italki October 2015 Language Challenge BEFORE and AFTER videos !

November 17th, 2015 | Posted by Nicolò Talignani in feature | Language Challenge | Learning English | members | Motivation - (Comments Off on italki October 2015 Language Challenge BEFORE and AFTER videos !)

Check out Videos of Students Who Completed the October 2015 Language Challenge!

So, first of all we would like to thank everyone of you who have joined the October 2015 Language Challenge. Whatever your reasons of learning languages, we hope that by doing this challenge you will have a consistent language learning habit throughout 2015!

Here are some of the best videos that we received for this challenge:

Alex Barnes from United Kingdom completed October 2015 Language Challenge learning German!

In July Alex already did italki language challenge in Chinese and this time he would like to do it in German. He studied Chinese and German at University in England but last year he was in China, so he has forgotten a lot of German. Alex has no particular goals but he wants to improve his pronunciation and accent and to be a bit more fluent when he talks. He has finished his October Language Challenge.

Here is the public video pledge that he made before the challenge:

And here is the video after challenge:

 

Alex Gureev from Russia completed October 2015 Language Challenge learning English!

He decided for this Language Challenge to improve his English skills.

Here is the public video pledge that he made before the challenge:

And here is the video after challenge:

 

Blair from the United States completed October 2015 Language Challenge learning Dutch!

Blair wants to improve his target language that is Dutch.

Here is the public video pledge that he made before the challenge:

And here is the video after challenge:

 

Israel from China completed October 2015 Language Challenge learning Swedish!

Israel decided to learn Swedish because he is leaving in Sweden right now! He has finished his italki October Language Challenge!

Here is the public video pledge that he made before the challenge:

And here is the video after challenge:

 

Helga from Russia completed October 2015 Language Challenge learning Italian!

Helga was going to learn Italian. She speaks Italian quiet well but she was so struggle with propositions, articles and talking about the past.

Here is the public video pledge that he made before the challenge:

And here is the video after challenge:

 

Jesper from Denmark completed October 2015 Language Challenge learning Japanese!

Jesper has just completed the italki October Language Challenge where he was studying Japanese!

And here is the video after challenge:

 

Pierre Bredel from Brazil completed October 2015 Language Challenge learning English!

Pierre is learning English. This was his fifth italki Language Challenge.

Here is the public video pledge that he made before the challenge:

And here is the video after challenge:

 

Zeeshan from the United States completed October 2015 Language Challenge learning Spanish!

Zeeshan is learning Spanish. This time he was going to a continue practice in his Spanish because he wanted to achieve a really high level. His goal is to able to sustain high level conversations and more advanced topics such as global warming or alternative energies.

Here is the public video pledge that he made before the challenge:

And here is the video after challenge:

 

Ric from the United States completed October 2015 Language Challenge learning Spanish!

The main goal for Ric was to be able to speak Spanish faster!

Here is the public video pledge that he made before the challenge:

And here is the video after challenge:

 

Jonathan from the United States completed October 2015 Language Challenge learning Spanish and Italian!

Jonathan is learning Spanish and Italian. He wanted to improve his Spanish also because his family speak Spanish. Moreover Jonathan wanted to improve his Italian because he travels frequently for work in Italy!

Here is the public video pledge that he made before the challenge:

And here is the video after challenge:

 

We really do hope that after the challenge you will not stop learning languages. We hope that this challenge gives you that extra push to keep learning languages throughout the year!

 

“It’s fine”

September 16th, 2015 | Posted by Ivan in italki Team | teachers | teachers | Writing - (Comments Off on “It’s fine”)

 

The limits of my language are the limits of my world” “Die grenzen meiner sprache sind die grenzen meiner welt” .- Ludwig Wittgenstein; Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (section 5.6)

 

How often do you go through your day encountering something that creates a response of “that’s fine”? By this I mean “oh, it doesn’t matter, it’s fine, there is nothing to be done about it”.

Let’s enter the theater of the mind for a second:

A: “Hey, sorry I forgot to mention yesterday, but I can’t come to your birthday party after all”

B: “Oh, okay, don’t worry about it. It’s fine”

or:

A: “Is that vase supposed to be cracked like that?”

