Clear the List October 2019: My italki Speaking Challenge Plans

clearthelist (1).png

Hello and welcome to another blog post in the Clear The List series, the monthly language learning round-up about language learning goals and progress. Gretchen Rubin says

The days are long, but the years are short.

Well, I get the feeling that the days were >< this long in September. Nothing like a check-in post to remember what even happened!

If you’re inspired to try your own check-in, why not join our #clearthelist blog round-up hosted by Shannon Kennedy and Lindsay Williams.

What Happened in September?

In the last week of September I spoke a lot of German! My husband is a fairly inactive German learner and we switched to the language for all conversations for a bit. I have not found it realistic to just “teach him German by speaking all the time”, so that short-term effort is unlikely to stick. Read this if you want to know more about learning languages through a partner.

The Fluent Show

First of all: The Fluent Show has opened a Patreon page. This allows all listeners to become involved in making the show with a small monthly pledge (though you can send a huge one if you like).

If you want to become a part of the community, please visit our Patreon page.

If you listen to just one episode from September 2019, I recommend the exciting recap of Langfest in Montréal. You’ll be transported there instantly!


Language Goals and Progress

Here’s the short summary of what you’re about to read: I didn’t do much in one big chunk, but I did lots of little things and they added up. Or in another Gretchen Rubin quote…”what you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.”

Mandarin Chinese

I am feeling progress with this language. There is not a huge jump ahead as I’m not putting the big hours in, but still it’s going from noisenoisenoisenoisenoise to noise-word-noisenoisenoise-something-I-know. And phone typing in Chinese is also easier now. Hooray!

Here’s how I did with my goals:

  • Look for a tutor and ask for listening support

I did look but I didn’t book. Hah! Must do better in October.

I did use Yabla this month to start a bit of TV in Chinese. I found a fun reality TV show on there and I’m excited that there are a few more learning materials available to me compared to Welsh.

  • Use LingQ 4 days a week

No LingQ but it’s been an appy month anyway (GEDDIT?), as I moved ahead and levelled up with the wonderful Lingodeer. It is the best app-based course I’ve seen in Chinese.

By the way, I contacted Lingodeer and asked them for a discount code so you can now get 15% off Lingodeer membership using the code FLUENTSHOW.

  • Vague speaking ambitions

I recorded myself reading the Chinese challenges on Lingodeer, but beyond that there wasn’t much progress. Again, stuck on getting a tutor.


File under “what you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while”. In other words: I spoke Welsh, I read Welsh, I heard some Welsh, I typed a bit, but none of it in huge quantities.

Language Goals for October 2019

This month I need a little time to recover and focus on promoting the next Fluent German Retreat, and there’s a 10-day trip to the USA in my plans as well. Busy one, so I’ll be combining my goals for Welsh and Chinese.

Listening and Speaking

October is an italki challenge month, so I have a good reason to book lessons in both Chinese and Welsh, which should cover some of my speaking and listening needs.

The minimum hours to put in for a badge are 12, so I’ll divide mine into

  • 4 hours of Welsh conversation (exciting)
  • 4 hours of Chinese practice (terrifying)
  • 4 hours of wildcard languages (exciting)

I’m thinking I might throw in a bit of French and BSL. What about you?


Apps and LingQ for Chinese, the final pages of Ffenestri in Welsh. My focus is not on this for the month.


I’ll see if I can make writing a part of my lessons somehow for the Chinese part. In Welsh, it’s a little easier since I have a few people I can always message in the language.

And that’s it for October’s #clearthelist!

How are You Getting On in Language Learning?

Boy, I’m so looking forward to my next trip to Wales. Nothing is booked yet and autumn is already going to be fairly travel heavy, but then..what’s better than learning in the country? This is why I run retreats in Germany after all!

What about you? Share your check-in and plans in the comments below!

#clearthelist May 2019: Learning 2 Languages at Once (Plus: Lots of Resources for Chinese and Welsh!)


