Lingoda Language Marathon – Learning French and German daily – Progress so far

This post is the second part to my series (read the first part here) about doing a language marathon to learn both French and German. Just a note, that this post is not sponsored or paid for but I will be adding a promo code below for 75 euros off your first month.

And so far, things have been very busy and going extremely well. I have been keeping almost daily diaries of my lessons, my feelings and thoughts after it. I will go through and publish these after the marathon. I think that having small daily entries can give some better insights of the daily challenges but I do want to make longer posts like these for more in-depth type of thoughts.

Differences between the second and first month of learning…

  • I am considerably getting better with my pronunciation.
  • Since I am better with my pronunciation (here’s a small video I did from a German A1.2 lesson), I am a lot more confident with my speaking skills.
  • Learning with a native language speaker, compared to self-learning, has a lot more advantages compared to completely relying on self-learning. This is a lot more obvious when I get corrections with my sentence structures and exercises. When I self-learn, I am not aware of the mistakes that I am making.
  • As I take more and more classes, it is taking me less time to prepare my notes. I remember when I first entered A1.2 classes, I needed at least a full hour to go through not only the class PDF, but I would also need to take notes of how to pronounce certain words.

Some quick tips on the final month of the marathon… (though even better if you are considering starting)

  • Have an alarm in place at least one hour before your class and get into the habit of taking notes one hour before. I think Lingoda makes a recommendation to do a refresh for maybe 15 or 20 minutes before each class but I personally do one hour and that is the time I take to make notes.
  • I keep electronic notes (ie WordPad, Microsoft Word, Pages, whichever one you use) because it’s a lot easier to search through for words and notes being used. I also would take screenshots and put them in my notes.
  • I have one or two pages of a ‘boiler plate’ template. This boiler plate template has common ways to ask a question, some hints on conjugation, some hints on noun gender). For German the boiler plate template is a lot longer because I am adding various shortcuts like; how to tell something is a Trennbare Verben, shortcuts on what to use depending on nominativ/akkusative/dativ cases, various hints, common links that I use, etc).

Use of videoconferencing technology with learning…

Even though I work in IT and I love all things tech, I have to admit that I really wanted to do an actual language school because in this way, I can also get out. I also work remotely, so to me video conferencing is a bit boring but I have to say that whenever teachers make the most of the tools it makes the class a lot better.

Below is a good example from one of my French classes..

Teachers handwriting during class is very rare, usually notes are typed of drawn on the PDF. But one of my French teachers have the best handwriting I have ever seen!

Lingoda has some really good teachers that make the most of the software they use for conferencing but quiet a few prefer to go with just a video call, the PDF screen and typing at the screen which I think is perfectly fine as well.

What are the other students like?

One thing that I have noticed after jumping from A1.1 to A1.2 earlier is that I started noticing a lot more students actually living in Germany taking the classes from A1.2. Timezones also seem to play a role and they probably have peak times for those based in Europe taking classes. There also seems to be a lot more people based outside typical French speaking regions taking French classes, but I didn’t notice the same trend in my German classes.

Another thing that I noticed is that the students taking classes seem to skew more towards working as freelancers or working in the tech industry, especially with the German classes. It could be because German classes cost more to take (269 euros per month compared to 199 euros per month), and one tends to learn this for a specific reason (for work, because one lives in a German speaking region, etc).

Otherwise, I have not really run into any particular problems with it being a group class. I did notice that a lot of late classes (at 9pm, 10pm, 11pm) for German tend to be with either yourself only or with one other person.

Another thing I noticed is varying levels. So you have one student that is clearly very good at the level they are in, and they may be aware of it and the teacher would also provide feedback.

Which levels should I take?

This is the one thing that I have realized is around the levels. When I first started a new level, I needed to do a lot of notes beforehand but soon became ‘climatized’ to that language level after maybe 3 or 4 lessons. I think that levels should only be a common guide only because each person is different. For example, there was one student who is very good with conversational skills but not so good at doing the exercises.

Upcoming classes…

What are the downsides to Lingoda/ this model of language learning?

