Intensive Language Learning

June 30, 2021 by Leave your thoughts

The last time I did intensive language study was in 1999. I was 21 and I moved to Germany to learn German in one summer. It was a crazy period in my life and also extremely exhilarating. But is it easy come easy go with intensive language learning?

View of Tallinn, the capital of Estonia in the snow

Why do intensive language learning?

My story for German was very specific. I had just finished my first degree and I wanted abroad. I applied for a Masters in European Business in Madrid. I needed a foreign language and the only real option was German. But I had never studied German!

I hopped on a plane and moved to Germany to learn the language. The university in Spain told me that I had to pass an exam when I arrived. In just three months I would have to prove graduate knowledge of the language. By today’s standards that could be around B2-C1 level. This was a BIG ask for me in just one summer! Talk about intensive language learning!

In Germany speaking ONLY German

When I went to Germany I took books and studied very hard for about 8 hours a day in the first month. This was just to pick up vocabulary and basic grammar to start communicating.

Can you imagine a time before social media and Internet calls? That was 1999. I used German or I didn’t communicate. It was frustrating. It was difficult, but I stuck with it. And after a month I had worked through ALL of the UK secondary school materials. I was at the equivalent of an A2 level approximately. Finally I was able to just chitchat and learn more.

Au-pairing for the win

A family in the village where I staying in Germany invited me to move in with them. Speaking in a family every day was really improving my vocabulary and grammatical accuracy. I got feedback and improved my fluency and confidence in German.

When I arrived in Spain I passed the exam. I was thrilled. Ever since then I have used German for work, friendships and study. German stayed with me. And now it’s one of the languages I use at home with my daughter too!

Why intensive language learning now?

German was a very specific thing for me at that time. I really needed it for study and work. My motivation was VERY high.

I have received many questions on how I learnt it and if I recommend that type of study. I have always found it tough to answer these questions. German was a unique learning experience for me. Usually I take more time on languages. And recommend it? Well that’s not something I think most people will ever need to do, let alone want to do. It was a very hard thing to do and super frustrating too.

I started to wonder:

1. Could I do something similar now at my age?
2. Could I do it now without living there?
3. Can technology replace that immersion I had in Germany?

Enter Speakly and Estonian

A new app appeared on the market called Speakly. I was intrigued, so I downloaded it.

I played around withthe app for a week or so in February. It was very different to other apps I’d seen. I recommended it to my student and he loved it! He said it was the best thing I had given him to help with his German.

Fast forward to after my Cornish exam

A few of my language study projects are winding down for the summer. I finished my Grade One Cornish exam. The Korean and Scottish Gaelic classes will finish too.

Usually I take on summer projects and this year with the pandemic that would not be possible in the usual way. I decided to go back to Speakly and pick a language I had not studied much before. I picked Estonian. The Founders and CEOs of the app happen to be Estonian in fact!

Learning a language in a month

During my LIVE I asked people how much you can learn in one month. The answered varied from a lot to almost nothing. Many rightly said that it depends on the related languages you know already.

In for a penny. In for a pound. I launched my Estonian in a month idea!

LIVE chat and Q&A to talk about learning a language in a month

I started looking at the options to expose myself to Estonian from The Balkans. Here are some short clips I posted on YouTube and Instagram to get some ideas too. I will make a whole new post with some of the wonderful links shared with me on those videos soon.

Free Vocab: Estonian Language Learning
Get content in YOUR target language

Advice from an expert

An expert doesn’t always recognise them-self as an expert. Be warned. I have received great advice from people who start off by saying, “but you already know this”.

I am a firm believer in asking for advice from people who have been through the process already and succeed. Some things they say might not work for you. But listening to them will bring out some gems. I always do this.

Today I was very lucky. I spoke to Ott, who is the Founder, CEO and course creator of the Speakly method. He agreed to talk to me about how I can make the most of the app. This chat was a game changer for me. Wish me luck!

Ott was kind enough to offer some discount codes for Speakly’s premium products. I am including them here for you in case you’d like to use them.

If you are interested in using the premium version of Speakly and would like a 40% discount, then please use the following codes:

English: RS1
Spanish: RS2
French: RS3
German: RS4
Italian: RS5
Russian: RS6
Estonian: RS7
4Finnish: RS8

To get the 40% discount on Speakly Premium, do the following: Create a new Speakly account at – Choose the language you would like to study – Choose any study plan – Enter the study code that will apply the discount – Enjoy your Premium studies!

If you sign up for italki and buy a coupon for language lessons through them, you can use the Promo Code below at checkout to get $5 OFF your order! So a $10 coupon costs you just $5! Use Promo Code: RICHARD

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This post was written by Richard

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