2015 New Year’s Language Challenge Wrap-Up!

March 5th, 2015 | Posted by Tommaso in feature | Language Challenge | Motivation - (Comments Off on 2015 New Year’s Language Challenge Wrap-Up!)

challenge_logo201412What a great way to welcome the New Year with the completion of the italki 2015 New Year’s Language Challenge!

The Challenge was to complete 20 hours of language lessons on italki in 6 weeks (from January 15th to February 28th) to win a reward of 400ITC! (Click here for the Official rules)

Challenge Recap!
We did an analysis of this Challenge and it was similar to our previous Challenges (2014 October Challenge, 2014 World Cup Challenge, 2014 New Year’s Challenge). For this year:

48% of Challengers completed the Challenge!

We had Challengers came from all over the world (representing 66 countries).
These were the top 5 countries participating:

1. United States
2. United Kingdom
3. Russian Federation
4. Spain
5. Canada

Wow! We had over 49 languages that were learned in the Language Challenge.
The 5 most popular languages that our Challengers were learning were:

1. English
2. Spanish
3. French
4. Chinese
5. Italian

We also had a lot of much greater representation from our less popular languages like:

● Armenian
● Bengali
● Esperanto
● Galician
● Icelandic
● Lao
● Mongolian
● Punjabi
● Tamil
● Telugu
● Urdu
● Zhuang

Other interesting tidbits:

71% of Challengers who submitted a Public Video Pledge completed the Challenge. Compared to the 48% that finished from all the Challengers, this really helps!
● One hardcore challenge winner completed over 100+ hours (and you know who you are). This is doing more than 2 hours of language lessons a day! Wow!
11.5% of our challengers were also Community Tutors or Professional Teachers on italki so many of them were not only learning but teaching during the challenge!
3.9% of the challengers just missed winning by 1 hour or less. Ouch.
Planning ahead pays off! In one of our surveys, 82% of successful Challengers had already chosen a teacher (or teachers) before getting started.  They were also twice as likely to have considered their Challenge goal and mini-goals.
Confidence is not enough. Of Challengers who told us their confidence levels, those who did not finish the language challenge were just as confident as those who did!  Plan ahead to create a structure and study habits to help you commit.
Josie, Karthik and Aime – our italki staff completed the Challenge and really improved their Chinese. They all won the reward but their bigger prize was that was they got to keep their jobs (just kidding)!

italki_thunderclap_header4-1

Again, while it’s great that 48% of you that finished the New Year’s Challenge! We wanted congratulate all the challengers who participated. Even if you didn’t finish, we hope that this was a positive experience and it helped you kickstart your language learning for 2015! Give yourselves a big pat on the back!

If you missed this Challenge, don’t worry as we’ll have future Language Challenges.

See you at the next Challenge!

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Five Tips for Learning Languages During Travels

March 4th, 2015 | Posted by Tommaso in tips - (Comments Off on Five Tips for Learning Languages During Travels)

Languages and travel are two words that are difficult to separate, since you learn key words when visiting other countries. Luckily if you’re trying to learn the language, being a traveller offers many benefits. For example, being forced to learn vocabulary and basic grammar changes how you approach the language. Quickly putting what you just learned into use helps you remember it better. If you don’t, good luck knowing how to get out of the subway station, and even better luck asking for help. Another benefit is that you can now link vocabulary you’ve learned to feelings and experiences of your travels, helping them stay in your memory.
Without further ado, here are our top five tips for learning languages during your travels:

1. Learn the basics before your trip. Don’t fill your head up with complex grammatical structures and vocabulary which you really aren’t going to use during your trip. Actually, do the opposite: Learn simple vocabulary, such as “hello”, “thank you”, “how are you”, etc. Also make a list of the activities you plan on doing, such as the food you will eat, your means of transport and the places you plan to visit.

In action: I know memorizing new words and phrases can be challenging. To make it easier, try to connect words with your anticipated image of them. Regarding your pronunciation, Google translate has a voice option you can use to listen to words you aren’t sure about. After hearing a word be pronounced, make a connection between two syllables that sound similar in your language and the language you’re learning.

2. Get a good phrasebook. Learn complete sentences related to situations such as ordering food in a restaurant, asking for help on how to get somewhere and introducing yourself to a new person. When preparing for your trip, you need to optimize your efforts. Stay away from long, complex learning material, and instead, use resources that ease the learning process.

In action: The Internet puts many free resources at your disposal. A great option is MosaLingua’s travel phrasebooks. They’re incredibly useful, containing expressions and phrases you are going to use on your travels. You can download them free off their blog.