  • What you get out of language learning is what you put in. Don’t rely on the hourly classes for your instructions. You need to do the homework, do the notes, ask teacher the questions, make notes, and so on.
  • Since there are so many teachers you get very different quality and very different experiences. I’ve slowly come around to choosing certain teachers based on how well they teach, but it could also be their personality as well (in terms of, how well they teach, I think personality plays a part in it…)
  • And again, since there are many different teachers it may be hard to get some consistency. You can try to choose the same teacher in as many classes as you can also.
  • Since the classes are a group class, you can easily be in a class of varying levels. Most of the time, we are in the same level, but there comes a class when there could be one or more struggling (yes, I was definitely the one struggling back when I was not doing my notes or when I had very little sleep…)
  • You may run into familiar students, but little avenue to talk to them after the class and also to network with other students. In this case you may want to instead turn to social networking groups and events.
  • So far, I may have had a few instances of teachers not being found for the class, in which case a credit is given back to you and you are notified. Interestingly enough, all of these cases have happened for my French classes, not German.

Anyway, I hope this entry was a bit useful. Over time, I only studied A1 levels but just didn’t make the jump to A2 and my next classes are all A2 level.

Below are my promo codes!

FYUVJH for a discount – I will get a few lessons in exchange! Please note, this is not a sponsored post, just wanting to add a discount if you are interested.

Learning French and German Every Day for Three Months – Lingoda Language Marathon!

Disclosure: This is NOT a paid and sponsored post but I do have a promo code at the end which you can skip.

So here I am, taking part in the Lingoda Language Marathon , full marathon for three months. That’s taking one hour of language lessons every day for three months, no excuses to miss it otherwise you are disqualified.

It has been less than a week since I decided to start learning. I started off doing an introductory ‘lesson’ 1-1 taking place on a video conference platform. This was not so much a lesson but more like a hour conversation with someone to talk about myself a bit, my motivations to take up the lessons, history, and we got into one of the classes. It turned out that I needed to start from the beginning A1.1 for French, so here I am.

I decided to go ahead and purchase the 3 lesson introductory week for 20 euros. This was a group lesson with up to 4 other people however in the two group lessons that I have been to, has been with one other person. You are provided with a PDF (generally about 30 pages) of study material to work on during the hour. The teacher is a native speaker, so you learn how to pronounce the words, the rules, and so on. With one other person, the teacher takes turn practicing although I don’t know what it will be like with 3 or 4 other people. It is recommended that you take 15 minutes at least to go through the material first, look up the objectives of the courses and what to learn, and also (of course) spend some time to learn in between the classes.

After each class, you rate the teacher and provide feedback and in turn the teacher provides feedback to you albeit it has been largely quiet brief.

So far, I have been quiet happy with the experience and was actually considering to take 30 lessons per month, or more. Then I ran into the Lingoda Language Marathon but only by sheer chance that I decided to one day look at their Instagram account as I don’t follow them on social media. I was really excited by the prospect and the fact that I had already taken the group classes and I was already considering doing a subscription made the decision making process easier to take part.

Tomorrow, I am sitting in the German introductory 1-1 conversation to talk to someone at Lingoda and determine where I sit, but since I have been on-off learning the language, I want don’t want to start from the beginning but I do have some brushing up to do. I asked their Support if I can take part in two languages for the marathon providing that I use two emails and two account without being disqualified and they said it is perfectly fine, so here I am, doing both French and German group classes.

It is quiet a jump, since I have never done language tutoring before. I’ve done self-learning using various resources but I just feel inadequate both in terms of skills and motivations. I think that having a social community, taking part in a shared common goal, and betting my money into the study has given me some motivation to better myself and hopefully we will see more results in a few months’ time!

Below are my promo codes:

FYUVJH for a discount off – feel free to use it, I will also have a few free lessons in exchange also.

Expat How To: Take Yoga Classes in Paris

I just started a subscription at a yoga studio here in Paris since early last month. Ever since I moved here late July, I’ve been looking at what my fitness options there. There is actually a range of options – from aquacycling, to the free ‘fitness machines’ available on the streets, large parks where you can even meet with a group and exercise together, as well as a number of gym offerings and other sports centres. They are not usually in large ‘warehouse style’ buildings like you’d expect in North America or Australia, usually quiet smaller buildings just off the street or tucked away in a private driveway.

Whenever I looked for options, I usually considered the following (and is applicable beyond studios):

  • How close is it to me? Can I walk? Or take a bike? I want an option that does not take long for me to get to, especially during the colder winter months.
  • What are the subscription options? For one month? 6 months? It’s really unfortunate, but I have noticed that many gyms will offer low subscription options but they tack on high fees to join, to be able to leave flexibly, to use the lockers and so on.
  • What is the facility like? I’ve seen gyms that look quiet upbeat, and others that are more depressing such as actual doors that had been broken into and dark rooms.
  • What are the people like? If you are about to spend an hour or so in a centre, you might as well also gauge the community vibes.
  • What is the area like? Paris is a very built up city, with many different personalities. It is an extra plus if the area that you go to happens to have a lot of activities or things to do before our after your practice, or if it’s a central transport hub.

