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!

Tones

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.

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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 4

 

Marcelo from Brazil, is learning English

Marcelo has been learning English for the past two years, he’s participating our June Language Challenge to improve his English more in order to reach his main goal which is be able to communicate with people from all over the world . Give him some support by leaving a quick message in his notebook.

 

 

Jonathan from the United States, is learning Spanish and Italian

Jonathan is participating our June challenge in order to improve his Spanish and Italian. Even he speaks quite fluent Spanish but his goal is to reach C2 level in Spanish, and Italian in a fluency level. Let’s give him some support by leaving a message in his notebook.

 

 

Kacey from the United States, is learning Icelandic

Kacey is taking part of June italki Language challenge to become better in Icelandic. Let’s give her some support by leaving a message in her notebook.

(more…)

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italki Language Challenges: Here’s the Backstory

May 29th, 2015 | Posted by Ivan in event | Language Challenge | Motivation - (Comments Off on italki Language Challenges: Here’s the Backstory)

The original concept behind the Language Challenge was based on two key ideas: a city marathon, and a smart incentive scheme.

Similar to a city marathon, the Language Challenge brings language learners to socially “train” together to achieve a defined goal. The social element turns the challenge into a public event, and helps the participants encourage each other to complete the challenge.

“Having a defined goal, such as taking 12 lessons, is crucial for focus. In language learning, it’s not easy to set a goal because progress is not easy to quantify, and there is always more room to improve.”

– Kevin Chen, co-founder of italki

The other idea was to offer a reward to people who achieve their goals, and to have the reward funded by the people who fail to achieve them. This concept was inspired by experimental gyms that were testing new payment models, such as charging higher membership fees for people who failed to go to the gym regularly.¹

The first Language Challenge was held in 2012, and the June 2015 challenge is the 10th in the series. The number of challengers has increased in almost every challenge, and over a thousand challengers are expected to participate in June. The Language Challenge attracts learners from all around the world, and many celebrity polyglots and language enthusiasts have participated in previous challenges.

How it works:

Participants pay an entry fee of $10 to join the Language Challenge.  If the challenger completes 12 hours of lessons with an italki teacher within the month of June, they will receive a reward of $30 in italki credits. italki credits are used for 1-on-1 online classes with professional native-speaker teachers.

You still have time to sign up!

www.italki.com/languagechallenge

And if you want some inspiration for your language-learning in June, head over here:

http://stories.italki.com/story/category/language-challenge

Footnote:

  1. See the theory behind for “Incentives to Exercise”, Gary Charness(UC Santa Barbara), Uri Gneezy (UC San Diego) http://rady.ucsd.edu/faculty/directory/gneezy/pub/docs/incentives-exercise.pdf
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2015 June Language Challenge “Get Started” Guide

May 29th, 2015 | Posted by Tracy in Language Challenge | tips | Uncategorized - (Comments Off on 2015 June Language Challenge “Get Started” Guide)

Are you ready for the Challenge?

The clock starts on June 1st, but here are 4 things that you should do BEFORE the Challenge starts to set yourself up for success.  Our experience shows that preparation really pays off!

 

Tip 1. Choose your teacher(s) ahead of time

Try to complete those trial sessions so you can choose your teacher(s) and begin planning. Many italki students find it helpful to work with several teachers.

Out of trial sessions?  If you used all three long ago when you first registered, email italki support to ask for more.

Still looking for teachers?  Find one here: browse teacher profiles.

 

If you’re about to have your first italki class, then this is for you:

FAQ: It’s my first italki session. What should I do?

Tip 2. Schedule sessions (or a package) in advance

Booking your sessions early is a great way to make sure you’ll put in your time and complete the Challenge. Even better, buying a package and booking the hours in advance is an excellent way of making yourself commit!

Here at italki, it’s a strategy we use ourselves to cope with our busy schedules!

Want to schedule something now? Here are some links:

 

Tip 3. Set your goal and discuss with your teacher

Set your own Challenge goal in advance. What would you like to be able to do by the end of June? Decide on at least one little thing you will do every day to keep moving forward toward your goal.  If you’d like some help with this, try answering these ten questions to help you clarify your Challenge goal  (you will have to sign in to a Google account).

What will success look like to you? It could be everything from a conversation with a native speaker to being able to read a restaurant menu and place an order!

 

Tip 4. Tell your friends

Social support is a great way to motivate yourself, both by receiving encouragement and by publicly declaring your Challenge goal.  Add your voice to the Thunderclap announcement.  If you make a video pledge to announce your goal, we’ll send you 50 ITC!

Here’s one of our favorites!  We love Cassie’s sense of humor, creativity, and her unique personal challenge goal of explaining how to make bread all in French!  This is what it’s all about!

Encourage Cassie by commenting on her notebook entry here.

Additional Language Challenge Resources:

Challenge Official Site and Registration Page

Challenge Rules and FAQs

Challenge Blog Coverage

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The italki team is taking the 2015 June Language Challenge so should you!

May 27th, 2015 | Posted by Jim in Language Challenge | Motivation - (Comments Off on The italki team is taking the 2015 June Language Challenge so should you!)

Tradition has it that we like to take part in our own language challenges and for this challenge we have a number of staff who are publically taking the challenge. This means they’ll be blogging about the challenge, posting up videos, and sharing their experiences in trying to finish 12 hours of sessions during the month of June.

Check back on the italki blog for their regular posts! If you haven’t done so already, there’s still time to join the challenge!

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