Learning Slovak – With Difficulty!

We’re three weeks into this year now and that means three-quarters of the way through the uTalk challenge… and there is the slightest possibility that I am not doing as well as I had hoped.



I’m perhaps a quarter of the way through the lessons on the app – and I’ve not been super diligent about using it, either, which means that I’m losing all progress I’m making.

However, I am enjoying using the app in and of itself. The speaking game gets neglected, because I’m not willing to utter mangled Slovak to my phone on the train to and from school, but the memory game in particular is a fun one. So yes, the app is cute and user-friendly and useful – but there are some things I’m going to need to do in the next week to make sure that it’s useful to me as a whole.

For one, I’m going to have to find a guide to Slovak pronunciation somewhere and practice it. Most letters seem to have the same or similar sounds as English (or German), but there are some that just don’t make any sense to me; and this means that even if I slow the speaker speed to half of normal, I don’t quite catch how they’re saying it.

Second, I’m going to have to dedicate some time to doing the speaking game – and just pronouncing the words in general. Speaking is my weakest skill in any language (even, I dare say, in English), but it isn’t helped by the fact that Slovak is the first Slavic language I’ve tried in any depth and getting my mouth around those consonants is kind of difficult. Practice will get me there, but I need to remember to do that.

Finally, I have to make sure I spend time on the app in general. I’m going to set myself a target of 10 minutes a day from tomorrow until Friday 29th (I’m going to Rome the final weekend of January, so I don’t know if I’ll have time to use the app much) – which is only 80 minutes total, but it’s really getting myself onto the app that’s the important thing. After that, I tend to play on it for a while.

So yeah, that’s where I’m at. Oh, and here’s a screenshot of my (low) score, for those of you interested:

IMG_4380How’s everyone else getting on with the challenge? I know one of the EuroTalk staff has finished the whole app already, wooh! How’s everything else going this January? Let me know! 🙂


Mid-January Update (OR: I haven’t actually gone into hibernation I promise)


Honestly, it’s been a quick-fire couple of weeks for me. I’m surprised because January is usually the most sluggish of months – it kind of feels like a long nap punctuated by periods of activity, but this year hasn’t been like that at all. About half of that is down to the fact that I’m working (and working in a job where I have to be at least semi-conscious, lest I miss some of the gems that the students tell me in class) and the other half is that I just have to get everything done myself – there’s no one to pick up my slack.

So although I signed myself up for a bunch of different challenges in those last few days of 2014, I’ve found that I’ve not been making quite as much progress as I’d have liked. Really, what else is new – so I’ve resolved to not worry myself about it too much. However, I have managed to get a few points on the uTalk app for that challenge (Slovak is hard; I’m not used to all those consonants!) and I’ve completed a handful of days for the A Polyglot New Year challenge.

I’ve also finally settled on some tangible goals for the year, which is nice. I’m sure I won’t achieve all of them but it’s something to work towards for the next twelve months.

This is really a short and sweet kind of entry – but I have some more things planned for the rest of January, including how I feel about the uTalk challenge, how my Spanish is going (hint: I definitely need to put in more effort) and, crucially, how I’m planning to motivate myself after this weird New Year slump (as well as some surprises, of course).

How are you feeling about January? Are you racing through the days, feeling all motivated and energised? Or are you in a kind of slump too? Let me know! 🙂

New Year Challenges – January 2015

Alrighty, so we’re here on the last day of 2014 and I’ve got a blog post for you! I’m going to do some goal-setting tomorrow but for today, I thought I’d compile a list of all the language challenges I’ve found that are taking place or starting in January 2015. Just a little something for you all to consider! 😉

Challenges Jan 2015

Continue reading “New Year Challenges – January 2015”

uTalk January Challenge: Which Language Will I Learn?

Drum roll, please!

… Okay, maybe not. So no one guessed which language I was planning on learning for the uTalk January Challenge, but oh well. Without any further ado, the language I’ve picked for January iiiiiiiiis…..

uTalk ScreenshotSlovak!

So I have a few reasons for choosing Slovak, which will be shared with you all on Tuesday (I’ll let you know about that) – but I’m really excited to start it. Aside from a brief flirtation with Russian, I’ve never really invested any time into Slavic languages and it’s going to be interesting to have a bit of a change.

For now, though, I’m packing up to head home for the holidays, so I’m going to say good night to you all (or good afternoon/evening/morning/whatever it is where you are) and once again, ask for anyone else who’s planning on doing the challenge to get in touch. Learning languages can be fun on your own, but it’s much more fun with other people! 🙂 Have a nice weekend!


uTalk January Challenge

I know, I know. I have plenty to do already (today alone I’m supposed to be translating and studying Spanish and simplifying an article for tomorrow for school and presumably packing at some point) – so what am I doing making a post about a challenge in January?

Planning ahead, that’s what! 😉

So I read this post over on the EuroTalk blog when it was first put online and thought that their idea to compete against each other using the uTalk app in January seemed kind of cool, but that was about it. I think I maybe glossed over it a little – I certainly didn’t think about doing it myself. I was still sorting out my own Spanish challenge in my head, so this wasn’t that big a deal.

Fast forward to today and the link to that blog post was published on twitter again – but this time with the addition that ‘Spanish is the most popular choice so far in the uTalk challenge…’ Wait, what? So I moseyed back on over and, lo and behold, there’s a sentence that I must have missed, where it says if you email them and let them know which language you’ve chosen, they’ll send you a code to unlock the Essentials upgrade and you can join in the challenge. (The gist of the challenge is simple – don’t use the app until the 1st of January and then whoever’s first to score maximum points/whoever has the highest score come 31st January wins.)

I emailed them, I got a lovely reply and then an email with my promo code all within about half an hour. You do have to have an iPhone/iPad to join this challenge (the app isn’t available yet on android, I don’t think) – but it seems pretty cool. I did the basics for Spanish in the app today (I’ve not chosen that language for the challenge, for obvious reasons) and it looks fun; there are even games where it records you speaking which I haven’t really used before. (I turned the speaking off in duolingo because I used to use it on the bus to uni last year and no one needs to hear me mumbling German to myself.)

I have, then, two questions for you all. One, is anyone going to take up this challenge with me? I’m very intrigued to see what an app alone could teach me in a month (I’m not seriously investing in the language I’ve picked right now – I have so much else to do!) and my competitive streak is well up for the idea of a challenge like this. Two, any guesses as to which language I’ve chosen? uTalk has about 100 different languages to choose from (which does include, I think, four or five varieties of English, which is kind of awesome) – so which one do you think I picked? I’m going to post again on Friday – I’m flying home for Christmas on Saturday – and I’ll reveal it then. 🙂 Let me know what you think it might be!