<![CDATA[Six Months To Fluency - Blog]]>Sat, 12 Mar 2016 09:29:23 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Being a kid again - Language learning made fun!]]>Thu, 19 Jun 2014 00:12:29 GMThttp://sixmonthstofluency.weebly.com/blog/being-a-kid-again-language-learning-made-funOne of the biggest pieces of advice I could pass on to a fellow language learner is to be a kid again.  Ask questions "what is that" in your learned tongue and feel alright with saying "I don't understand". 

When we first start learning a different language, we practically are children.  We have broken vocabulary and only understand every other word of the basics.

One way I have found to make being a kid fun is to play cartoons or even your childhood memories in a different language.  Norway for instance ran a version of Sesame Street called Sesam Stasjon which can be found on YouTube.
Additionally, I would recommend searching in your foreign language's Google for kid's games or even kid's websites.  This content is easy to find and there are relevant sites.  One of the sites I have found interesting for learning geography in Norwegian has been http://www.gruble.net/geografi/.  The site also offers other activities which could aid in my language learning.  At first, It may be embarrassing to practice on these sites, but the content is generally completely relevant to beginning students as well as being completely free!

Have fun being a kid again while you learn a new language.  Who knows you may even enjoy it more than you think!
<![CDATA[Learning Languages through Youtube]]>Tue, 17 Jun 2014 20:11:27 GMThttp://sixmonthstofluency.weebly.com/blog/learning-languages-through-youtubeOne of the most helpful online learning resources for me has been YouTube.  There is so much content on YouTube, you sometimes forget it is not just for funny cat and music videos.   A simple search for your language, depending on its popularity, can yield you hundreds, if not thousands of hours of content.  

For me one of the best YouTubers for Norwegian is Crienexzy - Norwegian Teacher.

Her videos are generally short enough to keep me interested as well as focused on topics that are relevant to my language learning.  Here's an example of Karin's video and one which helped me tremendously. 

Also remember to like, follow, and subscribe to their social media outlets and try to be involved in their community.  You never know what other resources you may find by sticking around!

Good luck on finding a Youtuber that can assist you with your language learning goals! 
<![CDATA[Keep Language Learning Relevant - World Cup Vocab]]>Tue, 17 Jun 2014 00:09:57 GMThttp://sixmonthstofluency.weebly.com/blog/keep-language-learning-relevant-world-cup-vocab

Expanding new vocabulary can be fun to do when it's tied to current events.  With the world encapsulated in the World Cup, I took it upon myself to learn the vocabulary of the world's game, soccer, in my chosen language, Norwegian.  Here are a list of words I chose to learn to better understand Norwegian World Cup coverage on my favorite, easy to read news site, Klartale.no.

soccer - fotball
World Cup - VM (Verdens Mesterskap or VM for short)
goal - mål
game - kamp
kick - spark
pass - pasning
ball - ball
foul - feil
corner - hjørnespark
defense - forsvar
offense - angrep
draw/tie - uavgjort
win - seier (noun) vinne (verb)
loss - tap
card- kort (red - rød) (yellow - gult)
forward - "angrep" (offensive position) or "spiss"
goalie - keeper
header - heade
tackle - takle/takling
offside - offside
penalty - straffe/straffespark
shot - skudd
save - redde/redning
steal - stjel
possession - besittelse
referee - dommer
throw - innkast
goalpost - stolpe
pitch/field - bane
freekick - frispark
team - lag
national team - landslag
fans/supporter - tilhengere

Since Norway is not in the World Cup, my full support is behind the USA. Who's your team?

Good luck with your language learning and remember to keep it relevant to current events and your interests.

Ha det bra!

<![CDATA[Learning More than the Language pt. 2]]>Fri, 13 Jun 2014 12:36:34 GMThttp://sixmonthstofluency.weebly.com/blog/learning-more-than-the-language-pt-2As a continuation from yesterday's post, I am examining the economy and culture of Norway while I continue my journey to fluency.  Today's post examines the number of vacation days, prison population, and Norway's socialistic economy.

Most governments legally require companies to offer a certain amount of payed vacation days. One study, No-Vacation Nation, showed the number of payed vacation days required by law, in the 21 wealthiest countries. Norway sat near the top of study with 5 work weeks of paid vacation which is legally required. Only France offered more payed vacation, 6 weeks. The United States is the only one of the 21 wealthiest country that does not have a law on the number of paid vacation days offered by companies. Japan and Canada, with the second lowest amount of legally paid vacation days, offered two weeks minimum. U.S. law also makes no provisions for national paid holidays, as is also the case in Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

There are still other issues that I believe impact the standard of living which are not covered in the Human Development Report. The World Prison Population List displays the number of jailed population per 100,000 people. The United States has the highest prison population rate in the world, 756 per 100,000 of the national population, followed by St. Kitts & Nevis (714), Seychelles (709), U.S. Virgin Is. (539), Barbados (521), and Cuba (510). Norway has only 72 inmates per 100,000 of the national population.