3. Be sociable. Not everyone is comfortable initiating conversation. Making matters worse is not having mastered the language you’re speaking! However, your success at finding people to speak and practice with depends on your determination, and above all, finding the correct people and context with which to do so. Seek out activities and locations where you’ll be around people who are locals but also travelers like you. In doing this, you can feel a little more comfortable speaking with somebody who has been in your shoes before and who can possibly relate to the stress of learning a new language.

In action: An increasingly popular decision for this is Couchsurfing, an online travelers’ community which offers infinite possibilities for meeting other travelers whose countries and cities you want to visit.

4. Stray from tourist hotspots. Participating in a tour can be enjoyable and a new opportunity to meet people, but if you want to learn the language and approach the culture of your destination, you should avoid these and other tourist clichés.

In action: Try searching the web for a short course or an open lecture (in a university, cultural center or museum) you would find interesting. Learning vocabulary is great, but you have to get a feel for the pronunciation and intonation of the language. Spur small talk with taxi drivers, vendors or welcome center employees about their favorite lesser known locations.

5. Do not cave in and speak your native language. Restaurants in Amsterdam and Camden Town, London might surprise you, because when you order your meal, they usually respond in your language. As a native English speaker visiting Berlin, I was surprised when a local answered me in English after I had asked how to get somewhere in German!

In action: Prepare yourself to be placed in these situations, and always act with courtesy and continue to speak the language you’re learning. Keep in mind that the locals will speak your language in order to facilitate the conversation, yet while you are in the bars or cafes, the locals may be more willing to listen and talk to you although you can’t speak their language fluently.

Good luck on your travels!

Author: Mildred Sarachaga.
Mildred creates content for MosaLingua blog since 2012, her articles are focused on her experience living and learning English in the UK. Mildred is from Bogota, Colombia and recently got a Masters in International Development: Poverty, Conflict and Reconstruction from The University of Manchester.

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20 Hours Of Portuguese

March 4th, 2015 | Posted by Jim in feature | Language Challenge | Motivation - (Comments Off on 20 Hours Of Portuguese)

Teddy Nee runs a popular language learning blog called Nee’s Language Blog. He’s also taking finished the 2015 New Year’s Language Challenge to learn Portuguese for the Challenge. Reposted with permission. Original post here.

 20 Hours Of Portuguese

20-hour language course is certainly short compared with what many study programs can offer. Imagine that you might spend the whole one hour on learning alphabets and telling people about your name, your hometown, your occupation, etc. in a language course.

If you join a course with many students, your learning pace can go only as fast as the slowest student. That might not be efficient for some students. The solution is either to do self-learning or to take a 1-on-1 course.

Honestly, I am not a big fan of language class, however, there is an activity called Italki Challenge that looks so interesting that I decided to give it a try. It is about learning any languages in 20 hours and I have just completed it.

The Achievement

I feel much more confident in speaking Portuguese now compared with before, and I have also proven that I can hold conversation only in Portuguese, not just once but for the entire 20-hour lessons. That is such an amazing experience that I have ever had.

Well, of course, I used dictionary sometimes, or asked it in Spanish since my tutor also speaks Spanish, and she is teaching it too. So, if any of you would like to have a Spanish course, you can also contact her. Here is her Italki profile.

Besides my tutor, I had also had the chance to speak Portuguese for a while with a Sao Tomean friend. That was my first time speaking Portuguese offline. It certainly gives a different experience when you are speaking face-to-face with a person that stands less than 1 meter from you.

After finishing Italki Challenge, I have started to take the learning into a higher level by reading about programming and engineering in Portuguese. The reason is simply because I am working as an IT engineer.

Next Challenge?

The last Italki Challenge was not the first, so I believe that there will be another Italki Challenge in the near future. I strongly recommend you to take part in it, learn any languages, widen your knowledge, talk with people from the other part of the world, gain experience, and be a world citizen.

Did you also finish the Italki Challenge? Share your experience with us in the comment box.

Images.
By Robert Nyman (Car and bicycle facedownUploaded by tm) [CC BY 2.0],via Wikimedia Commons
By r2hox from Madrid, Spain (Lisboa 2012/B111Uploaded by tm) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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italki Team Language Challenge – Week 6 Update – FINAL UPDATE!

February 28th, 2015 | Posted by Tracy in feature | Language Challenge | Motivation - (Comments Off on italki Team Language Challenge – Week 6 Update – FINAL UPDATE!)

The italki team is taking the 2015 New Year’s Language Challenge

How much Chinese can they learn in 20 hours?

