Finally it’s here, my thoughts on the #polyglottweet challenge by @maripolyglot last January. I decided to join, because I liked the idea of focusing on my target languages for a whole month and because there would be a group of likeminded polyglots, discussing and correcting each other’s tweets. Me like!
Let’s look at some facts and figures first.
- The challenge took 30 days. That means 30 days in a row, tweeting once a day about anything you like in whatever language you study, using the hashtag polyglottweet.
- I am studying/speaking 10 foreign languages: and I tweeted in all of them.
- French: 6, English and Afrikaans: 5, Korean: 4, Italian: 3, Bulgarian and Faroese: 2, German, Danish and Spanish: 1.
- I also did 1 audio tweet in French, I tweeted one blog I wrote in English and as a final tweet on day 30, I made a thread with all my target languages (which was fun to do).
I loved to give my target languages some TLC on a daily basis. Sometimes I was already thinking about what to tweet the next day, what language I would pick. Sometimes I picked a random language, whatever popped into my head that morning, sometimes I would focus on the language I had a conversation class in that day, sometimes I would tweet in the language I was listening to on my daily walk.
I also liked the private chat that was organised with the participants. We were very active in the beginning. We would discuss all sorts of things, but unfortunately that died out after a few days.
It was fun to correct the people tweeting in Dutch and to help them and the other way around as well, to read some comments on my tweets (especially for Bulgarian, I got a few corrections).
The audio tweet I did was also a great idea, I should have done that a bit more though.
Although I liked thinking of something to tweet in a foreign language every day, this was also the biggest minus, having to tweet something every day. At some point you run out of interesting things to say and I don’t speak all my languages at a high or even conversational level. I also did not want to take things easy and just tweet in English or French. I forced myself to write something in Bulgarian, Korean and Faroese as well (the languages I am not at all fluent in yet).
I was very close to giving up a few times, but I hung in there and at the end I was really glad I made it through the 30 days.
The biggest minus for me however was that the private chat died out halfway through the challenge and that I received almost no corrections on my tweets. I know that my target languages are not the most common ones so I understand, but it would have been a bit more fun to receive feedback and to be able to elaborate on that.
It seemed like talking to myself most of the time, but then again, that may very well be the point of the whole challenge, forcing yourself to use your target languages regularly and to focus on producing a coherent sentence.
The challenge was an eyeopener for me, in the sense that it made it clear to me that I have to focus on actively using my languages, not just study from my textbooks and watch/listen to audio input. My biggest takeaway of this experiment was this. It may seem that you master a language while actually your active knowledge is not that good … It’s one thing to listen and understand what is being said, it is a whole different ball game to produce something in your target language of the top of your head.
After the polyglottweet month had ended, Mari organised conversations in a few languages, in which I also took part. This was a nice way to conclude the challenge. I joined the Dutch and the Italian conversation and we talked for about an hour.
All in all, I have a positive feeling about the challenge and I would definitely take part again, but 30 days might just be a little too long. I think I would like this more: you work on a longer tweet for a week and then post that, let’s say every Friday evening, instead of writing one sentence per day. That way you have more time to think about what to write, especially if you do it in a language that you don’t master at an intermediate level yet.