Hello and welcome to Clear The List, the monthly language learning round-up about language learning goals and progress. This blog round-up is hosted by my friends Lindsay Williams and Shannon Kennedy, and April marks a full year of my language goal-setting using this process.


What Happened in April 2019?

The month of April started off very intense and ended a lot more relaxed. That’s how I like it!

In the first week, I was finally lifting the curtain on my new German course, German Uncovered. It’s an incredible feeling when that first student enrols and all the work translates into their language progress. I held a welcome call with co-creator Olly Richards for our first gang.

This month, I was also busy preparing for the next German retreat. These retreats are an amazing opportunity for intermediate and advanced students to visit another country, discover more about culture, and practice their language through immersion. The June edition is now fully booked for German, and you can get on that waiting list for the next event if you like.

Sign up here for news about the next German retreat.

The Fluent Show

What a month! I was so proud to release my interview with one of my favourite language authors, Dr Roger Kreuz who wrote Becoming Fluent. Roger is a psychology professor and associate dean at the University of Memphis, and our conversation about language learning was wonderful and inspiring.

If you follow the Fluent Show, you’ll know that I have a soft spot for the psychology of the language learner, so this interview was definitely a highlight of the year.

Listen to the podcast episode with Dr Roger Kreuz here

Language Goals and Progress

I’m currently working on two target languages as a learner: intermediate Welsh and very early beginner’s Chinese.

Welsh Progress

In the Welsh language, my level is now pretty functional as long as I maintain a lot of contact and produce a lot of my target language on a regular basis. And I do mean every day when possible.

In the month of April, I found it most difficult to get speaking opportunities. I didn’t arrange any meet-ups with my local conversation partner, my tutor was busy, and when I spoke to my friend Nicky it was in English because he was a guest on the Fluent Show.

Instagram yn y gymraeg

Instagram yn y gymraeg

In the first half of the month, I was also struggling to find time and mental energy to learn Welsh. But once Easter came around and my workload eased up with Fluent, I feel like everything got better! I started by switching on Radio Cymru for a few mornings, then added a bit of S4C.

But the best part was creating my new Instagram account, @kersydysgu. Inspired by some wonderful Fluent Show listeners who have done this, I decided to try out the idea of a fully separate, and ONLY IN WELSH insta account. And my daily contact is through the roof because I’m already spending way too much time on the app. What a fantastic way to get more contact and write in Welsh on a regular basis.

Chinese Progress

My other language is Mandarin Chinese. I had set myself structured goals for this language for the first time last month.


My goal was to watch a bit of Easy Mandarin on Youtube, but I did nothing. Listening fell flat in April. I don’t enjoy many language instruction podcasts and I’m too low level for any natural input that I know.


My very tentative goal of an italki lesson was realised last week. Hooray! My first tutor listened to me counting to 10 and saying “living room” and “desk” at random, then declared my pronunciation very good and my learning “a mess”.

And fair point! I had not even noticed how little I had spoken apart from sounding out the words in my apps, and how little I could say in the way of dialogue. I was incredibly motivated after that and greeted her the next time with a full introduction, including where I live, my age, and my family. Take that, language mess!

I’m very pleased that I got my head around tones and basic pronunciation before the lesson, and I’m now hoping to take some regular classes. Good reminder: It isn’t really ever too early to work with a good tutor. They know what they’re doing!


Most of my learning is still reading-based, so I kinda met my goal by default.


I think I did quite well! My notebook is in regular use at the moment, and following up the lessons has made a big difference here.

At the moment my approach is to write in pinyin and also Chinese characters, but I’m not trying to memorize any of the characters. I’m thinking stuff like 我 and 你 will start sinking in automatically.

I’m using Google Translate and the Pleco app a lot for writing at the moment.

Daily Contact Goal

Every month, I log my “daily contact” with the Welsh language. In April, it was difficult to keep anything going during the launch of German Uncovered. But once Easter rolled around and I took some time to rest, Welsh returned to my life. In the last week, my Welsh instagram account made it easier than ever and I’m on a streak.