3 members of the team at italki are taking the language challenge to improve their skill in Mandarin. Each of them will have 20 hours of lessons between January and February. Can you do better than them?  Check out their original Public Video Pledges that they made at the beginning of the Challenge here.

Week 6 Updates

aime_circleAimé, Intern

Week 6

I finished the Language Challenge last week already, and besides that, I finished my internship at italki!  It was a great experience living and working in Shanghai and learning Chinese as part of the Language Challenge.  I hope everyone else out there is feeling really proud of their progress!

 

josie_circle

Josie, Services

Week 6

I am done! I have completed my 20 hours!

I did successfully complete my 20 hours for my Challenge goal, but I haven’t finished writing down all of my vocabulary. But, I am writing it all down, so it’s 20 hours worth of notes that I’m cleaning up and putting into one book :) I rewarded myself with some good rest! It was nice to relax and not think about sessions for a few days. Then, I finished cleaning up my notes and even squeezed in a cheeky last session before the 28th.

My last goal for this week was to complete my notebook with all of my notes, and use colours and pictures to help me memorize! It was nice to finish before the end, so I didn’t have to stress out. It’s great to see how much I’ve really improved!

karthik_circle

Karthik, Data Scientist

Week 6

I did it!  1 hour every day for 5 days got me to 20 hours!

I wanted to take 10 hours last week, and I took 5 hours instead, so I met my weekly goal halfway. Even though I didn’t complete 10 hours, 5 hours is still a lot of language learning (for me). So, I got myself a pint of Salted Caramel Ice Cream and enjoyed!
My goal for this final week was to do the last 5 hours of lessons in the last 5 days to complete the language challenge.
I realized that, for me, in order to finish the challenge, I should do two things:
1. Buy Packages, not Individual Sessions
2. Schedule Lessons as far in advance as I can possibly plan

I know that if I do these two things, I will definitely attend, because I have already made time for it in my schedule. I wish I had realized this earlier. But, it still worked out in the end.

If my strategy had been to buy 20 individual lessons, instead of two 10-lesson packages, I don’t think I would have been disciplined enough to finish the challenge.  Good thing I did this in the last week!

 

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italki Team Language Challenge – Week 5 Update

February 19th, 2015 | Posted by Tracy in feature | Language Challenge | Motivation - (Comments Off on italki Team Language Challenge – Week 5 Update)

The italki team is taking the 2015 New Year’s Language Challenge

How much Chinese can they learn in 20 hours?

3 members of the team at italki are taking the language challenge to improve their skill in Mandarin. Each of them will have 20 hours of lessons between January and February. Can you do better than them?  Check out their original Public Video Pledges that they made at the beginning of the Challenge here.

Week 5 Updates

aime_circleAimé, Intern

Week 5

I did it!  I finished all 20 hours of the italki Language Challenge, and I finished early! It was hard, and sometimes I really had to force myself to make it to my sessions, but you know, it was worth it.  Since I was a bit rushed, it was hard for me to find time to study on my own and improve between sessions, so I think the others will be able to make use of the time left to improve even more.

I didn’t make my original goal of having a conversation in Chinese, but I really mastered my introduction.  When I first started, I could hardly say a single thing, and I know I still need to improve on my listening, but in one of my last sessions, my teacher told me, “You know, you just spoke Chinese for a whole minute.  I didn’t say a thing – that was all you.”  I feel so proud of my progress.

I want to encourage everyone else to keep going and find the time for your sessions.  Put in the time. I gotta say, it’s definitely effective.

 

josie_circle

Josie, Services

Week 5

I have now completed 17 hours! I have three more sessions and will be finished on Saturday.  However, I didn’t complete my goals for the week.  It’s been a hectic week, and I really have been terrible at making new vocabulary flash cards…

For this week, since I will complete my sessions, I want to make sure I write down all of my new vocab.  It’s probably close to 100 new words I need to write down and learn, but I’m confident that I can do it!  I plan to reward myself with REST! I will take a few days off from having sessions, … and maybe have some chocolate…

To all the other challengers, I want to say, “Keep going! You are close!  Even if you feel like you haven’t improved, you definitely have.  It’s definitely worth sticking it out until the end.”
karthik_circle

Karthik, Data Scientist

Week 5

(Note: I posted this after I made my video intro which I did late last week)

I have completed 10 hours!  I took about 3 hours worth of lessons this week. I almost met my goals for this week.  I wanted to get to 5 hours, so I’m 80% there.

My new goal is to do 10 hours this week.  I will reward myself with ice cream if I reach this goal!

To anyone else struggling to fit in your 20 hours, look how far I am from my goal.  But, I’m not giving up. If you have the time this week, see if you can surprise yourself and meet your goals.

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