The 200-hour Challenge: Italian

The 200-hour Challenge: Italian

Two hundred hours is a perfect amount of time to invest in upping your skills in a language. Building language proficiency in a foreign language requires an investment of time engaged in understanding and using new words and phrases. While we can track and note our progress and improvements every day, noticeable growth can take some time to see. Two hundred hours is a doable chunk of time that can be worked into many people’s lives easily and offer concrete results.

I began this challenge on April 1st. I entered the challenge as an A2 level speaker of Italian. I attained this level by listening to Italian friends as a student in Spain. Later, I created a task notebook that evolved into Italian for Travel and Beginners.

Phase 1

In order to improve my skills, I needed to carve out some time to learn more Italian. As a novice-level (or CEFR level A) speaker of Italian, this time needed to be spent on activities that deal with language at the word and phrase level. This is unlike more advanced levels, where input from novels and films can be done in longer chunks of time. I also broke out the project into four phases, allowing for time to check in on skills, do away with activities that are not moving my skills forward and change course if necessary.

I decided last month that it was time to level up, and spent six days travelling to Milan, Verona and Venice. My partner is French, and we use French and English to communicate, so I was not immersed in Italian completely. The time immersed in Italian during our trip added up to 25 hours. Those twenty-five hours in Italian were spent speaking, reading signs, eavesdropping as often as possible, and creating phrasebooks and task notebooks.

Upon our return, I mapped out the types of activities I would do and how I would fit them into my life to complete the first phase. I spend about an hour a day in the car, so turning that into learning time is important to me. I reviewed Collins Easy French, Earworms and Pimsleur’s Italian Level 1 (1-5) to complete Phase 1.

Phase 2

My fifty hours in Phase 2 looks like this:

Pimsleur Level 1 (review from lesson 6 on) and complete Pimsleur Level 2 for thirty minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening= 25 hours
Flash Academy, Flash Sticks and Post-its all around me (physical immersion)= 25 hours

I am a huge fan of Post-its for language teaching and saw some while out shopping at a WH Smith a few years back. I thought they were cute and clever. In particular, I liked the color-coding of vocabulary and how basic pronunciation can be learned on that little piece of paper. I think this can be a real help to people just starting out in Romance languages. I picked up a pack for a young person I know who was just starting in French. I was later offered an opportunity to give the app and online resources a try.

I had no idea that the Flash Academy existed. In addition to the Post-it notes, there are loads of fun resources such as flashcards, tutorials and games:

There is also a feature that provides feedback on pronunciation in each lesson:

I found the lessons in the app similar to Duolingo and Babbel, where you complete words and phrases, match, listen. That said, I like how there are short mini-tutorials embedded within the lesson. If you don’t want to read through them, you can learn via immersion, trial and error or old-fashioned review and repetition.

My two favorite features of Flash Academy are the games and the object translator. The games were enjoyable, but required thought. This is a good thing. There is always a choice to be made as to what the correct word is. My vocabulary is expanding and I am having fun. Here is a peek at a couple of the games:

After the photo was scanned, I selected Italian. The written translation appeared and the sentence was read. I love this feature, as it grants you easy access to the vocabulary in your environment. The photo and translation are then saved to your camera roll for future reference.

Want to learn more about the 2–hour Challenge? Ready to start? Learn more here:

The 200-hour Challenge

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