Total: 17 day out of 30.

I also track how many times I’ve spent 10+ minutes on Chinese, mostly for fun. In April, I checked this box 7 times. Often, this signals way over 10 minutes but it’s not about the minutes. It’s about the habit.

Goals for May 2019

This month is an unusual one. I’m travelling for the first 2 weeks, to Machynlleth in Wales and Amsterdam in the Netherlands. In the last 2 weeks, I’ve got a full-time responsibility away from Fluent, so I’ll have to see how work fits around it.

Welsh Language Goals

Again, I don’t feel I need to actively split my goals into listening, speaking, reading and writing at this intermediate stage. I just want to feel like I’m as good or better, and that will be about contact and speaking.

Spending the first few days of May in Machynlleth is a good start, and in the second half of the month I hope to get started on Say Something in Welsh Level 3 and get back into meeting my speaking partner.

Chinese Language Goals

In this language I’m a total beginner (很高兴认识你) and will benefit from the goal structure. So let’s go!


Ready to try again with YouTube for Chinese beginners. I’m looking for dialogue-based or story-based input here, rather than someone explaining greetings to me in detail.

If you want to recommend a channel or listening resource, leave me a comment below.


This is the easy one for any beginner, all my apps and my textbook are reading practice. No specific goals.


I’ve already booked one Skype lesson and hope to complete 3 by the end of the month.

(By the way, this month on the blog I have a brand new italki review - check it out if you have not tried out italki before.)


Three goals:

  • to follow up each language lesson with a page or revision notes,
  • to write 4 notebook pages about myself or my family (these pages are full really quickly when I write in English + pinyin + characters),
  • and to figure out how to type pinyin.

That’s it! Plenty to be getting on with.


Many people have been asking me to list the resources I use for learning my languages this month. Here they are:

Chinese Resources

Welsh Resources

What are Your Language Goals for May 2019?

Have you ever studied Welsh? Are you a Chinese beginner? Juggling 2 languages like me?

Leave a comment below to tell me all about how you’re getting on, and what you are planning to study next.

Be sure to check out the Clear the List linkup full of inspiring language goals and reports, hosted by Lindsay Williams and Shannon Kennedy.

#clearthelist April 2019: Structured Chinese Goals

clear the list april.png

Hello and welcome to Clear The List, “that was the busiest month” edition. This monthly language learning round-up brings together my progress from last month and my goals for the next month.

What Happened in March 2019?

I feel like the correct answer to this one is “everything happened”. First of all, the month of March kicked off with the best possible start as I co-hosted Women in Language with Shannon Kennedy and Lindsay Williams.

The event was a big success, and we’re super proud to share that our online language conference brought in over 500 people from over 50 countries. Thank you so much if you were one of them. We cannot wait for the next Women in Language event!

After those 4 days of fun, it was time for me to start the engines for my new online course launch. It’s actually happening this week. My new German course German Uncovered is out on Thursday, and you can peek inside the course by joining a free mini-course too.

So that was a lot of course building and promo writing, talking about the German language and all round getting busy.

peoples vote march.jpg

The month was not over yet, as there was important work to do. Say what you want about the Brexit: it certainly takes up a lot of mental space. I went on the People’s Vote March in London along with a peaceful million others and Gareth from How to Get Fluent.

Here’s a video showing our experience on the day:

So that’s a glimpse into March - a busy month!

The Fluent Show

With all that was going on, we didn’t miss a single episode of the Fluent Show.

One of my favourites was my interview with calm and centred language learner Nicole Miles, who shared rich insights into the deep motivations for learning a language…the kind that will fuel your progress long after the first weeks of excitement are over.

And talking of being in for the long run, let’s see whether I squeezed in a lot of language practice.

Language Goals and Progress

I’ve got to admit one thing right from the start: This month, tracking and lessons fell by the wayside and this makes today’s review a little harder. If I don’t keep track of what I do, I get to the end of the month with a vague sense of progress.

