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[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”#0000ff” class=”” size=””]Conversational in Cantonese by May 2016[/pullquote]
Quickly learning a new language is never something I’ve attempted before. I knew enough Spanish at some point to test out of two semesters of foreign language credit in college but that took four years of classes to gain the basics of the language. My ultimate goal with learning Cantonese is to be conversational by our wedding in May, if not well before then. I don’t have the time nor the budget to sit in lectures (or the courage to learn with four-year old kids). That’s where italki comes in. italki connects language learners with language teachers and other enthusiasts to improve speaking, listening, reading and writing language skills.
I heard of italki while watching a video on YouTube by a polyglot who took up learning Cantonese in three months. He would practice with people on italki and do lots of vocabulary training on his own. This peaked my interests so I created an italki account and spent about a day or two messaging teachers about my interests and goals with learning Cantonese.
Sussi Su was the first to respond back to me. She seemed very organized and her discounted introductory class was only $9 for a half hour session. I finally found the courage (it was on the floor somewhere) and booked my first lesson over the weekend.
[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”#0000ff” class=”” size=””]To say I was nervous was an understatement.[/pullquote]
To say I was nervous was an understatement. I had been doing a lot of self-study and asking Connie if she could understand what I was saying, often with “no” being the answer, but I wasn’t sure if I was prepared enough to take a lesson.
My teacher pinged my on Skype asking if I was ready to begin and if we wanted to video or just audio. I was sweating bullets but I man’d up and did video.
Within the first few minutes she was able to quickly assess my grasp of the language and we began working through a custom worksheet she developed. We focused a lot on pronunciation which is critical in Cantonese and Sussi explained some of the finer grammar points that I overlooked in my two weeks of self-study.
Learning a new language is a very vulnerable experience. So far I’ve found it’s important to be brave with a supportive network. Nothing is more discouraging than being met with a “what??” but that’s not what happened on italki.
[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”#0000ff” class=”” size=””]Learning a new language is a very vulnerable experience.[/pullquote]
Right now my plan is one lesson per week, maybe two depending how encouraged I am. If I don’t do a second lesson then I’ll supplement it with a pronunciation session. I plan to test out another teacher just to be thorough and to find someone to just help me with pronunciation which should be cheaper than a full lesson with a registered teacher.
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