The idea came while I was watching a Game Jam on the Internet. This is a challenge where a bunch of people meet in one place to create a video game together. Yet the challenging part is that they only have limited time, mostly between 24 and 72 hours (or one weekend) to finish their project. And to make it even better, they do not decide themselves what the game is about but a topic will be chosen for them.
So why not transfer it to language learning!
The first Language Jam took place from July 27th to July 29th 2018 and I could not have been happier about its premiere. All my expectations were exceeded and I was able to experience one incredibly fun weekend thanks to this wonderful language community. Check out the posts from past challenges on Twitter and Instagram, if you are interested.
For everyone who is participating for the first time, this is how the challenge works:
One out of many languages from all around the world will be your challenge language. The pool of languages excludes your native tongue(s) as well as other languages you have learned already or dabbled in, naturally.
This is where the real challenge lies. Letting a third party pick a language for you sounds a bit strange, since this is probably not how you usually choose a new language. But at least you don’t have to face the never-ending decision which language you should learn next. We have all been there. (You can classify beforehand if you're okay with Latin, non-Latin or both scripts, don't worry.)
The official challenge spans a whole weekend, from Friday to Sunday. It says "official" because there is a "prep-phase" (as in "preparation phase") that will allow you to gather resources and (in case you get a language with a non-Latin script) study your new alphabet before you join in with everyone on the weekend.
How you organize your study time over the weekend is totally up to you! If you want to utilize as many hours as possible, be my guest. If you still want to maintain a healthy sleeping schedule while learning, that is okay, too. (Please don’t forget to sleep.) What material you use is also your choice. The Internet is filled with a sheer infinite amount of information and this is what the "prep-phase" is for.
The power of the Internet is strong and connecting to other people easier than ever! Only if you want to, of course. This challenge is for extroverts as well as introverts and everyone in between. Platforms like Discord, Instagram and Twitter are wonderful places to find a study buddy (or two)!
You might struggle, you might feel more motivated than ever before. Sharing both failure and success can be tremendously reassuring and motivating for others, so feel free to use the #LangJam hashtag throughout your challenge to share whatever is on your mind on Twitter and Instagram, be it frustration about tricky pronunciation or an exceptional funny word you’ve just learned.
Learning a language that somebody picked for you and learning it only for a very limited time might seem counter-intuitive and against all principles of decent learning methods. Under normal circumstances I couldn’t agree more – except this is where the challenge lies!
The Language Jam is not about who can learn the most within given time, it’s about being open-minded and working with something that might not have been your first choice to begin with. It’s about leaving your language comfort zone, giving it your all in a restricted time. It's about learning about new cultures and struggling together with other participants. And most importantly: It’s about having fun! Once the weekend and the challenge are over, you never have to look at that language again if you want. Case closed. You can now return to your normal schedule as if nothing has ever happened.
I made some adjustments to the Language Jam and hope it will be more enjoyable for all of you. It is wonderful how this project keeps growing with your help and I am always thankful for feedback and constructive criticism. As always, hit me up if you have any questions!