B: “Oh yeah, that’s fine”

 

Think about this for a moment: we routinely encounter situations which we decide to ignore. “It’s fine”, “it doesn’t matter”. All of these statements communicate a mental event – the resolution of potential tension in one’s mind.

Having taken a few classes in Blackfoot as a team, we have stumbled on a particularly poignant example of how the language you speak subtly shapes your attitudes and understanding of the world: “it’s fine”.

This came about from learning the phrase in Blackfoot: “maatohkaiki”. The structure of word formation in Blackfoot is such that elements are added together to produce single words that produce complex ideas. This feature of the language is called “agglutination”, a feature present in Turkish, Japanese, Malay, Tagalog, Finnish, Estonian, and many others. Even English displays some features of this, for example in the word “un-wholesome-ness”.

Maatohkaiki, broken down by element, is roughly equivalent to the phrase “I’m not doing anything about it”.

This, of course, struck us as very indicative of what, as language nerds often do, one can derive from a closer look at the particulars of a language one uses casually.

So, what can we learn from this? The phrase accomplishes the same task in each language, but, buried deep in the deceptively simple expression, there is a window to a fascinatingly diverse worldview.

 

What can we tell from “it’s fine” or “it doesn’t matter” in English?

First of all it is a declarative statement about the outside world. The thing out there possesses a state: mattering or not mattering, being fine or not fine. The phrase declares a state, judged and evaluated by the subject: “it’s fine”.

That evaluation is loaded with meaning – is the state of the world “correct” or “acceptable”, or is it not? The Blackfoot interpretation is subtly, but significantly different: “I am not doing anything about it” – the distinction is not based so much in evaluation, as it is in decision of action. Action, in this case, is the vehicle through which meaning is imparted on the situation or object. Meaning is created and given to the outside world through the action of the subject.

 

Let’s add just one more element of complexity for illustrative purposes: Mandarin Chinese

The equivalent phrase here is “没关系” (méi guān xi) - or “no relationship”, meaning that a certain thing does not matter; has “no relationship” to another thing. The first character means “lack of” and the following two – “relationship”. The emphasis of the world view becomes very apparent here: the world is made of relationships, and the speaker is filtering the world through this model.

“Chinese culture looks primarily at relationships” is a statement that bears repeating in this case.

 

So, what?

It makes sense, then, that a native speaker of any of these languages would internalize their understanding of the simple phrase differently from speakers of other languages. The language of one’s thoughts shape her world in a distinctive way. Of course, a language is filled with these subtle colors, shaping our perception during the language acquisition phase of our childhoods.

The beginning example, seen through this lens, can be now re-interpreted:

 

A: “Hey, sorry I forgot to mention yesterday, but I can’t come to your birthday party after all”

B: “Oh, okay, don’t worry, I’m not doing anything about it”

Or

B: “Oh, okay, don’t worry, it has no relationship to me”

 

A: “Is that vase supposed to be cracked like that?”

B: “Yeah, I’m not doing anything about it”

Or

B: “Sure, it has no relationship to me”

 

These re-interpretations do seem to convey a contrast in attitude and perception of the world. Such subtle differences are almost imperceptible to a monolingual speaker. It is only in the learning of foreign languages do we start seeing these changes in perceptions, the way our own minds shift subtly with every new language. We learn from contrast.

Seeing the world through another’s eyes is a difficult but necessary task. In order to build productive relationships with those around us, the ability to see the the world as they do is a powerful tool. It is a tool of cooperation and understanding. It seems that a great way to do this is to keep learning no languages and vocabularies. With each new word, our world expands and becomes just a shade more flexible, a bit more capable of empathy and understanding.  

 

italki June 2015 Language Challenge BEFORE and AFTER videos !

July 21st, 2015 | Posted by Romain in feature | Language Challenge | Learning English | Learning Japanese | members | Motivation - (Comments Off on italki June 2015 Language Challenge BEFORE and AFTER videos !)

Check out Videos of Students Who Completed the June 2015 Language Challenge!

So, first of all we would like to thank everyone of you who have joined the June 2015 Language Challenge. Whatever your reasons of learning languages, we hope that by doing this challenge you will have a consistent language learning habit throughout 2015!

Here are some of the best videos that we received for this challenge:

Alex from England completed June 2015 Language Challenge learning Mandarin Chinese!

