Congratulations to all who participated in the 2015 June Language Challenge! It’s over now and we’re busy calculating the winners and losers. Final announcements will be made on July 7th as any sessions taken on June 30th need 7 days to auto-confirm if you haven’t confirmed sessions manually. We’ll also be depositing the 300ITC reward for completing the Challenge on July 7th as well!

5 of our italki staff also participated in the Challenge and they are busy compiling a great after video about how they felt balancing work, life and language learning to finish the challenge. Each of them wrote updates about their experiences taking the Challenge and if you haven’t read them, direct links are below:

Ivan’s Update
Tracy’s Update
Javi’s Update
Andrey’s Update

Note: William is missing because he’s back home visiting family and friends in Indonesia!

The italki June 2015 language challenge has not gone smoothly for me, and that in itself has taught me a great deal about achieving my goals and learning a language. It was an exciting, difficult, but ultimately rewarding journey. There are many things that I have re-asserted to myself throughout the process of the challenge: taking notes, importance of review, fundamental advantages of speaking with a person to learn language. Still, I want to make the emphasis on sharing some of the more unusual insights from the experience:

Lesson 1: My main struggle was caused by poorly picking my goal

The way I formulated my goal was simple: cover HSK 4 Level vocabulary (This is somewhere around C1 level, and combined with the previous levels of the test covers approximately 1200 Chinese words). (more…)

Jairet has his own blog called The Crummy Life and is taking the June Challenge and just posted this update. Reposted with permission. Original Post here.

June italki Language Challenge Update: Brazilian Portuguese

Olá! Tudo bem?

This month I am participating in the June italki Language Challenge. Maybe you saw my first post with my public pledge video, where I said what I aim to accomplish and used a bit of português brasileiro. What did you think?

Well it is time for an update, because week three has just begun. With my birthday in week one, and being in a wedding in week two, life has been packed to the gills with action and excitement.

I originally set the goal of taking three classes per week so that I could easily expect to meet the challenge of completing twelve total hours in June. Then, my family gave me the dates for our annual trip to Lake Tahoe, June 22nd – 29th!

Luckily this happened in week one.

I made the decision to up the ante to finish the challenge a week early so that I don’t have to finish the challenge while on vacation, just to take away the need to be in front of a computer while I want to be on the lake, on a hike, or rock climbing with my wild man father.

In week one, I completed three sessions. In week two, I completed four more sessions. Now we are in week three, and I have completed one more lesson. Also, I have four more scheduled before the family fills up the cars on the 22nd.

That means I have completed eight, and I have sessions nine through twelve scheduled already! I am on track to complete the challenge on June 21st, over one week early.

That’s all for now. If you have more interest in what italki is all about, check out my previous post or head tothe italki website for details.

Muito obrigado por ter vindo. Até mais!

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 lernu.net), 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.