Add1Challenge. Have you heard of that?
Snooping around YouTube, I came across some Add1Challenge videos and wondered what that was all about.
I watched videos of people from all over the world giving their shot at how much of a language they had learned over the course of 30, 60, and finally, 90 days.
This year, I made plans to (finally) attend the Polyglot Conference in Thessaloniki. Since the conference is only two days, and I’m going to be flying in all the way from Seoul, I figured I’d do some traveling in Europe after the conference.
I have some friends in Germany, so I decided to visit Germany after the conference. It will be my first time visiting Germany, so I figured that I should try to improve my German at least to a decent conversational level before going.
I learned bits and pieces of German when I was in high school from hanging out with a few German exchange students. I was intrigued by the fact that well, English is technically a Germanic language – albeit with many of the Germanic features gone. And I was also interested in the German-speaking cultural and intellectual heritage. I asked my German friends how to say this and that, and just picked up the bare rudiments of the language.
It was only when I was in university that I took a more focused stab at this language. At the time, I was just getting into LingQ, discovering Steve Kaufmann’s videos on YouTube and being amazed at his story and how he went about learning languages. His support of Krashen’s ideas about language learning also served as a mental bridge linking my own thoughts about language learning and the stuff I was learning in my linguistics classes.
At any rate, I began listening to a lot of German content on LingQ, creating LingQs, making flashcards and the like. German was my first case language, and as one can imagine, I had quite a bit of difficulty trying to learn all the forms.
I did that for several months, but I guess I lost interest or it was too hard. I remember I checked out the first Harry Potter book in German from the local library and tried reading it, to great difficulty. Given that I knew very few words, going through a single page of the book was a time-consuming, laborious task. Thereafter, I got interested in Chinese Mandarin, and took some classes as well. German was always still there in my language world, but other things got in the way, and I just didn’t give enough attention to it.
But now that I had plans to visit Germany, I figured I would take the plunge and try out this challenge. Learn everyday (or almost every day) for 90 days and speak for 15 minutes with a native speaker? And put it up on YouTube? For all the world to see? I can do that. Or so I thought when I signed up 🙂
Well, it is now Day 38 of the challenge as we speak, and let’s see what’s happened. I started out by getting into my usual language learning resources: LingQ. I upgraded my account to a paying one, so I could create more LingQs, and also used Slow German – which is an amazing resource – to listen to interesting podcasts about diverse topics. I highly recommend Slow German for all German learners out there. I really appreciate the person who runs that site..speaking of which, I should drop her a line.
I also got back into Duolingo. I think I tinkered with it a few years ago when I heard about it. I just wanted to check it out and see if it was worth all the chatter. My use of Duolingo dropped off after some time though – you gotta admit, it does get a little repetitive. But doing this challenge in German, I was looking for resources to learn German, so I got back into it. I was dutifully doing it everyday but as of late, I’ve been missing those push alarms telling me to get back into it. I think the first little while it was fun, but it’s becoming more and more of a chore to do Duolingo as well.
Oh and there’s also Deutsche Welle, another awesome resource! They have an Android app called “DeutschLernen” which is available for free download on the Google Play Store (I’m not so sure if it’s also available – free or otherwise – on the App Store). Another great resource for learning German!
Now in terms of progress, I recently began looking for some speaking partners on iTalki. As may be obvious, you can’t expect to learn a language and speak it for 15 minutes with a native speaker in 90 days if all you do is listen and read 😉
I sent out a bunch of messages to a bunch of German speakers, but so far I’ve only gotten a few responses. I haven’t yet spoken to any of them yet, but I know I’m going to do it very soon. It’s Day 38 and I still haven’t found myself a partner to practice with!
Time is really flying by these days, and soon enough, it’ll be October and time to go to Greece to attend the Polyglot Conference! I do need to get back into the routine and work at my German more so I’ll be ready to speak to the locals once I go to Germany.
As we get closer to that 90 day mark, I hope to put up some more updates on my progress. First, I need to find an actual partner to practice speaking with. Viel spaß! 😀