Language learning

Beginning a new language!

Image courtesy of on Flickr

Image courtesy of Christopher Neugebauer on Flickr

I’ve been considering starting a new language for the past little while. I’ve just finished uni for the year so I’ve got all summer to work on whatever I want. I’ve been reading a lot online to help me make a decision and I think I’ve settled on starting Swedish. There are several reasons for this – Stockholm is my favourite city (the only place I’ve ever gone to twice), there’s a chance I’ll be going again for a longer while in a year, and it’s supposed to be fairly easy for an English speaker to learn.

I’ve put a bit of a plan together, but I’m not locking myself in to anything. I’ve used the internet and other sources to supplement classes before but this will be my first time starting a language from scratch by myself, so I’m mainly going off what what I enjoy the most in other languages and a few things I’ve read online that seem like good ideas.

My Swedish plan is:

Before I begin I’m going to read up a bit on the language. I’ve already read the Wikipedia entry for the Swedish language. I just like to get a big of background knowledge before I start.

First off I’m going to try to learn the most common 300-500 words. I’ll probably use Anki to review them.

I’m not going to actively study grammar to begin with.

I’m going to listen to a lot of podcasts and songs (any suggestions for bands for me?) and the news.

I’m going to read from fairly early on in the process. I’m planning to visit an old second hand book shop near me that has a pretty decent foreign language section and I’m hoping they have something in Swedish. If not I’ll be reading articles and books online.

As I read I’ll underline words I want to know and later look them up and add to Anki.

You know I’m a fan of input before output, so I’m not going to worry about speaking at all yet.

I’m going to try not to translate straight to English. I’m going to use pictures instead of English words where I can. When I can’t use pictures I’m considering using Spanish-Swedish translations, but I’m not sure if that would just complicate things way too much. We’ll see.

I’m hoping to spend an hour a day listening and an hour a day doing a combination of reading and looking at flashcards. I figure the listening is easy to fit in as I’m walking or on the train but I’ll have to work at making myself sit down to read.

I’ll keep you all updated on my progress (I know you’re dying to know!). Does anyone have any words of wisdom for me? It’s been a while since I started a language from scratch!

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4 thoughts on “Beginning a new language!

  1. Hi Liv, I found your blog through the Mezzofanti Guild blog and I just wanted to say that I really like your posts πŸ™‚ Good luck with your Swedish – I went through a Swedish phase and I really enjoyed learning it. Unfortunately, due to time constraints I had to stop and I don’t really remember very much of it. One resource I found useful was the YouTube channel “GoSwedish” – it has a bunch of videos by a native-speaker and that was useful to understand the cadence/tones of the language.

    Anyway, I’m looking forward to reading about your progress πŸ™‚

    P.S. I’m envious you live in Australia. I really want to move there someday!

  2. First time visiting your blog and I’m excited for you because you can feel the underlying passion you have for languages. I’ve always enjoyed foreign languages and studied several in high school (French, Spanish, German). My grades were excellent and I learned enough to get around, but the focus on verb conjugation and vocabulary certainly didn’t result in my being fluent or even proficient.

    Now that I live in the Netherlands, I’ve combined an intensive language course (1 teacher, 4 students) focused primarily on conversation with cultural immersion – chatting with neighbors and store staff as I run errands, watching Dutch television (they use English subtitles) including the news, listening to Dutch radio, reading local newspapers/magazines. Our teacher even turned us onto a Dutch band with a few ballads that allowed even us newbies to pick out several words! In short, everything you’re thinking about doing WILL help. The more you immerse yourself in the sounds of the spoken language, in real (not stilted) conversations, the better you’ll do. Basically the principles of the Pimsleur language learning approach. My son’s high school teacher used German television news clips and online television/newspaper websites, and it helped a lot. Learning Swedish will be an exciting adventure, good luck!

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