Logic Behind the italki Language Challenge (and how to ensure your success!).

October 16th, 2015 | Posted by Ivan in feature | Language Challenge - (Comments Off on Logic Behind the italki Language Challenge (and how to ensure your success!).)

The October Language Challenge is just about to start. This time, we are asking our learners to take 6 hours of language classes in the space of two weeks. As opposed to the longer, higher-commitment challenges we have conducted before. We are terming this a “sprint” to help you jump start your language learning habits.

In the same way that it’s difficult to stay with a gym membership, stick to a diet, or live up to one’s New Year’s commitments, it can be difficult to study a language after that initial excitement of learning wears off, and consistent work needs to be done.

What is the logic behind the challenge? 

The model behind the language challenges for italki is to encourage planning behavior that gives our learners a sense of traction. As an example, we looked at some innovative gyms and work-out oriented apps which charge a user more for skipping a workout (unlike traditional gyms with long-term commitments who are interested in user failure). We adopted a similar model, where the up-front cost of the challenge encourages a student to stick to their commitment. The purchases from the users who do not complete the challenge subsidize the rewards for those that do. (Of course, we would love for everyone to complete the challenge, and in the past few years the completion percentage has been climbing higher with each language challenge event).

What’s m0re, the idea of getting a prize and the sunk cost back for completing the challenge is another good motivator to put in the extra effort. Ultimately, having a reward at the end of the challenge works better to create a perspective shift in a learner: once the going gets tough, the competitive spirit and desire for the reward is a much better motivator than the feeling of “Oh well, I guess I’ve lost my ITC”.

Why is this challenge so short? 

We are always experimenting with a better motivate to improve the language-learning process. In the same way that long-term gym commitments actually work to discourage the user, a longer challenge may seem difficult and daunting.

This “sprint” format is designed to encourage forward planning in the short-term, and get our learners to try the optimal model for using italki (users who schedule on average 3 hours with a teacher per week tend to stick to the learning process longer, and get better faster). 2 hours per week is not quite enough, and 4 can be overwhelming and discouraging in and of itself.

By making this a simple 6 hours/2 weeks challenge, we are hoping to let our challengers see the benefit of the optimal model, and give them the opportunity to feel how quickly they can improve using this format.

What’s the secret to successfully finishing the challenge?

The most important piece of finishing the challenge is following a plan. That means the best way to schedule your sessions is all at once, in one go, to create a roadmap of your classes for yourself.

In this “sprint” format challenge, it is a lot easier to plan out all the classes and make teaching requests ahead of time. If you want to avoid the crunch-time rush or stress of finding teachers, plan all 6 of your lessons distributed evenly over the duration of the challenge.

First of all, you will have a lot more control over when and with whom you will be having your sessions.

Secondly, making a commitment to a teacher will help you prioritize language learning, and give you the best possible chance to derive the greatest learning benefit from the sessions.

 

There are still a few days left to register, and enrollment into the language challenge is open after the start date. Don’t wait, get your language learning momentum rolling here:

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 3.32.31 PM

 

 

References:

http://mashable.com/2014/01/23/fitmob-startup-gym/

http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2011/01/24/gym_pact_bases_fees_on_members_ability_to_stick_to_their_workout_schedule/

 

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See Who’s Taking October Language Challenge

If you are taking October 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:

October Language Challenge Video Pledges 1

October Language Challenge Video Pledges 3

October Language Challenge Video Pledges 4

 

Tamara from the United States, is learning Spanish

Helga is learning Spanish. She is doing her October Language Challenge to get herself back on consistence schedule with her language learning goals. Cheer her on by leaving a quick message in her notebook.

 

Alex Gureev from Russia, is learning English

Alex is learning This is his October Language Challenge public pledge video. Give him some support by leaving a quick message in his notebook.

 

Noelia from Spain, is learning English

Noelia is a professional teacher of Spanish and Catalan. She is participating our October Language Challenge in order to improve her English level. Let’s support her by leaving a quick message in her notebook.

 

Pierre Bredel from Brazil, is learning English

Pierre is learning English. This is his fifth italki Language Challenge. He wants to speak better English. Give him some support by leaving a quick message in his notebook.

 

Jessica from the United States, is learning Italian

Jessica is learning Italian. Even though she is a beginner right now her goal is to be able to have 30 minutes conversation with her instructor by the end of the language challenge. Give her some support by leaving a quick message in her notebook.

