Learning similar languages can be quizzical for a number of reasons. Here’s a quick glimpse into some incredibly common words in English, Norwegian, Swedish, and Dutch. Notice how the Norwegian, Swedish, and Dutch ones are pronounced:
|mij (“may”, “my”)
|you (nominative, stressed)
|jij (“yay”, “yiy”)
|you (objective, stressed)
|den, det (“deh”)
|den, det (“deh”)
Continue reading Common foreign words and their pronunciations
Services and auto-translators like Google translate and others take entire sentences and put together a meaning from all the different parts present. When learning a language, however, it’s sometimes more beneficial to see word-for-word translations, as it gives you a better idea of the most common sentence structures. In this post I’ll go over a few Dutch sentences. A Swedish version will come in the future! So here are some sentences in their original Dutch, a word-for-word translation, and then a reworded translation:
Hoe laat kom je morgen?
How late come you tomorrow?
What time are you coming tomorrow?
Ik moet het morgen halen.
I must it tomorrow get.
I must get it tomorrow.
Continue reading Literal translation – Dutch
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.
Continue reading Correcting a beginner
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.
Continue reading My Swedish resources
I’ve written about how learning one language can help you learn another. Let me show you some examples of what I mean:
|(to) want, (to) will
Continue reading Germanic mutual intelligibility
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.
Continue reading Why be a beginner in multiple languages?
English is a crazy language full of exceptions and confusing words. In this article I’ll try to clear up some of the most common misconceptions in the language that I’ve seen. This page will be updated as I think of more confusing words to add.
This vs. That
farther vs. further
“Farther” implies distance while “further” implies time. As you can imagine, these two are often interchangeable even though they don’t have the same meaning.
e.g. “He’s studied longer than me, but I know more than him, so he’s further along, but I am farther along.”
it’s vs. its
See “you’re vs. your”.
Continue reading Most confusing words in the English language
I was able to encourage a friend to begin Michel Thomas’s Language Learning Method today, and he blazed through the first disc of French mere hours after he started it! I’d normally suggest he go a bit slower, but as long as he’s motivated, I won’t get in his way! This made me feel pretty accomplished given that he had a seriously stubborn attitude about language learning beforehand, even calling me overconfident and cocky for thinking I’d be able to speak Dutch this December! All it takes is the right materials to get you started, and once you’ve gained the insight that learning languages is not hard, you’re one step closer on your way to becoming an efficient language learner!
One of the best language tips I can think of would be to sing to music in your target language. The number one area on which this works is pronunciation, which I like getting down to a science before starting to learn too many words if at all possible. It takes a lot of the average person’s stress out of learning a language, being able to look at at least 75% of words and say “I know how to say that aloud.”
I’ve also noticed that singing a song in another language can have a slightly different system from the way the language is usually spoken (I’m looking at you, Japanese!). For instance, sentences or words are often pronounced a certain way in a song to sound more melodic or gentler. This makes it easy to recognize individual sounds since they’re often exaggerated, and when you study sung language as opposed to just conversational language, the way words are sung can make you more familiar with different phonemes. This process has introduced to me the pronunciation of Dutch, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish. Sometimes you’ll be pleasantly surprised; for instance, Japanese and Spanish have remarkably similar pronunciation on the vast majority of words, but you wouldn’t expect that from a Latin vs. an Asian (more specifically Japonic) language!
This is a short snippet of my thoughts on the Michel Thomas Language Learning Method, which I use to introduce myself to a language before speaking it with natives. The Michel Thomas method is one I regard very highly. It is an audio software, but don’t let that discourage you! I’ve had my fair share of terrible audio materials before, or ones that were unsatisfactory at best. However, with Michel Thomas, I went through the Japanese course a few months ago, but what I learned I still remember quite well! I love the pacing and the vision is incredibly unique: the teacher really does the majority of the work and you’re just there for the ride and to reap the incredible benefits! This method is how I introduce myself to a language (provided it’s one of the 12 that Michel Thomas covers, of course; I’ll have to look elsewhere for Swedish, for example); I am currently going through the Dutch version and am learning a TON in a very short period of time. After I finish the course, I speak to natives for the rest and continue studying every now and then, especially vocabulary. I 100% recommend this method to ANYONE, esPECially if you’ve been let down by language-learning materials in the past. You’ll learn quite a bit with Michel, but not only that; you’ll REMEMBER it!
Highly recommended! 🙂