90-Day Italian Language Learning Challenge…Completed!
I’m glad to say, with a strong strong of satisfaction, that I have managed to complete my second 90-Day Italian Language Learning Challenge at LingQ. It wasn’t easy and I definitely felt the pressure to keep up the pace and not take too many off days. That is the point after all. To commit to a concentrated period of effort in order to make a significant jump in my level. There is no doubt that language learning does not improve in a linear fashion but rather exponentially as a result of the intensity you can bring to it.
In fact, it seemed harder earlier in the challenge to ramp up my efforts to the level required by the challenge. But, after building up the habits, I was able to then easily meet and surpass my targets and bring the Challenge home strongly. Plus, second place on the leaderboard isn’t too shabby! Congratulations alfissleeping who obviously wasn’t sleeping as he blew away the field! I did manage to edge out huggie_spice and hang on in second. My goal was to become a strong intermediate learner and I definitely feel that I’m there. I definitely feel like my comprehension is now pretty good and I’m ready to start speaking.
I took part in a couple of conversations with our great Italian tutors Manuela and Sabina in the past week and feel like I managed to hold my own. They were very kind and told me I did great. Personally, I know I have a long way to go but that is not a surprise. After not having spoken at all, it will take some time to train my brain to output my thoughts in Italian. Like anything, you need to practice speaking in order to start speaking better. Here’s one of my conversation reports.
My biggest take away from the conversations I had is that I felt like I could understand almost everything said to me. The whole conversation essentially took place in Italian so I can feel really good about that and it gives me confidence as I sign up for future conversations. And, in fact, all of the words and sentence structures that I couldn’t spit out on the spot when talking, are already familiar to me. I just need to review them and continue to practice so that I can recall them and others like them when I need to. I know this just takes time and practice.
I have already submitted some writing trying to use some of the expressions I am training myself to use. Writing is also an output activity and is easier than speaking since I have time to compose my thoughts. The more times I can start to express my ideas using new grammar patterns and vocabulary, whether in my writing or speaking, the more I start to imprint those expressions on my brain and start to move those expressions to my active vocabulary. Thanks to all our great tutors who submitted corrections for me! Some work to do yet!
The thing I have to do is to enjoy the process. Yes, I’m not speaking perfectly. Nobody can when starting out. I tend to want to be perfect and can get frustrated when I struggle and realize I’m not. The trick is to recognize how far I have come. I see that in how much more quickly I can make my way through my Italian lessons, either podcasts from Danilo and Rita or news articles I am importing. I would say I go through them at least twice as quickly as I did at the start of the challenge.
I remember having the same feeling when I was studying Japanese and reading and listening to the first Harry Potter book. Initially, a 3 minute audio segment was taking me an hour to read through and by the time I got done, it took me less than half that time. Japanese is a bit extreme because of the lack of “free” vocabulary and the writing system. As for Italian, I feel like I can read it as quickly as the audio track and understand it. I know that’s a big improvement and, if I keep at it, I will only continue to improve.
Then, as long as I start practicing my writing and speaking, I will eventually be able to feel comfortable speaking as well. I definitely have a ways to go but I have time and will enjoy the ride!
Did anyone out there also complete the challenge this month or even in the last few months? Are you in the middle of a challenge now? How are you doing? Do you have plans to start a challenge? Let me know in the comments.