 

Ric from the United States, is learning Spanish

Ric is learning Spanish. He would like to improve the grammar and the accent but the main goal for him is to be able to speak faster. Give him some support by leaving a quick message in his notebook.

 

Dave from Philippines, is learning Mandarin Chinese

Rick is learning Mandarin Chinese. His goal is to be able to speak fluently with a Chinese person for five minutes. Give him some support by leaving a quick message in his notebook.

 

Ania from Germany, is learning Arabic

Ania is going to learn Arabic and she is also a professional German teacher on italki. She thought it might be good know a little bit of Arabic in order to teach refugees German in Germany in a better way Give her some support by leaving a quick message in her notebook.

 

Ryan from United Kingdom, is learning Spanish

Ryan is learning Spanish. His main goal is pass his Spanish exam in November and also simply improve his general fluency.

 

Chris Cook from Canada, is learning Spanish

Chris is learning Spanish. He wants to use this challenge to get back in practice in his Spanish regularly. Give him some support by leaving a quick message in his notebook.

 

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See Who’s Taking October Language Challenge

If you are taking October 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 Autumn of to a great start!

Click the links below to see:

October Language Challenge Video Pledges 2

October Language Challenge Video Pledges 3

October Language Challenge Video Pledges 4

 

Autumn  from Nova Scotia, Canada is learning French and Spanish

Autumn has been teaching English on italki for 4 years, and she’s also been a student learning on italki at the same time. She has already completed the June challenge and this is her second time doing that because she wants to get a very high level in Spanish. She wish everyone the best of luck. Give her some support by leaving a quick message in her notebook.

 

Jatin from Delhi, India is learning Dutch

Jatin wants to improve his target language which is Dutch. His goals for this challenge are to have a better conversation and improve his vocabulary. Give him some support by leaving a quick message in his notebook.

 

Alessandra from Turin, Italy is learning German

Alessandra would like to make this challenge with German. She wants to improve it much as possible and her final goal is speaking with friends without so many mistakes. Also she’d like to improve a little bit even the grammar. Give her some support by leaving a quick message in her notebook.

 

Jan Hyde from Leicester, United Kingdom is learning Spanish

Jan has been learning Spanish for three years but now she is still find quiet difficult to have to conversation with native Spanish speakers. Sometimes she get quiet frustrated when speaks in Spanish because she forgets some words and some phrases that she has learned but she doesn’t get practiced using. Jan successfully completed the challenge last year. Give her some support by leaving a quick message in her notebook.

 

 

Wyzwanie from Poland, is learning English

Wyzwanie is participating our October Language Challenge and she would like to improve her English level.

 

Alex Barnes from England, is 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. Give him some support by leaving a quick message in his notebook.

 

Amanda Saravia from Springfield, United States is learning Turkish

Amanda is learning Turkish. She wants to improve her fluency like talk faster and also learn a little bit more words. Give her some support by leaving a quick message in her notebook.

 

Eoghan from Ireland, is learning French 

Eoghan is learning an interesting and beautiful language-French! This is him October Language Challenge public pledge video. Give him some support by leaving a quick message in his notebook!

 

Morgane from France, is learning Korean

Morgane is a French teacher on italki but she is also student because she is learning Korean. Morgane is doing this because she is going to working in a Korean company in two weeks. This is her October Language Challenge public pledge video. Give her some support by leaving a quick message in her notebook.

 

Gillian from Scotland, is learning French 

Gillian wants to improve her French. She is going to do at least three lessons a week, possibly more. Give her some support by leaving a quick message in her notebook.

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So… in the spirit of giving, we’re offering this bonus again to help you complete the Challenge!

If you’ve signed up for the italki Language Challenge October 2015 , we’re giving away even more ITC to motivate you to succeed!  Do you really want to complete the challenge?  Use peer pressure (in a good way) to help yourself achieve your language learning goal! 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. Things that you put on the Web have a better chance of getting done!

BONUS 50ITC! Upload your Language Challenge Public Video Pledge

Make a Public Video Pledge by uploading a video to YouTube or Youku before you begin your first session (or your first few sessions).

What should you say in your Public Video Pledge?

Youtube video:


Youku video:

(more…)

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“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.  

 

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