My Spanish experience with the Lingoda Marathon

What’s Lingoda?

Lingoda is an online Language School where you can study English, German, Spanish, French and Business English from beginner to advanced. The instructors are qualified teachers who are native speakers. You take classes online, learn from anywhere at any time with wifi. Personally, I took a lot of my lessons in my pyjamas lying in bed – it was so unique and comfortable! For those of you who are camera shy, don’t worry! The teachers keep their cameras on but students need not show their faces at all.

What’s the Lingoda Marathon?
The Lingoda Language Marathon is a 3-month challenge where you study every single day and make an impact on your fluency.

There are two types of Marathons:
The Full Marathon: you take one class a day for three months (100% refund)
The Half Marathon: you take 15 classes a month for three months (50% refund)

If you are keen to participate in the marathon, register before the 19th of September 2019. The Marathon starts on September 23, 2019 and lasts until December 21, 2019. Keep reading till the end because there’s a discount code for you!

My experience with Lingoda

I decided to take the Half Marathon. I started out as a complete beginner, but with my background in French, Spanish was not too difficult to catch on to. As someone who previously said I’d never lean Spanish because I found it boring, I completely swallowed my words and started falling in love with the language.

I enjoyed the group lessons, meeting fellow learners and engaging with friendly, helpful native teachers. I’ve been self-studying languages for years and it was such a welcome change to be in a virtual classroom environment. Some of my favorite moments are when instructors made fellow students and I create our own situational dialogues. We came up with such funny, crazy situations! That’s definitely a way to make a language stick – by laughing!

More than 15,000 people have participated in 5 Lingoda Marathons in the past 3 years. For many it has transformed their lives, helping them get a new job, make life-changing friendships and even study or work in another country. I can say this is true for myself as well. I’ve never progressed so quickly in a foreign language yet. The pace is fast, the teachers are fantastic, and the lesson content is engaging, useful and challenging.

But don’t just listen to me – other students have shared their experiences with the Lingoda team and you can check it out on their website. I would also like to encourage you to visit their Instagram profile for more inspiring stories! Lingoda also has a useful blog with articles about language learning. I’ve learnt quite a few new Spanish words from their blog too!

Pros and Cons of the Lingoda Marathon

ProsCons
– Unique PDF lessons that teachers go through each class. You can download the lesson materials beforehand to prepare yourself for the lesson too.

– Group environment: it’s fun to engage with other students at your own level and learn from the talents and mistakes of others.

– Ability to book lessons with any teacher at various times. I took lessons before work in the mornings or at night on weekdays, or anytime on a weekend. The flexibility is something you won’t get from a traditional classroom setting.

– No need to take the lessons in order! I hate learning numbers and I specifically chose to skip lessons with numbness until I was mentally ready for it. Although there’s a set curriculum you can follow, you won’t be punished for jumping around and signing up for lessons you feel like doing!

– Spanish only environment: I can count on one hand the number of times the instructors used English. It’s an excellent way to get immersed in a language when your instructor only speaks it!
– I only realised later that it’s possible to change your level during the marathon. I got comfortable with A1 about halfway through the marathon and only later did I figure out I could change to A2.

– Not easy to stick with one tutor. Because of timezones and availability of certain tutors, it’s hard to stay with one instructor the whole time. On the one hand it makes it fun to learn from different people, but it’s hard when you’ve grown to like a certain teacher and can’t always attend their lessons.

– No private lessons if you’re participating in the Marathon. Marathon lessons are group-based, which can be intimidating for some, but remember that there’s always the option for private lessons outside of the Marathon!

Last call to register for the Lingoda Marathon!

Due to high demand, Lingoda has extended the marathon registration period – registrations now close on the 19th of September 2019. This time around, there’s no entry fee and your payment goes immediately towards your first month! The payment for the 2nd and 3rd month will be charged in the following months.

How to get your money back:
For participants of the Full Marathon: if you attend all 30 classes, one a day for 3 months, Lingoda will give you all of your money back for the full Marathon! For Half Marathon students, you are eligible for a 50% refund if you successfully commit 15 classes per month during 3 months.

How to participate in the Marathon:
To participate and secure your spot, you need to pay the price for the first month and other 2 payments will be charged automatically. Payment 2 – October 16; and payment 3 – November 15. Lingoda will refund your tuition fee in full if you follow the contest rules in the terms and conditions.

We love a discount!

For readers of my blog, you can use my voucher code TALK88 to get โ‚ฌ10 (US$11) off your first month’s payment. Spots are limited, so be sure to secure a place soon. Don’t miss the last Lingoda Marathon promotion!