Did I study? Didn’t I? Did you? No one knows unless we write this down.

(Or maybe your mind is less of a sieve when you’re busy..)

As you know, my current beginner language is Mandarin Chinese.

Chinese Progress

A local café - perfect study space

A local café - perfect study space

My Chinese studies are progressing at a leisurely pace. After failing to find any Chinese self-study materials in the library, I decided to give the old 10 Minutes a Day another try and it’s been going fine in combination with the Drops app.

This month I learnt numbers 1-20, consolidated the basics, and got a little more to grips with classifiers like 张 and basics like rooms in a house. I have a Chinese speaking acquaintance in my Coworking space and am rather proud that I was able to say “Excuse me, where is the house?” and they understood me.


I’m very close to booking my first Chinese lesson on italki, but haven’t quite got the courage together yet.

Welsh Progress

In the first two weeks of the month, Welsh took a step back as I worked on Chinese and Women in Language. But I started to miss it, so I feel like especially part two of the month was when I stepped it up.

I was not able to meet my goal of having more conversations on a grand scale, though I did

  • chat to Gareth in Welsh on the protest in London,
  • wear a Welsh flag at that protest and chat to a fellow flag wearer in Welsh,
  • bump into my local conversation partner by coincidence.


This Welsh element of surprise made me a much worse speaker - it’s so much harder to speak another language without warning. But I got there and this kept me practicing.

I also said I’d finish Level 2 of Say Something in Welsh. And I did! I am very proud of this achievement.

Finally, I continued to listen to the Mynd am Beint Gyda podcast, started watching the TV show “Fferm Ffactor” (a farm-based games show, what could be more Welsh!), and got a habit of reading The BBC Cymru or articles.

Welsh = going well!

Daily Contact Goal

Every month, I log my “daily contact” with the Welsh language. In total, March had 17 contact days out of 31 (and 12 of them in the last 2 weeks). I don’t track the length of each “contact”.

In Chinese, I track a goal of “10 minutes” with the language, rather than daily contact. This is because I’m such a beginner that I feel a 2-minute Chinese session wouldn’t teach me enough. All in all, I tracked 80 minutes of Chinese during March.

Since I use an app for this tracking method, it’s not 100% accurate. If you’re interested in a tracking template for your own language routine, check out the Language Habit Toolkit which contains two templates you can print or copy.

Goals for April 2019

I love April, it’s springtime and my birthday month!

Welsh Language Goals

My habit of learning/speaking Welsh is now well established, as you saw in March where I actually started missing my language practice. Wonderful!

I’ll trust myself to keep up the reading and listening by myself and will focus my goals on speaking practice. I must speak every week! Time to book more italki lessons and meet-ups with my local buddy.

Chinese Language Goals

In Chinese, I’m slowly building up to my usual structure of listening, speaking, reading and writing as a goal structure. Let’s try it!


I dabbled with Coffee Break Chinese for a little bit, but didn’t really fall in love with it. But with Chinese being a tonal language, it’s probably very important for me to listen to it lots. So here, my goal is to find and try some more materials starting with the Easy Mandarin series on Youtube.


I can’t say much yet. My goal is to book an italki lesson but I’m not putting pressure on myself to do this at any cost. I’ll see if I feel like there would be any benefit.


Most of my materials are written and that’s the core of my practice at the moment, so all’s well here. I just aim to learn more, really.


My goal in Chinese is not about the characters at the moment, but I do find that I enjoy practicing a few of them here and there. The notebook is very helpful here, so my goal is to just spend a little more time practicing and playing here.

How Was Your Month?

As you can see, it’s possible to keep your goals light even if you do use the structure of listening, speaking, reading and writing. Have you ever tried it before?

Be sure to check out the Clear the List linkup for #clearthelist, hosted by Lindsay Williams and Shannon Kennedy.

So that’s it for this month. Leave a comment below to tell me all about how you’re getting on.