After following Lindsay Does Languages for at least the past five years, I decided to try out her Speaking Confidence Challenge. Because, like many language learners out there, I struggle with speaking. But I was also curious. As someone who studied linguistics in college, I wanted to observe her approach.
Let me backtrack a bit and give you some of my background in languages so you can better understand this review.
After years of scattered irrelevant high school Spanish classes and attempts at Japanese, I began teaching myself German. And it worked very well. I even managed a mini-course in Modern Greek from the local church. After about a year I managed to test into intermediate German as a college freshman. While my grammar was spotty, I could speak fairly confidently.
I pursued my love of languages and widened my circle to include classes in Russian, Arabic, and Japanese. But I found I could not foster the same ability to speak as I had in German. Anxiety had crept in.
Shortly after graduating I married and moved to India, which presented added three more languages to my plate: Hindi, Marathi, and Bengali.
Luckily my time spent with Arabic gave me a vocab boost, and I could understand the grammar thanks to my time meandering with Japanese.
But still, I couldn’t speak well.
So when I saw this 6-week challenge for $60, I thought I’d at least try it. Lindsay is passionate and on-point when it comes to teaching methods.
Before I get into the nitty-gritty of the course, I want to be honest about my limitations. While I started the course amidst COVID-19, I work full-time from home as a copywriter. In addition, appointments that were post-phoned from March through June due to the lockdown became available during July and August. And as the icing on the cake – I was already preparing to publish my first poetry collection on Amazon Kindle.
So my first caveat regarding this review is that I was exceptionally busy and couldn’t take advantage of the course in a timely manner. That said, I did get a lot out of it and many of the materials can be used in the long-term.
The Speaking Challenge Layout
Finally, we can talk about the challenge itself!
The Lindsay Does Languages Speaking Confidence Challenge is a 6-week course that includes two live calls and a personal challenge per week. In addition, you are added to a private Facebook Group to post your progress and communicate with other students.
The weeks were divided by topic:
- Foundation Skills
- Bear Hunt Skills
- Mindset Skills
- Detective Skills
- Prepping Skills
- Spontaneous Skills
The first live session of each week would take place on Monday and a recording would be up shortly after. The second call was a speaking practice session, where you would be placed into a language group of your choosing for a spontaneous session. This one was not recorded. Each call was about an hour in length.
All the dirty details
First off, I’m a sucker for interactive PDFs. I love them – especially since I no longer have a printer. And all of Lindsey’s personal challenges come with detailed interactive PDFs.
When it comes to language learning, fillable, pre-made templates are a godsend. Especially if you’re like me and you’re trying to juggle language learning with your professional and personal responsibilities.
There are two other major pros to these files: You can easily use the templates for every language you are working on, and they are scalable. In other words, these PDFs can work for a beginner, intermediate or advanced learner. There is a lot of wiggle room based on your input.
In her course, you’ll find documentation to help you:
- Track words and phrases you’ll actually need to speak (as opposed to reading)
- Play vocabulary-based games like Taboo
- Track goals so you can measure your progress
Lindsey is a professional language teacher, and as such, she offers on-point insight on how to measure progress, approach challenges, and organize your language studies. The organization of the course is precise and initiative.
There were two other aspects of the course that I absolutely loved.
The first is the mindset week. Because of my background, most of the content are strategies weren’t new to me. But the focus on mindset was essential, especially because Lindsey dives deep into all the possible mental roadblocks you might be having. And that was really where I was struggling.
The second thing that I found useful is more controversial. I really liked that we spoke with other students rather than native speakers.
In college, I was hooked on the myth that speaking with native speakers is the only way that works. Sure, it’s great for your accent. But it’s also more intimidating and unless you are extremely resilient and an extrovert it can really impede your progress.
When you are speaking with other students, the pressure of making a mistake is reduced drastically. And it’s easier to allow yourself to use the strategies Lindsey lays out in the course.
What about the drawbacks?
Honestly, I felt like the course was at the right length and well-spaced.
The only thing I would recommend deals with the spontaneous speaking hour in the language groups. I thoroughly enjoyed the sessions I was able to attend, but the lack of structure sometimes made it awkward or difficult to find topics to discuss.
To be fair, there were only two of us learning Hindi, so that in itself means we had a lot of time to fill. With larger groups, there is less pressure because the time for each person to speak is considerably less.
I had planned to be more proactive when planning topics, but between dental surgeries and professional responsibilities, I wasn’t able to be as prepared as I liked. That said, I would definitely suggest having sample topics per week either based on the challenge or other themes to help promote conversion.
Should you take the Speaking Challenge?
Lindsey did an amazing job with her Speaking Confidence Challenge. The materials are beneficial to learners of all levels who are struggling to speak, and she’s very thorough. The speaking sessions were incredibly useful and I felt that I received a good amount of value for the price.
I would definitely recommend the Speaking Confidence Challenge for anyone looking to up their game and get more comfortable with one of the most difficult aspects of language learning.