Use this link to register and be sure to use the voucher code.

Be sure to check the Terms and Conditions carefully to get familiar with Marathon rules. As always, I’m happy to answer your questions too, so feel free to email me through the contact form on this website, or slide into my Instagram DM’s! ๐Ÿ˜Š


Disclaimer: this is a sponsored blog post. All opinions remain my own.

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Improve your Korean in 6 unique ways

You may have just finished your Korean textbook or passed your first Korean class. Now you feel accomplished but not sure where to go next. You might be bridging the gap from beginner to intermediate, or making your way from intermediate to advanced. Wherever you are in your journey, there are a few things you can incorporate into your day to improve your Korean fast. Note that most of the tips in this post might not apply to beginner learners.

1. LISTEN TO PODCASTS IN KOREAN (NOT JUST ABOUT KOREAN)

If you’re over listening to podcasts and audio lessons like TTMIK and Koreanpod101, you might want to try listening to podcasts made for the Korean market. Here are my favorites that I listen to on Google Podcasts:
๐ŸŽง 2018 ๋ฌธ์žฅ์˜ ์†Œ๋ฆฌ (The Voice of Text)
Description (KR): ์ด ๋ฐฉ์†ก์€ ํ•œ๊ตญ๋ฌธํ™”์˜ˆ์ˆ ์œ„์›ํšŒ์—์„œ ์šด์˜ํ•˜๋Š” ์ธํ„ฐ๋„ท ๋ฌธํ•™ ๋ผ๋””์˜ค <๋ฌธ์žฅ์˜ ์†Œ๋ฆฌ> ํŒŸ์บ์ŠคํŠธ ๋ฒ„์ „์ž…๋‹ˆ๋‹ค.
Description (EN): This is the podcast version of the Internet literary radio program called “The Voice of Text”, run by the Korean Culture and Arts Council.

๐ŸŽง [KBS]๋ผ๋””์˜ค ๋‹ค์ด์–ด๋ฆฌ ๊ทธ ๋‚จ์ž ๊ทธ ์—ฌ์ž (That man, that woman, KBS Radio Diary)
Description (KR): ์šฐ๋ฆฌ๋Š” ๋ˆ„๊ตฌ๋‚˜ ์ผ๊ธฐ๋ฅผ ์”๋‹ˆ๋‹ค. ์—ฐํ•„๋กœ ์“ฐ๋Š” ๊ทธ ๋‚จ์ž, ํœด๋Œ€ํฐ์— ์“ฐ๋Š” ๊ทธ ์—ฌ์ž, ๊ทธ๋ฆฌ๊ณ  ๋งˆ์Œ์— ์“ฐ๋Š” ๊ทธ ๋‚จ์ž, ๊ทธ ์—ฌ์ž. ์šฐ๋ฆฌ ์ผ์ƒ์˜ ์ผ๊ธฐ๋กœ ์˜ํ™” ๊ฐ™์€ ๊ฟˆ์„ ๊พธ๋Š” ์‹œ๊ฐ„์ž…๋‹ˆ๋‹ค. ์ข‹์€ ์Œ์•…๊ณผ ํ•จ๊ป˜ ๋“ฃ๊ณ  ์‹ถ๋‹ค๋ฉด ๋งค์ผ ๋ฐค ์ž์ • KBS 2๋ผ๋””์˜ค 101.6Mhz๋ฅผ ์ฐพ์•„์ฃผ์„ธ์š”.
Description (EN): We all keep diaries. There’s the man who writes in pencil, the woman who types on her phone, and then those who write in their hearts. Through our daily diaries, we have time to dream like our life is a movie. If you want to listen to good music with this, tune into KBS 2 Radio every night, on 10.6Mhz.

๐ŸŽง [MBC] ๋ฐ•๊ฒฝ์˜ ๊ฟˆ๊พธ๋Š” ๋ผ๋””์˜ค (Park Kyung’s Dreaming Radio)
Lindie’s description: This radio show is hosted by Park Kyung from the Kpop group Block B. He’s quirky and has a lovely voice for the radio. The only downside to this is that the songs are cut short, but for language learning it’s good because the radio show will mostly be him talking. He talks about various daily life topics with different guests and relates the topics to music.

๐ŸŽงย [MBC]ย ์Œ์•…์˜ ์ˆฒ ์ •์Šนํ™˜์ž…๋‹ˆ๋‹ค (Indie Radio, Live Forest)
Singer Jung Seunghwan runs this radio show, and has a soft voice that might relax you so much that you’ll fall asleep – but if you stay awake, it’ll be good language practice because he speaks at a natural speed and talks about daily topics. He’s funny and I often find myself laughing out loud and things he says. He also reads messages from listeners and these are great to learn new vocabulary from.


