Hello Hannah and thanks for participating in this interview about the Add One Challenge, where you join an online community for 90 days in order to make improvements in your target language while encouraging others in the community to improve as well.
How did you first hear about the Add One Challenge? A Finnish friend of mine told me about it. He subscribes to a lot of polyglot email lists, and he forwarded an email to me that talked about a hangout with Brian, and another polyglot whose name I have forgotten. I signed up to attend the meeting in September 2015, and that’s where I heard about the challenge. I decided that I would take it for Finnish.
How many Add One Challenges have you participated in? Two
What languages were your targets during the Add One Challenges? Finnish and Icelandic
What level did you have in those languages before you started the challenge? Finnish High A1, Icelandic completely nothing.
What was your motivation for learning those languages? I was motivated to learn Finnish because it was a challenging language, and also the culture was something I could relate to. I didn’t know anyone else learning the language, and I was the only one in my challenge who was learning it.
How has your motivation for learning those languages changed now that the challenge is over? After the challenge, I kind of fell off studying Finnish actively, due to health issues and hard studies, but I’m getting back into it now. For Icelandic, it was a huge dream of mine from the time I studied the country in 4th grade. I’m still in shock that I’m no longer having to say, “I wish I could learn Icelandic.” I was motivated to study it because of its relation to Old English. I’m a huge language nerd, and language relations fascinate me. Now that the challenge is over, and I don’t have so much accountability I don’t study every day, but I still try to use it as often as possible. It’s really hard to find people who speak it.
How did you find native speakers to talk to in your target language? I usually found them on language exchange websites like Interpals, or sometimes on Facebook groups or through commenting on page posts. Sometimes I found good partners when I asked people I already was speaking with if they knew someone who would like to help me with the language in exchange for a language I could offer.
What was your favourite part of the challenge? I really love the mini challenges, especially mini-challenge two, which involves writing sentences. I love writing.
What was the most difficult part of the challenge? Finding people to talk to for my specific languages.
Thanks for providing the link to your YouTube channel where you posted your videos every thirty days during the challenge, to mark your progress in your target languages.
If you were to do another Add One Challenge, what language would it be in? Languages on my list include Swedish, Lithuanian, Russian, and Estonian
If you were to do another Add One Challenge, what would you do differently? I would manage my time more carefully, but also not freak out if I didn’t do “active” study every single day. It’s ok to do passive study like listen to music or watch a movie or just text friends in the language instead of deep grammar study.
What advice would you give to anybody who is about to start an Add One Challenge? Don’t be afraid to mark a NAY. It will come, and sometimes you just need a break. Schedule your time wisely. For me, I knew I could consistently reach a 45 minute time every day with a one day break per week. That was the goal I felt comfortable reaching on most difficult days. You can always shoot over, but schedule yourself for the minimum time you could stretch to reach on a busy day.
What were the mini-challenges during your 90-day Challenge? What were the bonus challenges? Did you do all of them? The first mini challenge was finding three people to talk to in your target language, and try to have a 1/2 hour conversation with them. Second challenge was writing as many sentences as possible. The last challenge was to accrue as many minutes of speaking in your target language as you could. Bonus challenges included making a day 21 video about any topic, for example giving directions on how to do something, or singing a song in your target language. I did all of them.
What recommendations would you make to somebody trying to learn your target language? Don’t worry too much about the grammar. It will come with time. Don’t stress about having everything perfect. The goal is communication, understanding and being understood.
What will you do to continue improving in your target language now that the Add One Challenge is over? I will keep talking with my private discussion groups (not part of the challenge) in my target languages, as well as reading books, and writing letters to people who speak the language.
Thanks again Hanna for participating in this interview and best of success with your feature language-learning endeavors. We have another post about the Add One Challenge in Spanish by Daniela Fries as well as a piece Dimitris wrote in Norwegian.
Dimitris would love to hear from you if you have a website about culture, expat life, language learning, or university studies and accepts guest posts. Yozzi also welcomes interviews and guest posts.
The idea is not to write in your best language, but to write a post in your target language. Then native speakers can comment on your writing ability and help you improve. You could say the site is at the pre-beta stage. So I’m not promoting it on a large scale yet, because first I prefer a small group of people to test out the site and provide feedback on the user experience.
After that, I would like to follow Brian Kwong’s Add One Challenge model of having a community, which over a certain time period would commit to submitting blogs and correcting the writing of others. At the end of the ‘challenge’ each participant could share the learnings and write a piece about the kinds of errors they were making in their writing, about the idiomatic expressions they learned, and summarize any other key learnings.
Yozzi takes over where lang-8 ends. See this post for suggestions about what to write about. All guest posts should be a minimum of 500 words. If you like the idea of the Add One Challenge, where the goal is to hold a 15-minute conversation with a native speaker after 90 days in your target language, what would you think of a writing challenge for advanced language learners where a community on Yozzi comes together to write in their target languages and to provide feedback to help each other improve their writing skills? Over time, you’ll get better and better at blogging in a foreign language.
Yozzi is a new site, so it would be great to hear your feedback about the usability and content of the site. Please get in touch with me and let me know what you think.