Recently Duolingo implemented a new system utilizing what they call crowns. This update has received a mixed reception. Some people love it and some would rather revert to a simpler time. I personally love the crowns update and have been using it to improve my Norwegian abilities even more. Continue reading “Leveling Up My Duolingo Norwegian Tree With Crowns”
Part of learning a new language is vocabulary. While it may not be the most fun activity in the world, you’re going to need to do quite a few flashcard drills to really internalize those first 100, 1,000 and 5,000 words.
For now, we’re going to skip over thinking about the exact number of words you’re looking to learn, and instead focus on how many you should be learning every day.
What’s Your Motivation?
If any of you have done any theater, you’ve definitely heard this question before, but I think it applies to pretty much any situation in life. In order to determine the number of new words you should learn each day, you may want to think about why you’re doing it. If you’re learning a new language for fun, it’s a bit less urgent than if you need to attain a certain proficiency in the language for work or school.
If you need to learn a certain number of words by a certain date, determining how many words you should learn a day is easy. Take the total number of words, then divide it by the time period. If you have enough time, I strongly recommend giving yourself a large buffer. So, if you need to learn 1,000 words in three months, I’d build in an extra two weeks of time at the end to internalize everything, and to allow for catching up, should you miss a day or two.
So, to break it down pretty simply, plotting out learning 1,000 words in three months would look something like this:
3 months = ~90 days
90-14 (two weeks of “buffer time”) = 76 days
1000 words / 76 days = ~13 words/day
13 words a day is entirely reasonable and manageable, and this would be a great timeline. Let’s say, however, that you’re learning far more words without any sort of pressing deadline and want to figure out what you should be learning per day.
How Much Time Can You Give?
You’re going to want to fit down with your flashcards (or flashcard app, or website, etc.) at least twice a day to really internalize the new vocabulary. Just looking at each word a few times won’t really help you learn. So, consider blocking out time in the morning and at night for exposure to the new words.
How much time, you ask? Great question. I like to block out 1 minute per new word per day for flashcard practice. This isn’t a hard and fast formula, but can help you block out a time in your schedule for vocab practice. Included in this, is reviewing old words and anything that you may need a little extra help with. It’s a rough formula that I’ve found to be pretty accurate over the past year or so of language learning. I aim to learn about 25 new words a day in Norwegian, which roughly equates to 10-15 minutes of vocab practice twice a day.
Think about how many minutes free time you have in a day, just for vocab practice (so, not counting any other language learning activities you may be doing), and then divide that by two. This is a good indicator of how many words you can reasonably learn in a day.
Can I learn 100 new words a day?
I mean, technically, if you spend a lot of time doing vocabulary you can absolutely learn a bunch of new words a day, short term. But, is this a sustainable model? Probably not. Eventually, you’re likely going to burn out, forget meanings and become frustrated with the whole process. I’d recommend for sanity’s sake, trying to keep your learning targets to 50 or fewer new words per day. 50 new words a day is still just 100 days to learn 5000 words, which is a pretty incredible feat!
Like I mentioned previously, I’ve been working on learning about 25 words a day in Norwegian, and this seems to be working out well for me! The number of new words you can learn in a day will vary with your schedule, and everything else you may have going on in your life, but hopefully this post has given you something to think about!
How many words per day do you typically try and learn?
We’ve all got a list of languages we’d like to learn, whether it’s just that one you’re trying to remember from your high school classes, or the ten that you wish you knew already. Compound this with the seemingly endless trudge that language learning can present at times, and it’s easy to start daydreaming of the next language you want to tackle. But when should you start learning another language? Continue reading “When Should You Start Learning a New Language?”
I’ve been teaching myself Norwegian for a little over nine months now, and while I’ve been pleased with my language learning progress, there are definitely areas that could use improvement.
I thought it would be a good idea to share the mistakes I’ve made learning Norwegian so that someone else teaching themselves this beautiful language (or any language, really) might avoid the same pitfalls.
The one thing that many internet resources will tell you about learning Norwegian is that it is one of the easiest languages for English speakers to tackle. I had read this in a few places (and even allowed it to push me a bit into learning Norwegian), and so this idea was burned into my brain. While I definitely had a very serious attitude in the first few months of learning, after I finished the Duolingo tree, I let complacency take over and figured, “it’s supposed to be an easy language, so I can back off now.”
Consequently, I focused less and less on improving my skills and actually backslid a little over the next few months, always thinking that I could just pick up the pace again if I felt like it. Were I to start this process over again, I would definitely keep up the more rigorous pace, and try to think less about whether or not the language is “easy” to learn.
2. Starting at an Unreasonable Pace
When I first set out to learn Norwegian, I had read that it was not unreasonable for someone fluent in German to learn the language in six months. I’m not at all fluent in German, but had reached B1 level in uni and figured that would help me out a bit. So, I set myself the goal of reaching B2 in six months, thinking I would do the Duolingo course over the first three and then just relentlessly drill vocabulary for the next three.
