Category Archives: Languages

Correcting a beginner

In this post I’d like to discuss something that is very beneficial to me when I’m starting out learning a language: getting corrected by people in a helpful way. This goes beyond simply not being rude when telling someone how to reword their sentence; it involves correcting as few things as is possible. When correcting a beginner’s sentences, change as few words as is possible to make the sentence make sense. For example, if I’m learning English and I write:

When she go, I will be first to be sad.

It’s helpful to correct it to:

When she goes, I will be the first one to be sad.

Do NOT correct it to how a native would say it:

I’ll be the first one to cry when she leaves.
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My Swedish resources

It’d be silly for me to continue for too long about learning Swedish without mentioning the resources I use, so here’s a list of what I’m currently using, as well as an explanation of when I use it; it’s the Swedish equivalent for my Norwegian resources and my Korean resources:

  • Penn State University Swedish lessons: Used from the very beginning for basic vocabulary and grammar. I happened upon a really nifty bunch of Swedish lessons from a professor. They have been extremely helpful from the get-go, and I advise this to be one of the first things you look at if learning Swedish. There’s a great rundown of not only vocabulary, but also bits of grammar, but never enough to overwhelm you. Definitely one of my favorite finds.
  • LingQ: Used to start learning words. This can be used from the very beginning! LingQ is a fantastic site that allows you to hover your cursor over words in their different language lessons and stories and see the meaning. When you feel comfortable with a word, you mark it as known and move on. This is also the tool that gives me those nifty, auto-updated language badges on the right sidebar.
  • Google translate: Used all-the-freaking-time to define single words. Here’s how it normally works for me: I see a word in LingQ or hear a word in a podcast (also coming up), and then look it up via Google translate if I know how it’s spelled. I hardly ever use Google translate for translating phrases, because if you give it more than one word, it often messes up. For best results, translate FROM your target language INTO English, as Google translate tends to have a better grasp on English than some of the other languages. It’s also decent enough to use vice-versa, but I don’t trust its English-to-Swedish, etc. translations as much as the reverse. Remember, in the beginning, when translating something in Google translate, don’t use ambiguous sentences that can be translated in multiple different ways; try to stick to simple sentences until you can tell when Google translate is wrong, at which point you can feed it more complex things.

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Germanic mutual intelligibility

I’ve written about how learning one language can help you learn another. Let me show you some examples of what I mean:

English

Norwegian

Swedish

Dutch

also også också ook
always alltid alltid altijd
expensive, dear dyrt dyrt duur
(to) have (å) ha (att) ha hebben
(to) hear (å) høre (att) höra horen
must måste moeten
north nord norr noord
tonight i kveld ikväll vanavond
(to) want, (to) will (å) ville (att) vilja willen
welcome back velkommen tilbake välkommen tillbaka welkom terug
with med med met

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Why be a beginner in multiple languages?

So, as I learn more Swedish, my Norwegian reading comprehension improves exponentially. It’s really quite incredible. My knowledge of Dutch also helps a ton in this regard, for all three are Germanic languages. I’d say about 1 out of every 3 words in Swedish looks/sounds close enough to its Dutch equivalent that I can recognize it immediately. But Norwegians are cheaters! When they don’t want me to understand them, they just switch to writing or speaking nynorsk instead of bokmål. D:

I want to take this post to briefly explain why I’ve switched between a lot of languages lately. This is my personal learning style, and it works quite well: I learn a few languages to beginner level, then maintain them before upping to the next level. In the meantime, I get myself comfortable with another language. What is the benefit of this? Language intelligibility. A fantastic example would be Norwegian and Swedish, or even Dutch and Swedish; if you learn one, your knowledge of the other increases simultaneously. Knowing and recognizing basic words and phrases in a lot of different languages means I can recognize the Latinate or Germanic origins of tongues that are closely related. My Spanish greatly aided my French and Esperanto; my English helped significantly with my Dutch.

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A Swedish love affair

I’ve been starting a new chapter in my life over the past few months, which seems to happen every summer; bit by bit, a transformation makes itself known over the horizon, and by the end of the season it’s palpable, improving my character in some way or another. There are a few rather large changes happening in my life right now, which I will get to in a separate post. In short, I have amazing friends, and I learn this anew every once and awhile, it seems!

However, I can tell you that I have satisfied myself with re-solidifying some of the Spanish that I learned from school, and can use it more actively. Satisfied with this, I move on to my next challenge: learn Swedish!

Why Swedish? Because I’ve had a love affair with the language ever since my Swedish friend introduced me to the band Sarek, which is a Swedish folk-pop group made popular through Melodifestivalen (I wish they’d made it to Eurovision!). About this time last year is when I was deeply into my learning Dutch mission, and I will be continuing this one for a number of months.

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