The Add1Challenge is awesome! I have always been a below average language learner and I am not ashamed to admit it. I floundered around trying to learn another language and never progressed beyond the very basics.
What I didn’t realize is that it was less to do with my ability and more to do with my approach. I was learning alone with no support and no real idea what I was doing so kept going round in circles.
Then I found the Add1Challenge. The idea is that you set a daily routine and work towards speaking with a native speaker after 90 days.
The Add1Challenge provides you with the tools you need to get you started. It has a daily tracker to log your progress, mini challenges to keep you motivated and you log a video showing your progress every 30 days. (4 in total – before you start, and then after day 30, 60 and 90). This is a fantastic way to see how you are doing.
The real strength in the Add1Challenge though is the community. For the first time ever I was learning with other people. People to encourage me daily, share their own stories, concerns and successes. This is an amazing motivator and picked me back up on many occasions when I was flagging. Out of all of the language resources I have found, this was by far the most valuable and changed me from a failed language learner to a competent and enthusiastic one.
The cons for me are that for what you get it's expensive. There's the Facebook community group and the set structure they have with the same activities each time. I also don't like that they raised the fee and cut the prize value. I feel as well there are too many people so you'll get people liking your videos but I saw one person whose video wasn't working and it had a number of likes which showed that people were just liking things without viewing. It's understandable as there are so many people. It's also your luck of what your group experience will be like. My mastermind group didn't have much participation and it was only me who was trying, so I gave up trying to get anything out of it. And for my study group there were issues with time zones.
I think you can get the same experience through participating in other groups and doing your own tracker.
However, if you start well but then the motivation tapers off, or you lack the structure to achieve your goals, this may be just what you're looking for. The challenge allows you to (mostly) dictate your own schedule. It provides mini challenges and motivation. If you choose to, you can get involved in a smaller group where you check in with each other. If you're struggling, you just have to reach out.
The community is filled with language lovers so if you've ever felt like the odd man out at a party (What's your hobby? I learn languages. Oh, why?) then you will find a place where you fit in perfectly.
It is wonderful to be around a group of people dedicated to learning a new language and who share the excitement of being able to do so. The mini tasks along the way help you achieve your goals. For me the writing challenge has helped me tremendously in each challenge.
The videos help keep you accountable to yourself and the other members of the group, and also provide you with concrete proof that you are making progress. Contrasting Day 0 with Day 90 videos is always satisfying.
It is sort of like being on a track team. Everyone competes to achieve their personal best (In this case language learning) and everyone who actively participates “wins” (by learning a language.)
But for Add1Challenge, and challenge it is, I would probably never have started speaking Kurmancî, never have dared venture into Eastern Turkey, never have met my wonderful teacher or any other of those who are now my good friends, never have ventured into this whole bew dimension of my life. I've just finished my 3rd Add1Challenge for Kurmancî. Progress is slow. This is not the faultnof Add1Challenge, butnis a result of challenges peculiar to learning Kurmancî, e.g. Having to look many words up in a Kurmancî Turkish dictionary and then try to find the Turkish word in a Turkish English dictionary! I can now talk about a broader range of subjects than I would have imagined. This would never have happened without Add1Challenge. Not only does the method work, but the support and encouragement of the community has kept me and manynothers going.
For me, the best thing about the challenge was seeing that other people have similar problems and that we can help each other. Now I'm waiting for the next Add 1 Challenge to open, so I can take on Korean!
With a forum on which to vent, share, support and be supported, Add1 is an amazingly inclusive community. But it is also much more than that. There are teams, study groups to practise your specific language, and mastermind groups made up of learners of different languages to share tips and hints and often motivational butt-kicks. There are games and mini-challenges and competitions to encourage everyone to keep on pushing through the inevitable sloughs and troughs that occur in whatever activity you're working on. And, perhaps most important of all, there are friends who are genuinely interested in your progress, willing to pick you up and dust you off when you fall, or cheer and celebrate when things are going well for you.
It's a bit like being back in primary school! Except without the criticism for incorrect work, chastisement for talking in class, punishment for not doing your homework, admonishments for day-dreaming, or detention for misdeamours. So, actually nothing like primary school then.
Brian Kwong, founder of Add1Challenge, has seemingly endless energy and apparently reads every single post that anyone has ever written. He certainly seems to respond to every one of them!
Viktorija Juskevica was there when I was on an active Challenge, sending out emails, answering questions, and apparently ever-patient and ever-present on FB chat to help individual Challengers with any problems that might arise with teams, groups, mini-challenges and much, much more.
Nina Breitner has taken over from Vik and is doing an equally stellar job.
Gary McCann, (founder of this site), another apparently indefatigable, tireless, and selfless guy, is also hanging around there, helping out with any tech problems that might arise.
So, yep, Add1Challenge has it all! Seriously, if you're looking for motivation and inspiration to boost or kick-start your language-learning, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better, more fun resource than the Add1Challenge!
If you are learning alone and struggling to stay motivated then I whole heartedly recommend the Add1Challenge.