Clubhouse and Language Learning

March 17, 2021 by 1 Comment
Image of Clubhouse app on iPhone

You’ve heard a lot from me recently about the difficulties with studying Korean with a number of things going on externally. It has been a pretty unusual time and it’s made things hard to focus on studying something brand new. It’s also been hard to focus on new projects generally. Enter Clubhouse and language learning anew!

What didn’t work?

Before I talk to you about what worked for me in more detail, I wanted to tell you what didn’t work.

I couldn’t ignore that things were not moving forward. So I needed to acknowledge that fact and check out my options.

In previous posts and on videos I said I would simply go back to Talk To Me In Korean and review and then move on. Honestly though? That was not good enough to get things moving again.

The one thing I did that worked for me from what I said last time was keeping up with italki lessons in Korean to keep my hand in with the language. Some days I really didn’t feel like doing them. Some days I was on the brink of making up an excuse and cancelling. It really was that bad. Do you know those moments?

What do you do when everything feels difficult?

I joined Clubhouse around three weeks ago now. A friend, Andrew, who came to the Polyglot Conference in Fukuoka invited me to join it. I had no idea about the app, but he said he thought I would find potential for language learning. He was right. I did.

What’s all this about Clubhouse?

Clubhouse is a voice only app that allows people to connect in topic-based rooms in-app. It is only on iPhone right now in beta and you need to be invited to join at the time of writing still. There are a number of clubs related to various interest groups and rooms where people talk together on a topic can be inside a club or standalone rooms.

When I first mentioned I was on Clubhouse to people outside the app I was met with some mixed reactions. Many asked legitimate questions about it and there were some rumours mixed in that didn’t resemble my experience of the app in the slightest.

What’s bad?

The first thing people mentioned to me is that they thought it was elitist and a white male dominated environment.

My reality with it is different

I cannot speak for all clubs on the app, but 90% or more of the rooms I have been in have been lead by people who do not appear to be white or male. It’s been three weeks and I have been in a lot of rooms, so it doesn’t feel like a passing glance observation anymore. Hey this make-up of the app may change over time. For now that’s been the reality of it for me. And I LOVE the diversity of voices on it in this respect. I also felt very welcome in all the rooms I went in too!

What about accessibility?

I was told that Clubhouse was not accessible to a wide range of people for a few reasons. One thing is that it started on iPhone only and other platforms were not support. This is true. My understanding is that this will change in time it’s like this at the time of writing because it’s in beta. I look forward to the day it rolls out to more people!

The other accessibility raised was about the deaf and hearing impaired community. This felt like a legitimate claim so I sought out rooms to answer questions about this. Someone told me that deaf users had successfully managed to use the app with otter.ai. I would love to get more feedback on this to see how well that works in reality. If you have experience of this, please do let me know in the comments.

The breakthrough

The real game changer for me with Clubhouse was the ability to find language study groups. I was extremely lucky to stumble on Nina (@AuthorNinePerez on Twitter) and Rabia, who had set up a study group for Korean.

Nina and Rabia set up this study group and what they did was quite inspiring. As Clubhouse is voice only, they recognised the need to link something to text so we can study effectively. In Clubhouse you can link to your Instagram and Twitter accounts. From there you can direct people to Google Docs with study plans or other things you might need during the study sessions. They also set up a Discord server so we can communicate in writing live too. All of this was just wonderful and really enhances the experience.

To my utter joy they were going through the TTMIK materials every day of the week for an hour each time. We have three days looking at the 500 Korean words book, one day for Basic Conversations in Korean and another day for reviewing Level 1 at the moment too. Having this group has meant the world to me to get me out of my rut and push forwards. I now belong to a group of positive, supportive and enthusiastic people. We read aloud, get practice together and get feedback from Korean speakers who drop in to help too! It’s nothing short of amazing.

So you see now why I wanted to write about Clubhouse and Language Learning!

What now?

My plan is to continue with my Korean in this study group. I am not going to rush through the levels on TTMIK as I recognise now that it’s not realistic to get everything in my head and I need more time to really allow this language to sink in first. I will continue with my Clubhouse and language learning regime and update you again soon on how that is working out!

In addition to this I am continuing with my Korean lessons on italki. Finally I am moving in the right direction again with Korean and loving it!

If you sign up for italki using this link you will get $10 FREE towards your first lesson: http://go.italki.com/polyglotconference

I go LIVE on Youtube every week to answer language learning questions. Every week I pick a topic to discuss in the beginning before getting to your questions. Last time I talked about Clubhouse and Language Learning too!

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This post was written by Richard

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