I am not a gifted language learner. In fact, in the past I really sucked at it. I got a below average mark in French at school and had many failed attempts at learning even “holiday” language before vacations.
In July 2015, I took on the Add1Challenge to learn a language in 90 days and I WON. The grand prize was a round trip ticket to the target language’s country and I had a wonderful vacation in Venice speaking Italian with the natives.
In the hope that it can do the same for you, let me tell you about it. This post is part information, part review of my experience.
So, What is the Add1Challenge?
The mission of the Add1Challenge is simple. Every participant has a single goal – to hold a 15 minute conversation with a native speaker after 90 days.
This is very powerful for a few different reasons.
You are not alone
Before the Add1Challenge, I was learning alone at home with no one else that shared my interest. My language learning was a hobby that was easily dropped if something else came along and it did, frequently.
When in the Add1Challenge, you have up to 100 other people to share the experience with. The Add1 Community is amazing and probably the main reason for my success. Sharing struggles and successes with the group is a truly rewarding experience – they pick you up when you are down and lift you even higher when you succeed.
Goals are realistic
When you start the challenge, you commit to a minimum amount of study. This doesn’t have to be anything drastic – I committed to 45 minutes a day, 5 days a week. You then review this after 30 days as, by this stage, you will have a very good idea about what works for you and what doesn’t.
You become accountable
Each day, you use the site to record your study. This is very easy and very rewarding. For every day you complete your commitment, you add a YAY and any you don’t, you add a NAY. This is a good motivator as the site also shows “Streaks”. If you are like me then the thought of adding a NAY after a 12 day streak is enough to get you to stop procrastinating and get that study done.
Become part of a team (or two)
When you start the challenge, you get the option of being added to two groups. A study group of other challengers learning the same language and a mastermind group of learners of other languages.
You meet with your study group once a week to share learnings, resources, your preferred teachers, anything you like that is related to your chosen language.
Your mastermind group is not language specific but you can share general language learning tips, study guides and ways to keep each other motivated. One of the main reasons for my success in the challenge is because Sara in my Mastermind group gave me a kick up the butt every time I didn’t complete the tracker. I was no longer just accountable to myself.
Get a boost from assignments and mini challenges
Throughout the challenge, there are optional assignments and mini challenges. These range from sharing your progress, writing sentences and logging speaking time. Some are individual challenges and for others you are in teams. For the competitive among us, these are a great motivator.
See real tangible progress
One of my difficulties before the challenge was I had no idea how well I was doing so went over the same basic materials time and time again.
For the challenge, you post a short video in your target language before you start and then another every 30 days.
I doubted whether or not this was a good idea before I started and always worried what others would think. I soon discovered I didn’t need to. Everyone in the community is very very supportive and the responses from other people frequently gave me a boost.
The big advantage though is that you can compare the videos and see your progress. With consistent study and support – you will be amazed at the results.
Speak to real life polyglots
During the challenge there is also the opportunity to join a Google Hangout to speak with some of the best known polyglots. Previous Hangouts have been hosted with the likes of Benny Lewis, Olly Richards, Jan van der Aa and Richard Simcott – and those are just the ones that I know about. Brian Kwong runs the challenges and Hangouts and has such an infectious enthusiasm you can’t fail to be motivated.
Make friends and change your life
During the challenge, I was part of an amazing community and that did not end after the 90 days. I have made so many wonderful friends from the Add1Challenge that I now communicate with daily. Finding genuine people with the same interests is not easy but with the Add1Challenge, they are all there waiting for you.
The Add1Challenge definitely lit a fire within me that I don’t think will ever go out. I’ve gone from someone who thought they were “too old to learn” and “just not suitable to learning languages” to a very keen and capable language learner.
If you are in need of motivation and think you can benefit from a community of keen and supportive language learners then the Add1Challenge is most definitely for you.
So what are you still doing here?
Hop on over to the Add1Challenge site and sign up, you won’t regret it. As I am now completely hooked, I will see you in there!
Still not convinced? You can check out the user reviews of the Add1Challenge on the main Language Learning Library site: Add1Challenge Reviews