When I was asked to join the italki October 2015 Language Challenge, I was a little hesitant. Not that I did not want to participate, but I felt a little intimidated – as an introverted person the idea of shooting a video pledge simply scared me.
However, the more I thought about it, the more excited I became about the whole concept of sharing my progress and inspiring other people to take the challenge with me.
How am I doing?
First of all, let me tell you that on its own, 6 hours is not that much time to make huge progress, especially when I work and also have several essays to write for university back in the Czech Republic at the same time.
Right now it is almost the end of week 1 of the challenge and so far I have only finished 2 sessions out of 6. I decided to stick to having sessions with only one teacher throughout the challenge as I seriously need to work on my sentence structure and I feel I would lose too much time explaining what my weak points in Chinese are before each and every session.
Anna, my Chinese teacher, tailored the sessions to suit my needs. During the first half an hour we usually go through a written dialogue from a textbook, reading it out loud, explaining grammar points, new words and structures. The second half an hour is focused on speaking. I summarize the dialogue using given vocabulary, answer various questions about it and then we just have a random chat about ourselves, our plans or other current topics like Chinese holidays or food. I particularly like this part of our class because not only do I learn about the Chinese language, but Anna also explains a lot about the Chinese culture which is very helpful in order to gain an in-depth understanding of the Chinese mentality and lifestyle.
Finding the right strategy
Revising what I have learned during my italki sessions is a crucial part of learning. Honestly, at first I had not been doing very well. I was lucky enough to realize this at the very beginning though. From then I started adding all of my new vocabulary into Anki, a spaced repetition flashcard program that I highly recommend.
Also, using new structures in sentences and rewriting them over and over again turned out to be helpful. Above all, I found that the most important aspect of the revision process is reading out loud! I cannot stress enough how immensely it helps me. As for me, speaking is essentially the hardest thing to master when it comes to learning a new language.
Having adopted this strategy, I believe my progress will be more evident and I will eventually reach my goal of being able to hold a 5-minute conversation about myself with one of my Chinese colleagues.