Then there is the very socialistic economic and social model used by the Norwegian government. The Nordic Model explains the complexities and contradictions of their government. Although to explain it in easier terms, Norway maintains a Scandinavian welfare model with universal health-care, subsidized higher education, and a comprehensive social security system.

However, this socialistic economy and social model do come at a high cost to Norwegians. The tax rate before deductions in Norway is around 40%, which is on pace with the United States at 42%. The main difference comes with sales tax, or as Norway calls it value added tax. In Norway, the standard rate of VAT is 25 per cent. In the case of domestic sales, VAT is calculated on the sales price. The rate of VAT on the supply of foodstuffs is 14%. Foodstuffs means any item of food or drink or any other goods intended for human consumption.

Knowing and understanding the culture and economy of your language's country can keep you interested in learning and provides you with a context when you begin reading and digesting more native content.

Lykke til!

<![CDATA[Understanding More than the Language pt. 1]]>Thu, 12 Jun 2014 22:25:36 GMThttp://sixmonthstofluency.weebly.com/blog/understanding-more-than-the-language-pt-1

When studying a language I feel it is important to understand not only the language but also the economy and culture. So while learning Norwegian I am also trying to learn and understand the economy as well.

The Human Development Report is an annual ranking based largely on average levels of education and income. In 2013, Norway was ranked number one on the Human Development Index. This ranking also includes factors such as life expectancy, human rights, and cultural freedom. Norway is weighed high for its literacy rate in addition to educational levels and material wealth.

Here are some statistics from the report concerning Norway. The life expectancy at birth is 81.3, mean (average) years of education is 12.6, and the GNI (Gross National Income) per capita is $48,688.

Comparatively, the United States ranks third in the world under the Human Development Index. The life expectancy at birth is 78.7, mean (average) years of education is 13.3, and the GNI (Gross National Income) per capita is $43,480.

From looking at the Human Development Report, Norway and the United States have very similar standards of living.

How peaceful a country is inevitably falls into the standard of living of a country, but this is not included in the HDI study. The Global Peace Index uses 23 indicators to determine the most peaceful country as defined by the study, where internal peace is weighted higher at 60%, and external peace is only worth 40%. Some variables include the amount of imported and exported weapons, number of military personnel per 100,000 people, as well as some internal peace factors such as number of homicides and number of police officers per 100,000 people. In this study, the United States sits at 99 out of 162 countries studied while Norway ranks 11. Although the study is somewhat subjective and peace is a difficult variable to define, it does provide at least a view of how "peaceful" a country is.

There are other variables I am still interested in learning so keep a look out for part two?

If you studied any of this while studying a language, what did you find interesting about your countries economics and culture?

<![CDATA[Meeting Native Speakers Online!]]>Thu, 05 Jun 2014 19:32:37 GMThttp://sixmonthstofluency.weebly.com/blog/meeting-native-speakers-online
To me, having a group of individuals to support you with language learning is super important.  They will be there to push you. help you when you are struggling, and make language learning fun.

For me, one of the best ways to connect with native speakers and practice writing and grammar of a language can be through forum use.  It is so simple to join and you can make connections within minutes of posting that will help you on your journey to literacy and fluency.

One of the best forums I have found for language learning is UniLang.  They offer specific language learning sub-forums for over 50 languages.  Additionally, the website offers other resources such as videos, courses, and games.  If you spend time making connections on a language forum, you may make friends who make you want to come back.  This will make learning a language less like memorizing words and more like conversations with an old friend.

Take a stab at a getting to know some people on a language learning forum and you may even have the opportunity to practice speaking to them over Skype once the relationship builds.  It is so important to speak the language with a native speaker whenever the opportunity arises. 

It's as easy as putting yourself out there!

Lykke til!
<![CDATA[Free Interactive Online Language Learning]]>Mon, 02 Jun 2014 23:33:39 GMThttp://sixmonthstofluency.weebly.com/blog/free-interactive-online-language-learningPracticing a language can become quite tiring if all you are doing is vocabulary memorization through traditional books and flashcards.  So today I will highlight three fun and *free websites you can use to help make your language learning varied and captivating.

This website, after signing up, shows you a list of words in the language you are wanting to learn and asks you to translate them back to your native tongue.  This practice is interactive as it will show you translations of the words you do not know.
Mango Languages
Mango gives a nice free trial of their software, although after a period you will have to pay if you wish to continue the service.  This website focuses on getting you immersed into language learning quickly.  The online software has a native speaker who provides common phrases to you.  Then you will be asked to repeat the phrase to practice your pronunciation.   Additionally, you will start to slowly understand the grammar as you are seeing everything written in both your native tongue and the language you are learning.   This practice is interactive as each slide has new information and all the content is broken up into chapters.
Lastly, Livemocha is a free* (payed services available) language learning community.  On this site, individuals can work through lessons provided by Livemocha.   In order to unlock these lessons, members must assist others by rating other users submissions of written or spoken activities by other users.  Helping others gives you points which you can then spend on lessons.  If you are not willing or do not have the time to support others in their learning, you can purchase "beans", LiveMocha's currency, to purchase these lessons.  Each lesson is 99 beans and the company sells the lessons for 99 beans each.  This service is truly unique as it is entirely based on the language learning community to fuel the service. 