You can make listening to a podcast a learning experience for yourself by trying to write down what speakers say. Some podcast apps like Google Podcasts let you slow down or speed up the pace, so don’t worry if you can’t understand natural speed at first! Then, go over the script and highlight new words. Write them down in context with their example sentences, and write down new expressions and slang you hear too. Read them out loud in different voices, paces and mental situations so you can solidify it into your memory.

To summarize: 1. Listen to the podcast once through > 2. Write down sentences you hear > Highlight a new word > Write the definition of the word > Make your own sentence using the word.

You can get your sentences checked by native speakers on websites or apps like HiNative, HelloTalk, iTalki or even Facebook groups dedicated to learning the language.

2. SPEAKING PRACTICE

You can talk to yourself when youโ€™re walking around the house. You can also record yourself sometimes. What I like to do is shadowing dramas and podcasts and repeating what people say. I’ve found that after watching a movie in one language, my brain tends to try and think in that language after, or I’ll find myself walking around the house repeating phrases I’ve heard in the movie. Can you picture how much your accent and vocabulary will improve if you’re immersing yourself by speaking and listening practice every day? If you encounter new words, and you hear those words repeatedly, it’ll start to solidify in your memory. I’ve learnt many words without ever needing to write down what they mean, just because I expose myself to hearing the words as much as I can.

Improving speaking skills by talking to yourself is good, but it’s even better to talk to native speakers. The best way to get proper speaking practice in if you can’t find native speakers near you is to get a tutor on italki. Having a native speaker to chat to or correct your mistakes is one of the best ways you can start sounding more natural in a language and increase your vocabulary, as well as working on your listening skills. I use italki for Mandarin Chinese and Tagalog practice, and it’s boosted my confidence in speaking by leaps and bounds.

Many people write to me and say they’re afraid of getting a tutor because they don’t feel ready to speak – but you’ll never really feel ready until you throw yourself in the deep end and try. Even if you know only a few words, the tutor is there to help you – it’s their job to teach you and guide you, and they’re the last person who will judge your or laugh at you. If you’re keen to use italki, feel free to use this link to get $10 in italki credits after booking your first lesson! Note that I titled this post ways to improve Korean without needing lessons – you don’t need to go to a class or book specific lessons with someone on italki – there are many tutors and regular native speakers who are more than happy to book single sessions with you to get your speaking practice in.

Alternatively, you can try apps like HiNative, HelloTalk, Wakie, Goodnight, Saito-san, Tandem or a website like MyLanguageExchange or Penpalworld to meet native speakers and practice talking to them.

3. JOURNAL IN KOREAN

I’ve been journalling in Korean for years. It’s so funny to look back at my high school diaries and see how bad my Korean was but how passionate I was to try and express things in the language!

Things you write in your journal are related to your daily life, which is exactly what your daily conversations are about with others. If you donโ€™t know words, you can mix languages! It’s OK to just throw in a few Korean words here and there until you know enough to make a full sentence. Use as many vocabulary words you know in Korean and mix languages until you look up the words and learn them and use them. Be sure to get a native speaker to correct it though!

4. VOCAB NOTEBOOK OR WORD LISTS ON YOUR PHONE

You can use a small notepad and write words down and keep it with you when you are commuting or waiting in queues. Alternatively, make a word list on your phone or use Quizlet. I’ve recently started using Quizlet to make flashcards of new vocabulary words, having shifted away from a larger notebook. I find Quizlet more user-friendly than Anki, mainly because as a UI/UX designer, I’m very sensitive to the way things look and function. I found Anki clunky and boring to use, but I know many people who can’t live without Anki. Although I don’t use it anymore, you can see my Korean vocabulary notebook in use in this video:

5. JOIN KOREAN FORUMS; USE KOREAN SEARCH ENGINES

Some of you might be asking where to encounter new words. All you need to do is start living like you are Korean. If you’re Googling something, do it in Korean. You can start using Korean search engines like Naver or Daum.

If you’re a Kpop fan, you can try joining a fancafe, or follow some Twitter threads in Korean about your favorite artists. Hashtags on Instagram and Twitter are useful – if you learn a new word you can search its tag and join communities online related to it. Fully immerse yourself in your hobbies and interests – but try to do it in Korean!

