others!) about language learning in Esperanto!
Someone commented before that Esperanto was so easy that you can learn quickly without a teacher. But, the way I see it, if Esperanto is that easy, then I should be able to learn EVEN FASTER with a teacher!
Since my goal is to talk others, then I might as well jump into practicing that!

What are you doing outside of class?

At first, my daily goal was to write one question and answer pair that I want to be able to say in Esperanto. I’ve been discovering that actually, a better way to do this might be to write out my questions and answers for the week all at once and then make sure I look at at least one every day. This method would let me get all of the “thinking” done in bulk and then during each day of the week, I can just relax and follow my own instructions.
So, I might change that to have a weekly goal of generating my desired questions and answers for each day of the week and then a daily goal of reviewing my notes on the way to and from work + before bed.
Duolingo has recently opened an Esperanto section, and I’m excited to start using it as a supplement, but (this is embarrassing) it actually seems to be incompatible with the device that I have right now 🙁 (an old iPod that is incompatible with the current iOS). So, I’ll have to either use it on my computer or hurry up and get a new device.
[Edit: Actually, it’s because the Esperanto Duolingo is still in beta version, and was unavailable on mobile devices. ]
Other than that, I just discovered some old videos for Chinese speakers learning Esperanto on Youku, and I walk around on my commute to and from work, reading from my notes and asking myself questions out loud, mumbling like a crazy person.  I should also start making use of the lernu! community and resources.

Tell us more about Esperanto:

Even though Esperanto doesn’t have a country, I’m learning that it does have a sort of culture. For example, I learned that since almost everyone who speaks Esperanto does so as a second or third language, Esperanto speakers are attentive to taking into account each others’ native languages and how different native languages may influence the way a person speaks Esperanto. I appreciate that level of consideration for others!
I’ve also heard that some people have suggested learning Esperanto before learning other languages. After the very little bit that I’ve learned so far, I already agree with this for 2 reasons:
  1. Since Esperanto is a “Conlang” – a ‘constructed language’, it’s very well organized. There are no exceptions that I know of. There is a pattern to the vocabulary and to the grammar that just snaps into place (it was designed to). It’s very elegant.
  2. Since Esperanto IS so well-organized, the basics can be learned very quickly. This means you wouldn’t have to spend much time training your language learning skills on Esperanto before moving on to a different language.
If you’ve never studied a language before, I think learning Esperanto would be a great way to make it very plain to yourself how a language is structured. Then, when you begin learning other languages, you will already have a sort of abstract language “blueprint” in mind that I think would make it much easier for you to approach learning other languages. Esperanto seems it could be a kind of “training wheels” for mastering the process of language acquisition.
Maybe I’m just a little over-enthusiastic about my classes right now, but I’m on the verge of saying that everyone (at least, English speakers or Europeans) should try Esperanto before they learn any other languages, even if just as a sort of language learning boot camp.

Tips for other Challengers?

Really, I think the hardest part (for me, anyway) is scheduling the lessons.
I often get anxious about scheduling my time because I try to anticipate what else might be going on. I easily over-plan things. But, once I just bite the bullet and put the time on my schedule, it actually is easier than I think, and I actually feel much better knowing that the hours are there on the calendar. It’s actually kind of a relief.
I would highly recommend just buying packages for the amount of time you need to finish and then just requesting the sessions all at once and getting them on your calendar. It’s so much easier than having to decide hour by hour when to have class. Get the decisions out of the way and then just do it.
This is actually very good time management practice for me, so not only am I learning Esperanto on italki, but I’m learning some good life skills as well!
I’m also very glad to be reminded how much fun it is to start a new language – this is definitely a positive addition to my life.

See Who’s Taking June Language Challenge

If you are taking June Language challenge we’re giving away 50 free ITC if you make a video challenge pledge. Life Hacks research has shown that if you put yourself up to something by doing it in public, you follow through because others are watching.  So use peer pressure to your advantage!  So help out your fellow language learners participating in the challenge!  Leave them words of encouragement on their notebook entries!  And don’t forget to sign up for yourself, and get the summer of to a great start!


Click the links below to see:

June Language Challenge Video Pledges 1

June Language Challenge Video Pledges 2

June Language Challenge Video Pledges 3



Ian from the United States, is learning Cebuano and Tagalog

Ian is participating our June Language Challenge to improve his Cebuano and Tagalog. Give him some support by leaving a quick message in his notebook.


Manuel from Spain, is learning English

Manuel is learning English and in order to improve his pronunciation and communication skills in English, he’s participating June Language Challenge to make the best out of it. Give him some support by leaving a quick message in his notebook.


Jairet from the United States, is learning Brazilian Portuguese

Jairet wants to improve his Portuguese skills by taking Language Challenge and his goal is be able to have at least 5 minutes conversation without stopping in Portuguese after the Challenge. Give him some support by leaving a quick message in his notebook.


Tom from the United States, is learning Russian

Tom was fascinated by Russia’s history and the way how Russian sounds, he’s taking June Language Challenge to boosting his level of Russian. Give him some support by leaving a quick message in his notebook.


Scott from the United States, is learning Spanish

Scott felt that he learned quit a bit of Spanish by participated our Language Challenge last time so he’s going to continuing down this journey. Let’s support him by leaving a quick message in his notebook.


Robert from the United States, is learning Portuguese and French

Robert speaks pretty fluent Portuguese and French and he’s going to take June Language Challenge in order to improve more. Give him some support by leaving a quick message in his notebook.


Kitti from Thailand, is learning English

Kitti from Thailand is participating our June Language Challenge to improve his English. Let’s support him by leaving a quick message in his notebook.


Murillo from Brazil , is learning French

Murillo is a big fan of italki as you can see he wears italki T-shirt in the video, he speaks decent French and still decided to participating June Language Challenge to improve his French into a new level. Give him some support by leaving a quick message in his notebook.


