Clear the List October 2019: My italki Speaking Challenge Plans

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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 September 2019: The Eleven Languages I Spoke in One Month

Welcome to my language progress and goals update for the new month. My focus languages are Mandarin Chinese and Welsh.

You’ll read about the 11 languages I spoke in August 2019 and catch up with top episodes of the Fluent Show podcast.

Read More

#clearthelist April 2019: Structured Chinese Goals

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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.

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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.