6. PARTICIPATE IN ONLINE CHALLENGES

If you’re having a hard time staying motivated through self-study, you can always participate in online challenges and join a community of fellow language-learners who will keep you motivated. Some of these challenges include:
Add1 Challenge
Record Yourself challenges on Instagram
90 Days with Drops
LanguageJam (though for this, you’re assigned a language)

If you’re active in the language-learning community on Instagram, you’ll see lots of people doing these kinds of challenges and it’ll be easy for you to join in and learn about them.

Summary

Thanks for reading! I hope these tips are helpful for you. Remember to check out my Korean learning playlist on YouTube and to follow me on Instagram or Twitter for more language related content.

Having a successful language exchange

Exchanges vs Partners

LANGUAGE EXCHANGE EVENTS
If you live in a big city, you’ll most likely be able to find a language exchange event near you. You can search on Facebook events or on Meetup for language exchanges. The one I usually attend in Singapore is called Mundo Lingo. Mundo Lingo is an international language exchange event held in cities across the world. It’s a place I go to get language practice in, meet fellow language learners and build new friendships. It’s been wonderful getting practice in, but there are times I get tired or feel like the exchange hasn’t been helpful.

LANGUAGE EXCHANGE PARTNERS
Unlike an event where many people mingle and practice together, having a language partner is a lot more personal and may or may not be face to face. You can meet a language exchange partner on an app like Tandem, HelloTalk or HiNative. I’ve also met partners on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook – just reach out to fellow learners or native speakers and see if there’s someone willing to practice with you.

MAKING THE MOST OF IT
A question I often get is “how can I get the most out of my language partner or exchange event?” Here are some things to keep in mind at exchanges or with language partners!

Practical tips

โžก๏ธ Communicate your expectations. Some people are only at events to make friends and I’ve experienced many who just keep talking in English even though we have multiple languages in common. It’s important to tell them you’d like to practice a language too!

โžก๏ธ Give and take. People often struggle with yielding languages. You want to practice your TL; your friend wants to practice theirs. You can set time limits and practice your TL for a while and then switch to practicing theirs. I find that many successful exchange events have language tables where you only speak one language per table.

โžก๏ธ Be open to corrections. Remember, we’re here to learn together! There’s no need to be embarrassed about making a mistake – that’s how we improve! (It’s always polite to ask someone if they’re OK with corrections before you interrupt or bombard them, though)

โžก๏ธ If they’re not serious, say bye. I’ve had a woman talk very ignorantly about South Africa to my face and she rambled on and on (in English). I soon realized she just wanted to debate useless things and wasn’t there for language practice at all. I politely excused myself and moved on to another group.

โžก๏ธ Schedule time. If you’re chatting to a language exchange partner online, it’s a good idea to set time in the week to intentionally practice with them (especially if you’re timezones apart).

Some pics of what it’s like at Mundo Lingo

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See you at Polyglot Conference 2019!

Hello, friends!

I’m very excited to announce that I’ll be speaking at this year’s Polyglot Conference in Fukuoka, Japan. The conference runs from 18 to 20 October 2019. You can buy tickets and get more information here.

I’d like to share with you the outline of my topic:

Holistic language learning through cultural immersion and culture shock: stories from a Third Culture Kid

Acquiring fluency in a language requires a holistic approach to learning: through immersing yourself in the language fully. With bringing a new language into your life so deeply, youโ€™re sometimes met with culture shock too, in the form of adopting a new culture and linguistic identity. In this talk Iโ€™ll focus on the role that immersion and culture shock play in languages. Iโ€™ll discuss how to learn a language through the internet, pop culture, humour and stepping out out your comfort zone. With reference to how I learn Asian languages, Iโ€™ll discuss how we can create immersive spaces for ourselves to learn languages without necessarily needing to travel. You can expect to hear stories about faking it till I make it in Japanese, multilingual prank calls and accidentally going viral in Korea.

That’s it! I’ll keep the rest of the content a surprise – you’ll have to see me there or watch the YouTube recording after the conference if you can’t make it. I’m super keen to meet all my polyglot inspirations in person. I’ve been following notable polyglots like Richard Simcott for years, I’ve watched a lot of Bong Sou’s videos, and I’ve always wanted to meet MissLinguistic to name a few. Here’s the speaker list for 2019! I also know a lot of you who follow my blog will be there too! Here’s to a wonderful Polyglot Conference – the first in Asia! See you there!

In the mean time, feel free to check out my videos on YouTube, Tweet me, or ask me anything on my Tumblr.

A month of Spanish: resources & journey

Hello, friends!

I’ve been learning Spanish for one month now. Time flies! Some of my older YouTube viewers may recall that I often said Spanish is the one language I would never learn. Never say never! Circumstances have changed and here I find myself immersing myself in this beautiful language.

