Tina Learns Italian: Mini-Challenge #1

Part of the #Add1Challenge is completing mini-challenges on top of your main minimum time commitment goals. I completed Mini-Challenge #1 awhile back, but here is a recap:

Mini-Challenge #1: Speak with 3 different & new language tutors or exchange partners, for at least 30 minutes each, within the span of a few weeks. 

I used italki back in early 2015 for a few lessons thanks to Benny’s Fluent in 3 Months blog, so I wasn’t new to the idea. But when my computer died a slow, painful death, and my life got busy, I hadn’t picked it back up… Even after the Add1Challenge started. So, I was excited to get back to it.

There really is something very motivating about speaking – even very, very broken sentences, for a very, very short amount of time – to a native Italian. My end goal feels a little bit closer. So, I took 6 hours of lessons in February alone, broken out into 9 separate Skype calls. That was added to my weekly study group Google hangouts.

I spoke with 5 different tutors this month. There was only one I didn’t click with at all, so I consider it a success. I have ongoing lessons with 3 main teachers, and thanks to the suggestion of study group partner Gary, I have found a very affordable informal tutor to help me practice what I have learned in my formal lessons on occasion.

The goal of the mini-challenge is to get you out of your comfort zone and actually start speaking. Without those sessions, my Day 30 video would not have been as smooth.

Here’s a short breakdown of what I learned with the mini-challenge and getting back into Skype-based lessons through italki:

  1. Getting out of my head is always the most difficult thing to do, but once I do that I get so much farther than I think I can. When studying by myself, I can’t think about my 90 day goal. When speaking to others, I can’t think about how I knew this phrase 10 minutes ago! It’s like riding a horse – I need to learn to go by feel, not by thinking.
  2. I know more than I think I do. As stated by multiple tutors to me, over multiple lessons, and by multiple other people doing the challenge with me. (Again, there’s the whole “getting out of my head” thing.)
  3. Being understood is SO rewarding, especially so early into my challenge, that it makes me forget about trying to be perfect.
  4. Motivation levels change, but getting in real practice and setting smaller mini-goals helps.
  5. Trip planning is the most motivational thing I could ever do… Which might be a bit unsustainable long term but it works for now!
  6. Taking break days is important for my brain to rest and not get overwhelmed. The more tired I am, the more I stay in my own head.
  7. Other people are more patient with me than I am with myself. As long as I’m trying, the conversation keeps going.
italki calendar
My italki lesson schedule for February… Week 2 was crazy!


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