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I’ve been interested in improving my French for a while. I’ve made it a part of my bucket list to complete the DELF B1 exam, and eventually to complete the DELF B2 so I can be independently conversational. One tool to do this is the Lingoda Language Mararthon, also called the Lingoda Language Sprint.
How The Sprint Works
Lingoda offers group classes, with up to 4 students and an instructor. Each class has a defined curriculum and the instructor (all of whom are native speakers of the language they teach you, with at least B1 in English) goes through the material with you.
I signed up for the Sprint starting April 8 and then had to complete one class every day, for 90 days. If you miss a class, you’re out. If you sign up for a class before the Sprint begins, you’re out. If you buy extra credits, you’re out. If you do 2 classes in one day, you’re out. If you cancel a class within 7 days (because you won’t get refunded your credit), you’re out.
Basically, it takes extreme discipline to attend 90 days of classes without technical or other issues getting in the way.
I had varying experiences. Some of the instructors used no English (and actively had us translate our English into French) which I loved. Others used more English.
Lingoda has a recommended curriculum that you follow, but you can also jump around. I tried to stay in A1-1 (the first 50 lessons of the curriculum) because although my reading is good, my speaking, writing and listening comprehension need serious work.
Here’s what my Lingoda dashboard looked like on April 17:
The checkmarks are the classes I’ve completed already. The little calendar icon includes the classes that are coming up in the future. Lingoda allows you to download all of the material for the classes in advance, so that you can study up. This turned out to be key in my success in the classes.
Other Learning Activities
For the 90 days, I also worked on the Anki 5000 French Flashcard Deck irregularly. I had previously used this deck several times, and gotten within 1000 words of finishing the whole deck (having seen all 5000 words) but for various reasons had never finished the whole thing.
This time I learned 100 new words each day, for 90 days. I started using Anki again on April 10 and had seen all 5000 words at least once in June, although not precisely 50 days later. This helped expand my vocabulary, making it easier to communicate.
I also listened to an InnerFrench podcast occasionally, and tried to watch videos like Asterix, Tintin and Titeuf to build my listening comprehension. Since these were pretty advanced, I continued watching Peppa Pig in French since the “episodes” were quite short, and I could rewatch them over and over.
Impressions of the Sprint
The Lingoda Language Marathon or Lingoda Language Sprint is an excellent way to build your language skills. Now that I’m done the Sprint, it has rolled over into a 20-lesson per month subscription.
My goal is to continue taking lessons (now booking them shortly before they begin instead of needing to be booked a week in advance) in order to complete my A1 and A2 certificates. Lingoda will give you a certificate once you’ve completed 90% of the lessons (90 of the 100 lessons for each level.)
My original goal was to complete the 90 lessons in A1 to earn the certificate, but on April 23 I ended up taking a private lesson (I didn’t intend to, but I was the only person who signed up.)
This was with an instructor I really enjoyed who never used any English. During that lesson, she explained that she thought I was ready for A2. This reminded me of someone who had done the Marathon and mentioned that they thought you should increase your level every 30 lessons to get the most out of the marathon if you’re not a new learner of the language.
I decided to take that advice, so I booked my remaining 15 lessons in A1-1 and then switched my level to A1-2 for the classes in May. I hoped as well, that the A1-2 students would have better pronunciation and we would spend less time on that. I didn’t think I was ready for A2 so soon, so instead I did 30 lessons in A1-1 and 50 lessons in A1-2 before doing my last 10 lessons in A2.
Now that the marathon is over, I’d like to focus on completing the A2 curriculum (5 months at 20 lessons per month, for a cost of $945 USD) and then the B1 curriculum (150 lessons.)
I haven’t decided yet if I’d like to pay the monthly rate (8x$189 = $1512) or buy the B1 curriculum up-front for $1200, but I definitely want to complete it.
I think I’ll add iTalki lessons as well. Although Lingoda offers private lessons, I want to be able to have consistent lessons with the same instructor, and even private lessons don’t provide you that flexibility.
Measuring My Improvement
When I started, I estimated myself at high A2/low B1 for Reading, A1 for Listening, pre-AI for Speaking and Writing. After I completed the marathon, I completed a 3-hour Dialang exam.
Dialang is a program that allows you to measure your CEFR level. It has you complete a self-assessment and a placement test and then provides you with exercises in listening, reading and writing. Each test takes 30-45 minutes to complete, and since I was completing 3 of them I knew it would take me about 2.5 hours.
I loved Lingoda! It’s pretty amazing that for perhaps $5000 USD and a year of your life, you can get conversational in a language, something people sometimes struggle with for years on.
Lingoda really helped me accomplish this dream.
If you’re interested in Lingoda, you can use my referral code to get 50 euros (~$55 USD) off your first subscription: wx4uce.