Here’s a video I made when I just started learning, about three weeks ago from today.

Let’s get into the resources I’m using. It’s easy to become excited about a new language and want to buy all the textbooks and courses and resources, but I am trying to approach this from a more minimalist perspective. I’m not using a single textbook. That being said, it’s important to remember that I’m participating in the Lingoda Marathon and I do take lessons 3-5 times a week, so I get most of my grammar and vocabulary from there.

Duolingo

I’ve actively been using Duolingo, too. I am happy to see that after posting this on my Instagram, lots of you joined Duolingo and started following each other! How cool is it that we are growing our language community day by day? (If you’d like to follow me, my username is LindieBotes)

Something really cool that I’m not sure you may know about Duolingo is how different the web version is from the app. I’ve only been using the app to complete the exercises and level up, but upon exploring the web version, I was pleasantly surprised. I knew there was a forum, but didn’t know there are word lists (WITH EXAMPLES!) and a dictionary. My favorite feature by far is to scroll through my word list, see the words I haven’t been practicing recently, and click on them to see example sentences.

Spanish Dict

Many people, including my mom who is also learning Spanish, have recommended Spanishdict.com to me. It’s fantastic for conjugating verbs! What’s more is they have vocabulary flashcards and activities too. Here’s an example: you learn a word and have to type it to repeat. You’ll do the same for a few words, and then it’ll prompt you with the English and you need to type the Spanish.

SpanishDict also has an in-depth grammar guide. Something I struggle with a lot are prepositions, and luckily they have a whole page dedicated to understanding prepositions.

Lessons on Lingoda

As mentioned above, I’m taking classes with Lingoda. It’s pretty simple to use because you can book a lesson according to your level but you aren’t obliged to follow the curriculum in order. This is good for people who already have a base in the language and want to skip the basic stuff like greetings. The lessons I’m taking are group lessons, so there are always different people in the video call, which keeps things interesting. I’ve found some tutors who are hilarious and fun and others who are serious and somewhat dry – so it’s really tricky to judge an entire platform based on a few tutors. The lessons are all very well structured and each time, a PDF document is followed with activities and questions. Tutors make sure to give each student a time to read or make a sentence, so I find it to be very balanced and well-run overall.

With teachers talking and explaining the whole time, it’s difficult to take notes. If you are going to use Lingoda, I suggest taking notes of important things in the lesson but taking time after the lesson to go through the PDF and really write down the details. Tutors also don’t ask or remind you to do homework, but at the end of each PDF there’s a homework section for you to practice on your own. Below are some of my messy in-class notes:

Language exchange

I’m also practicing with a language exchange partner from Mexico on HelloTalk. I’m also using a minimalist approach here. Language exchange apps make it easy for us to switch between people and always look for someone new. We rarely stick with one partner. I’m too exhausted, busy and tired to spend my time chatting to 500 people, and I also don’t want to be on my phone all the time (except when I’m on Duolingo, lol). So, once I found a language exchange partner on HelloTalk that I feel comfortable talking to, I just keep talking to them and I don’t send message requests to others.

Tandem is an alternative to HelloTalk but I find that message requests on Tandem are insane and I cannot keep up. It affects my mental health because I feel bad ignoring people who genuinely just want to talk. It’s just way too much. I deactivated my account on Tandem and will be sticking to HelloTalk for now.

Entertainment

It’s perfect timing that The Projector cinema here in Singapore has a Mexican Film Festival going on! I watched a movie this weekend called Sueรฑo en Otro Idioma, and was really excited not only by the fascinating plot line but also by how much Spanish I understood after one month of learning (combined with my background in French).

Music is one of my main motivating factors for learning a new language. I’ve always enjoyed Spanish music, especially Spanish worship music. Here’s my Spotify playlist for Spanish!

Online friends

Something else I do is browse Twitter in Spanish. One of my good friends on Twitter is a fellow polyglot Ivan, from Venezuela. I find the things he retweets interesting. Though I don’t understand 100% of the content, by following people like Ivan I’m able to get a lot of Spanish on my screen and learn new words and phrases by seeing it often. I’m also close friends with Angela from Passion For Dreaming on YouTube, and she speaks Spanish too.

I’d like to give a quick shoutout to the Spanish community here on the internet. I’ve received so much help, encouragement and messages from you guys! Sometimes it’s hard for me to reply to your messages individually, but please know that I read each and every one of them and it really encourages me and keeps me going.

Thanks for following along with my journey. For more updates, you can find me here:
Twitter
Instagram
YouTube
Facebook


This post is not sponsored.