I recently finished my latest language challenge in Catalan. The idea is that you set yourself a goal of being able to hold a 15 minute conversation with a native speaker of your chosen language after 90 days.
I completed the same challenge before for Scottish Gaelic and Greek so I was used to how it works. You firstly apply for the challenge and agree on how much time you will study. In my case it was the minimum that they allowed which was 30 minutes of study on 5 days of the week. As I was busy with my job, I could not commit to more. However, I knew that Catalan would not be as difficult as Greek or Gaelic because it was similar to Spanish which I already knew.
Catalan had been a language on my wishlist for many years. With one of my previous jobs, I travelled to Catalonia quite a lot but always spoke in Spanish and never had the time to take up Catalan. Then after spending some time in Mallorca and Menorca, I started to become more interested.
I found 3 Catalan tutors on Italki.com (Anna, Angela and Noelia) and I had on average 2 lessons per week throughout the challenge.
I also had a trip to Sardinia for a week during the challenge where a dialect called Alguerés is a minority language and is a dialect of Catalan. I was able to practise some speaking there and buy some written materials. You can read about that trip here.
I started by studying grammar and the basics of Catalan using a Teach Yourself book. After a couple of weeks, I started trying to speak in Catalan by having Skype tuition on Italki. As all the Catalan tutors were also Spanish speakers, this was good for me because whenever I did not know a word in Catalan, I would ask them in Spanish and then get the translation. Apart from my Teach Yourself book, all my other resources were purely in Catalan and my Skype lessons were done only in Catalan and sometimes using Spanish if I couldn’t understand something. This was the first time I have used another foreign language (Spanish) to learn a new one so that was a new experience for me.
At the end of the challenge I was pleased with my progress and I made my 90 day video with a native speaker to show that I could speak in Catalan with her for 15 minutes. My final 90 day video is available to watch on YouTube here:
My new plans are to continue with Catalan because it has become one of my favourite languages and I have just registered for a new 90 day challenge for Mandarin Chinese! Future challenges I have planned are Irish which I expect to be similar to Scottish Gaelic, Icelandic and perhaps Dutch, Romanian or Croatian! Or maybe I will need another language for work or travelling. Certainly the most immediate one will be Irish because I have trip to the Gaeltacht in Ireland during 2016.