Emily from the United States, is learning Italian

Emily only started use italki a couple of weeks ago. She’s been learning Italian 2 years now and her goal by joining Language Challenge is to get more confident to speak Italian and not get nervous when communicate with native Italian speakers. Give her some support by leaving a quick message in her notebook.


Bianca from the United States, is learning Spanish

Bianca is taking June Language Challenge to commit her Spanish learning goals which is to improve her Spanish ability to have a better communication with her students . Give her some support by leaving a quick message in her notebook.


Benjamin from the United States, is learning Chinese

Ben speaks quite decent Chinese. He’s taking June Language Challenge to improve his Chinses, at the same time to help him pass his Chinese and English Medical Licence exam. Give him some support by leaving a quick message in his notebook.


Diego from Chile, is learning Czech

Diego is participating our June Language Challenge to improve his Czech from A1 to A2 level so he can have more interesting and comprehensive conversation with native Czech speakers. Give him some support by leaving a quick message in his notebook.


Vitor from Brazil, is learning Chinese

Vitor is taking June Language Challenge to improve his Chinese skills as he has a lot of Chinese friends, he would like to have a better communicate with them. Give him some support by leaving a quick message in his notebook.


Alex from the United Kingdom, is learning Chinese

Alex speaks quite fluent Chinese, by participating Language Challenge he’s looking forward to improve his general Chinese skills as well as his pronunciation and accent so by the time his parents visit in China he will be able to show them around.  Give him some support by leaving a quick message in his notebook.

Avital from Isreal, is learning Chinese

Avital speaks very fluent Chinese, She would like to improve more of her pronunciation, vocabulary in Chinese by participating June Language Challenge. Give him some support by leaving a quick message in his notebook.


Tiffany from the United States, is learning Japanese

Tiffany would like to find out how much of her Japanese can be improve by participating June Language Challenge. Her goal after the Challenge is be able to communicate in Japanese for 10 minutes. Let’s give him some support by leaving a quick message in his notebook.


Brad from the United States, is learning Korean

Brad speaks decent Korean. He’s goal is be able to communicate in Korean with native speaker for at least 5 minutes by participating Language Challenge. Give him some support by leaving a quick message in his notebook.

June Language Challenge: Andrey’s First italki lesson for the June 2015 Language Challenge

June 8th, 2015 | Posted by Ivan in feature | Language Challenge | Motivation - (Comments Off on June Language Challenge: Andrey’s First italki lesson for the June 2015 Language Challenge)

Andrey is one of the newest italki employees, a Russian designer who has spent the last three years in Beijing. Here is the story of his very first italki AND very first Chinese language lesson. 

I had my first Chinese class with my italki teacher Sebastian (I picked him because his introduction video looked interesting, and he’s traveled a lot). Even though I’ve already spent several years living in China, it was my first Chinese class ever!

When I lived in Beijing, I hardly ever used Chinese. I mostly used Russian, and later English. I have also picked up some Chinese by being around people (mostly colleagues, friends, locals, and other Russians). Still, despite having a bit of basic vocabulary, I’m very much a beginner.

My first italki Chinese class

Sebastian showed me cards with Chinese characters and pinyin*, which I have not studied before. Maybe it’s because I’ve already lived in China, but I understood the pinyin portion quickly. I found it pretty fun to suddenly be able to name characters that before the lesson seemed just like mute squiggles.

* Pinyin is the “romanization”; the system of “spelling out” the pronunciation of Chinese words using letters of the alphabet.

I have homework.

I will need to learn Chinese characters. I think it will be fun, because characters haven’t really meant anything to me up till now; so far I have thought of them as just drawings. Now, I’d like to take steps to actually understand them, and I already recognize a few: 我, 你, 小, 他, 水, and 心 (because these are quite basic).

Since I already “passed” pinyin in my first class, Sebastian gave me some homework for learning characters. Beginning with the 2nd lesson, we’re going to start reading in Chinese. It’s kind of a challenge for us both, for him as well as for me!


I have problems with the tones, as many of those learning Chinese, which I’d like to focus on for my next lessons. Though the tones do seem a bit complicated, and I’ve always had trouble with them, I am hopeful I will be able to finally figure them out.

It seems kind of weird to speak this way, using tones, you know? I’m not the kind of person who finds it easy to laugh at themselves, and I don’t want to sound weird. But, at the same time, I want this; it’s part of the challenge.

I think overall I’m quite nervous: I think that to learn all of the characters would take forever! It seems like a lifetime-long project! I’m kind of scared that I don’t have that much time. I don’t mean that I’m going to die anytime soon, but I’m just too busy with work or other stuff. Again, I see this as part of the challenge: forcing myself to start learning something new and making time to do it well.

Overall Impression

I’ve never done anything like this before, it’s very cool!

The feeling is the same as when you’re on a roller coaster: it feels amazing, but you’re still nervous, maybe even scared. I’m looking forward to the ride.

Support the 2015 June Language Challenge Thunderclap!

May 22nd, 2015 | Posted by Jim in announcement | feature | Language Challenge - (Comments Off on Support the 2015 June Language Challenge Thunderclap!)

Are you taking the Language Challenge?
Share that you are taking the Challenge with others and use this peer pressure (in a good way) to help yourself achieve your language learning goal!

What is a Thunderclap?

It’s a new, powerful tool that allows people to Tweet or Facebook an announcement all together on the same day, at the exact same time to be heard loud and clear! We’re working with Thunderclap to make this biggest, most exciting Language Challenge ever! Get ready!

This summer join thousands of other language learners and achieve the common goal of learning a new language together!  Our Language Challenges have proven to help language learners get into a habit of learning. It helps by setting a clear goal they need to meet.