Alex is actually living in Beijing and want to improve his general language skills. His family came in July and he wanted to be able to handle every possible situations!

Here is the public video pledge that he made before the challenge:

And here is the video after challenge:

Jonathan from France successfully completed the Challenge!

He choose to learn Spanish with three different teachers from all over the world to familiarize himself with accents and pronunciation, a great idea !

Here is the public video pledge that he made before the challenge:

And here is the video after challenge:

Pierre from Brasil completed the Language Challenge! His fourth Language Challenge!

He decided to improve his English for this language challenge.

Here is the public video pledge that he made before the challenge:

And here is the video after challenge, we can see the progress:

Jimmy Mello from Brazil took the Language Challenge and complete it!

Jimmy Mello has been a member of italki for two years, and is really involved in learning languages! He’s a Professional Teacher but also an avid language learner!  He decided to learn Polish for this Language Challenge with… his own method: the Mello Method!

Here is the public video pledge that he made before the challenge:

Before the challenge he never spoke Polish before and made some great progress! See for yourself:

Yang from China successfully completed the challenge and learned Swedish!

He had a great teacher and is waiting from the new Language Challenge!

Here is the public video pledge that he made before the challenge:

Yang made some great progress in his Swedish:

Charlotte from Sweden/Germany learned French during this Language Challenge!

Here is the public video pledge that she made before the challenge:

“La langue de Molière” is difficult but here are her progress after one month of learning:

Zeeshan from United States completed the Language Challenge!

He learned Spanish and Japanese due to a personal interest of the culture. Zeeshan feels he made real progress during the challenge and we congratulate him.

Here is the public video pledge that he made before the challenge:

And here is the video after challenge:

Scott from United States decided to learn Spanish during this Language Challenge!

Here is the public video pledge that he made before the challenge:

And here is the video after challenge:

Hank also from United States learned German during this Language Challenge!

He pledged and swore that he would take 12 hours of lessons in June… and he succeeded!

Here is the public video pledge that he made before the challenge:

And here is the video after challenge:

Helga from Russia successfully completed the Language Challenge!

She went on holiday to Italy so she decided to improve her speaking skills.

Here is the public video pledge that she made before the challenge:

And here is the video after challenge:

Bianca from United States completed the Language Challenge to learn Spanish!

She’s going to be a Reading tutor in Spanish, so she needs to improve her pronunciation.

Here is the public video pledge that she made before the challenge:

And here is the video after challenge:

Vitor from Portugal really likes learning new languages!

He decided for this Language Challenge to improve his Chinese skills.

Here is the public video pledge that he made before the challenge:

And here is the video after challenge:

We really do hope that after the challenge you will not stop learning languages. We hope that this challenge gives you that extra push to keep learning languages throughout the year!

 

Check out Videos of Students Who Completed the October Challenge

The New Year is fast approaching.  As 2014 comes to a close, it’s important to think about your goals and resolutions for the year of 2015.  We hope you remember to put learning a foreign language on your list. After all, italki is providing a perfect chance to get you started and stay motivated with the italki 2015 New Year’s Language Challenge.

To help get you motivated, we wanted to show you some of the videos that  our students made after they completed the last language challenge in October.  Everyone had good things to say about the last challenge and we hope that watching these videos will convince you to participate yourself. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity!

Lindsay (Japanese): 12 hours in one month completed!

An enthusiastic language learner who learned Portuguese through the World Cup Language Challenge, was back for more this past Fall.  Japanese is not an easy language to learn but she put in her hours and made significant gains!  We look forward to seeing what she will be capable of achieving this upcoming year.

Before:

After:

Crystal (Spanish): 12 hours in one month completed!

Crystal has been a member on our site for two years now.  She has been diligently working to increase her fluency in Spanish, a language that she “absolutely loves!”  She took full advantage of the October challenge to do so.  We hope to see her take on the Challenge this January.

Before:

After:

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Check out who’s taking up our Language Challenge!

If you’re taking the Language Challenge and really want to succeed, we’re giving away 50ITC if you make a Public Video Pledge!  Why would you ever want to do this? (Click here for more details)  Please take some time to motivate and encourage our Public Video Pledge Challengers by commenting on their Notebook entries!

(more…)