Late in September, I was browsing along and noticed an ad that a yoga studio near me is offering yoga in English classes. Not only that, but the classes were free. There was no option to sign up, so I had all the dates in my calendar and I ended up attending to quiet a few free yoga classes in English.

If you are new to the activity and don’t know the language – starting in English is recommended

This is the case in yoga, but can be applicable elsewhere. The reason why is that you are doing a new intensive physical activity. If you are new, then you are not only unaware of the posture names being used, but also what the possible alignment is.

Instructors should be there to make sure that you are not overly straining your arms, legs, back and so on. Doing so can lead to some injuries or at least some discomfort after the practice.

If English is not available, learn the poses first (such as on YouTube) and learn the French language names of the poses.

There are some key terms and phrases that you need to know to get a grasp. Hopefully after taking a few lessons in French, you get an idea of the instructor as well as the French language!

Digital Nomads and Language Learning

Digital nomads typically flit in and out of countries, either staying there for merely weeks at a time or even months but definitely not years.

One of the downsides is that digital nomads don’t stay long enough in a place to pick up a language.  Either that, or they pick it up in bits and pieces as they return back to their favourite country or countries.

I lived in Germany and I greatly regret not doing more work at the language, knowing that I will soon be leaving this great country in a couple of months.

For many years, I have been on/off in learning German on my own using free resources online.  And yet, despite being here for nearly a year I haven’t attended any German learning courses nor am I able to go in lengthy conversations in the German language.  I am able to understand, just normal / simple talk, with the likes of shopkeepers who cannot speak English.

Living here in this country and not being disciplined in learning the language has been the greatest digital nomad regrets that I’ve had in a long while.

Yes, I know, digital nomads don’t ‘typically’ learn the language in the country that they live in.  But, I use digital nomadism as a tool to live a life that I want.  And one of the features that I want in my life is to pick up new languages.

There is an upside to feeling this regret though. And that is, it has made my resolve to learn new languages even stronger.

In the next few years, I’ll be living in (plans as of writing at least) France, the Netherlands and Norway.   And I fully intend to learn the languages in these countries*.

Yes, I will be reaching various proficiencies. Ideally I would like to be fluent in at least 2 to 3 other languages.  I’d consider fluency to reach at the least B2 to C2 level equivalency.

So, I either just try to learn the languages and have a better life nomading in these regions or I don’t make the effort learn the languages and have a harder life.  Having already been through the motions of living in Germany with basic German skills, I don’t intend to go through this type of experience ever again.

As an FYI, I’m already bilingual. And from age 11 to 12 years old, I was taught Latin and ancient Greek as part of my elementary school curriculum. My high school offered Japanese as a second language, which I had taken up about 4 to 5 units.  I’ve been exposed to new and various languages for a long time now, however growing up in a country town Australia, I really only just stuck to being bilingual.

We will see how things go in the next few years!

First week in Germany: The Language

This YouTube video is also a good overview of the difficulties that you can have for not speaking German in Germany:

A few people have told me that you can get by with English in Berlin, but I have found this to be far from the case. From government papers, to contracts, from work opportunities to making friends and doing normal everyday activities like grocery shopping…it is immensely helpful that you know some of the German language. So while you can get by being a tourist visiting Berlin, it’s a different story when you are actually trying to live in Berlin.

This was more evident on my first day in Berlin, in Aldi. At the dairy aisle, I was thinking about which yogurt to buy when I had a man’s voice say something in German near me. I didn’t take much notice of him, then I heard the word a very strained “Bitte” and I looked sideways. It turned out that he was hauling some large boxes and I was in the way, so I quickly got out of the way. Another time was in Aldi, when the lady asked for coins…I thought that I was short of cash, so I took out a large note. She shook her head and proceeded to give me the change anyway. Since then I’ve been making the effort to actually hand something in correct cash just to avoid these types of scenarios!

This is all probably minor, but now my mind is thinking various what if scenarios when things are spoken to you in German…

Anyway, right now I am making as much of an improvement as I can to understand the language. I find that my reading and writing comprehension is better than my spoken and I probably fared the worst when it comes to understanding spoken German. Although, I was in Aldi again when I overheard and recognised “Wie gehts!” and was understanding the numbers spoken to me.