Personally, I have used both LiveMocha (the old version) and Mango Languages (free trial).  I have enjoyed and learned from both.  They are so interactive and make learning fun.  Unfortunately LiveMocha updated it's software and has not added all the languages it use to have, so Norwegian is no longer on the site as of now.

Lykke til!
<![CDATA[I love you?  Understanding cultural differences through language!]]>Tue, 27 May 2014 21:18:28 GMThttp://sixmonthstofluency.weebly.com/blog/i-love-you-understanding-cultural-differences-through-language In the US, I love you can be used for all loved ones, including parents, children, spouses, and significant others. 

Whereas in Norway, there are two different phrases for showing affection.  One phrase is for friends and family and the other is usually reserved only for romantic partners.

The first is below.

Jeg er glad i deg directly translates to I am happy in you.  A person would use this phrase to express affection toward a parent or to a very close friend.  Norwegians would not say Jeg er glad i deg when ending a telephone call with a loved one or after leaving a loved one’s presence, like we may with I love you, in the US

Jeg elsker deg translates to I love you and is the phrase used between partners.  I am told parents can say this to their young children, but it fades as the child grows older.  I was told by one Norwegian friend that if she told her father Jeg elsker deg, it would feel like incest. 

Understanding the idea that knowing words in a language does not always translate to understanding culture is very important.  With this in mind, I will leave you with some language learning inspiration from 17 year polyglot, Tim Doner.

<![CDATA[The 1,000 Most Common Words and How to Say Them]]>Mon, 26 May 2014 03:01:39 GMThttp://sixmonthstofluency.weebly.com/blog/the-1000-most-common-words-and-how-to-say-them I would be lying if I said I didn't know a little Norwegian.  I have been around the language a lot.  I even lived in Norway for six months!  As shown by many people, you can only learn a language in a foreign country if you really want to.  It was too easy for me in Norway to get others to speak English and they were more than willing because of my horrendous Norwegian.

So with an understanding of basic phrases and words, it's hard for me to say I am complete beginner.  At this point I need to master the basics I already know, become more comfortable speaking, and expand my vocabulary. 

As Chris Lonsdale said in the video in my first post, you only need to know approximately 1,000 words of English to understand 85% of daily communication.  Taking this literally, I found a site  that offers the 1,000 most common Norwegian words.  This website also offers these lists for about 30 other languages.  So if you are looking for a great vocab list of relevant words for the language you are learning, stop looking and learn what you need to know!

Out of the first 100 most common Norwegian words, I know about 80 and out of the next 100, I know about 50.  The words I didn't know or recognize immediately got thrown into my vocab studies which I am trying to look at daily.  This list will be saved and referenced whenever I need new words to learn!

However, for me, being able to recognize a word in writing does now translate to understanding it in conversation.  This led me to find another great online resource for word pronunciation. Forvo.com is a web based pronunciation guide for 318 languages.  It is completely free and user generated.  If you have a word you would like pronounced you can post it and hope a native speaker will respond. 

These pronunciations are great when I am stumped and Karoline, my fiance, is not around or is too annoyed with my constant "How do I say this!?".

Jeg vil skriver på norsk litt på slutten av innleggene mine.

Inntil mitt neste innlegg! Ha det bra!

<![CDATA[Learning Norwegian in Six Months]]>Sat, 24 May 2014 19:00:51 GMThttp://sixmonthstofluency.weebly.com/blog/learning-a-norwegian-in-six-months
This TEDx Talk featuring Chris Lonsdale, creator of Kungfu English and author of The Third Ear, is my inspiration for how I can learn and become fluent in a second language within six months.  He outlines five principles and seven actions which  he considers paramount for learning a language.

Chris never explains exactly what he means by speaking fluently, but I would like to have conversational Norwegian skills in six months.  In his talk, Chris says knowing 3,000 English words allows you to understand approximately 98% of daily conversation.  This is where I would like to be in six months.

To become fluent in six months, I am going to be using mostly online FREE resources to learn Norwegian.  Additionally, I will have my Norwegian fiance, Karoline, as my language partner to practice at home.  My goal at the end of six months will be to speak to have a great conversation with Karoline's grandmother who does not speak English.  I have known her grandmother for almost 5 years and have never truly had a conversation with her without an interpreter.

This blog will be the place which keeps me on track.  I will highlight websites I have found with great language learning information, feature unique FREE online language learning tools, and most importantly, share my experiences in the journey to learn a second language.