This has been an intense first week but I feel like I am further ahead than I was during my last previous italki language challenges. The sign up deadline has past so if you wanted to participate in the challenge and haven’t signed up yet, you’ll have to wait until the next one unfortunately. By the end of tomorrow, I will have already taken 5 lessons with a tutor. There were a few tutors who that we had to reschedule lessons with but it looks like I’m off to a great start!
Describe What You Don’t know
When you have a solid foundation (or at least have the basics down), you tend to have a bit more freedom to discuss a broad range of topics. But this can be quite challenging at times because your responses are now more complex than they were at the beginner’s level. (The A1-A2 range). Trying to describe and explain things in a new language can be incredibly challenging when you lack the vocabulary to do so. But at the same time, you feel like you were able to express yourself more clearly than before.
That’s exactly how I feel about my current level in Japanese. When I don’t know what a word is, instead of asking the tutor for a translation: I describe the meaning to them in only Japanese. Most of the time, this works especially if you know it’s not a difficult concept to explain in great detail. For example, I was talking about something and I didn’t know what the word for “moustache” was, and so I described what it was for my tutor and I learned that 髭（ひげ）didn’t mean “moustache” but also any hair around the mouth and chin. (ie: whiskers and beard).
Having A Wide Range Of Topics To Discuss
Once I get to know a tutor and we had quite a few sessions together, eventually we end up discussing more than simply introducing ourselves and why were are learning different languages. In fact, some of my conversations were based on something random or spur of the moment. Which can be great for spontaneity! One of my sessions was spent discussing the different types apples which evolved into talking about Apples to Apples and then explaining what Cards Against Humanity was all about. Good times!
Knowing what you want to discuss is a great way to keep the conversation going to where you would like it to. Especially if it’s deals specifically with you in particular. Maybe you want to talk about a book you read, a TV programme you recently became obsessed, video game you played, or even being able to use the target language at your work. It will really help you make the most out of your sessions. It can also prevent you from wasting time during your sessions.
Create a list of topics you want to discuss!
Diversify Your Learning Tools
Don’t just focus on output (speaking and writing) but incorporate some reading and listening into your learning as well. That way you have all your bases covered. Whether it’s reading along to an audio book while you listen, learning the lyrics to your favourite song as you sing-along to it, or simply listening to engaging podcast. Use a wide variety of methods and if you lose motivation or get bored, look for more engaging content in your target language.
Sometimes you can get motivation from simply watching a YouTube clip entirely in your target language and having the desire to be able to understand the video. I know I’ve used YouTube as a resource many times for every language I’m learning. Since the content is so diverse on YouTube, you can find almost anything to keep your motivation alive.
This Week’s Goal
Reading the first two chapters of the Nightmare Before Christmas in Japanese aloud. While learning all the kanji for each chapter. Especially the one’s without Furigana printed on top of the kanji. I will also be doing more repetitions for my Memrise deck and perhaps make peace with Anki and begin using it again. In addition to those apps I will be using JHKanjiKaki and TegakiKanjiDrill1006 apps to reinforce my kanji knowledge while learning new ones at the same time.
How was your first week during the italki challenge? Have you made progress yet? Are you staying motivated? I’d love to hear how you’re doing during this challenge! Do you think language challenges effectively improve your fluency in a new language? Let me know in the comments below!
また来週ね (See you next week!)