Language Tips…

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Image courtesy of mydanishkitchen.com

Whenever I tell someone I’m trying to learn a new language they instinctually assume my language of choice is going to be Spanish, Italian or French, but it’s always funny watching them look confused when I say “Swedish” or “Finnish” or “Russian”-because you’d be surprised how outside the norm that is for some people here.

Upon my first trip to Denmark, I fell in love with the whole idea of Scandinavia. From their obscure obsession with open face sandwiches on rugbrød, a black rye bread pronounced “roll-brougll”, to risalamande, a rice pudding like dessert with a fruit like[?] topping, I became so intrigued by the culture and the language that it led me to actively learn Danish. Now I haven’t gone back to Denmark since then, but my love for Scandinavia has spilled over into my love for Sweden. As a newbie language learner, I’ve found a few things along the way that have helped me massively when it comes to picking up another language-in particular these tricky Scandinavian sounds that harass my every learning moment!

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A wonderful photo of the lovely smørrebrød from Denmark, courtesy of npr.org! I warned you about the sandwiches!

1) Immerse yourself: Tons of people say this all over the internet, but it really does help. Watching Swedish TV and movies, even Youtube videos allows you to become comfortable with the sound of the language. This especially helps when you are learning a language with difficult pronunciation-hello swedish! It also allows you to pick up on a few words when the actors are talking slow enough at least! For example, a few months ago I managed to pick up the word snälla (meaning please) from a movie called Fucking Åmål (I promise it isn’t a porno!). If you’re rather tech savvy perhaps even consider downloading podcasts on Itunes, although I can’t really understand the language enough to justify me not having visuals just yet!

2) Have a goal: I found that printing out a short story or an article in another language and posting it on my mirror or wall allowed me to keep in mind how cool it will be once I am able to read through the entire thing without a dictionary! Not only does this cause me to want to push myself, but it reminds me of the amazingness of being able to understand another language I chose to learn. Hooray for self empowerment!

3) Talk to a local: If you don’t know any native speakers of your chosen language, find them! Seriously, with the amount of social networking available to everyone nowadays it doesn’t take long to find a penpal or a Skype buddy on an online forum to help you brush up on some words. They can even clarify pronunciation challenges or give you links to communities you didn’t even know about. A great one for me was blogg.se, an online blogging website for the Swedish public that talk about various things! By being exposed to another community of people roughly my age, it allowed me to not only pick up on the language, but read blogs on things I would be interested in in my native language. You can get some tips from joining these learn ___ forums so get googling!

A few suggestions for those interested in e-pals:

http://www.mylanguageexchange.com/penpals.asp
http://www.interpals.net/language_exchange.php
http://www.conversationexchange.com/

I personally haven’t used any of these sites but a quick google search revealed a few [out of a hundred] sites!

Best of luck and don’t lose sight of your goal 😉

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4 comments

  1. Nomad,
    As someone who speaks an obscure language, (Hungarian!) this article really spoke to me.
    I agree, immersion is the best way to learn a language. Did you ever end up visiting Denmark?

    1. Hey Szandra! I did indeed end up going to Denmark and it was a mind blowing experience overall 🙂 That is awesome that you speak Hungarian! Obscure languages always seem to be the coolest since it is rare to know someone who speaks them. Did you pick up Hungarian as a past time or is that your background? 🙂

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