This idea proved to be a bit ambitious. While I did finish the Duolingo course in less than three months, I also burned myself out completely and ended up taking a week-long break (just doing the bare minimum). This turned into a two week period of doing very minimal practice, and then a month-long break. Had I just been a little more judicious about my timeline, I could have avoided the burnout and kept going instead of coming to a near complete stop.
3. Not Listening Enough
Listening is such an integral aspect to language learning, and even more so with languages like Norwegian that have a lot of dialects. I spent a lot of time in the very beginning searching out programs on NRK.no and listening to Norwegian podcasts, but that started to fade after a few months, when I didn’t feel like I was making much progress. It wasn’t a conscious thing, so much as something I realized when I took a look back at my methods.
Something I’m working on now is trying to have a podcast or TV show in Norwegian playing in the background while I do dishes or make dinner – times when I would normally just replay The Office or 30 Rock for the millionth time. This is important for getting exposure to the many dialects that exist, as well as the more colloquial terms that aren’t really found in courses.
4. Not Diversifying Vocabulary
When I first found the Duolingo Norwegian companion flashcard course on Memrise, I was elated. It seemed perfect! I could learn the course words much more effectively, and not worry about having to make my own flashcards.
What I didn’t realize is that this would actually end up limiting me. I focused solely on the Duolingo words, and while there are certainly quite a few of them, I didn’t broaden my exposure enough at the beginning.
I have since found a 5,000 most frequently used Norwegian Words course on Memrise that I’m integrating into my routine. Many of the words overlap, which is part of why I avoided using these courses at the beginning, but now I wish I had incorporated them sooner.
5. Not Reading Enough
I know, if I wasn’t listening and wasn’t doing enough vocabulary exercises, and wasn’t reading… what the heck was I doing? Basically, spinning my wheels and repeating Duolingo exercises and the Memrise decks that I already knew. Too much reviewing, not enough utilizing or learning new material.
I had purchased the first Harry Potter book for myself in Norwegian, as well as another fun young adult fantasy novel (which I would HIGHLY recommend!), but it frustrated me that there were so many words I didn’t know, so I burned out fast.
I wish I had focused less on translating everything I didn’t know, and just chugged on through at the beginning. I realized this recently when I was reading without a wifi connection, and while I didn’t necessarily understand a word the first or second time, eventually I would see it enough times in different contexts to be able to figure it out. I think I would have progressed faster had I just stuck with this method from the start.
To Summarize: My 5 Biggest Mistakes When Learning Norwegian
Since realizing these little errors, I’ve managed to try and reign myself back in and focus more fully on learning Norwegian, but I’ve definitely set myself back. If you’re set on teaching yourself Norwegian, I would strongly recommend setting a reasonable plan with a mix of vocab, listening and reading and then just stick with it. It’s better to learn fewer words every day and actually continue than it is to set a high goal for yourself, burn out and then do nothing for a month.
I hope this list was helpful for you in determining the best methods for learning Norwegian. Of course, everyone is different, so you may prefer to do things in a slightly altered way, but for the most part, this advice can apply to any learning methods. Basically, just stick to what works for you and don’t over-complicate things.
Just over a month ago, I finished the Duolingo Norwegian tree, and got a 5.0 on the quiz. Not a bad place to be, when going into a totally self-directed study program. Of course, Duolingo is also self-directed, but having the structure of the lessons was incredibly helpful to me.
I had a plan, or at least I thought I had a plan: I would read Harry Potter og de Vises Stein every day and watch Norwegian media when I could, while continuing to do review sessions in Duolingo, and Memrise. I would also start using Clozemaster for more practice with common words. This would have been great!
So, what happened? Memrise was the first thing to go. I ended up skipping a few days due to work getting busy (I work in a seasonal industry, and had started this journey in the two months of the year when we’re basically off). Then, the words started piling up, and before I knew it, there were over 1,000 words to review. So, I got overwhelmed and decided to just let it go.
Bad decision. Fast forward a month, and while I kept up every day with Duolingo review and with reading/watching/listening to various Norwegian media…I forgot a lot. Mind you, I’m still on track to achieve a B2 level of speaking ability in six months (my goal for Norwegian), but I definitely need to ramp up my effort. I’ve decided I have to reincorporate Memrise into my daily routine. I know a lot of language learners prefer Anki, but I actually like Memrise better (on desktop). It’s pretty nit-picky, so whenever I make a small typo, the word ends up in my review rotation quicker, which I think is helpful.
How did this happen? In a nutshell, I got complacent. I figured that since I had made so much progress in the first few months, I could slow down a little every few days. Every few days turned into every day, and before I knew it, I was set back quite a bit.
So, time to turn it around and start learning for real again! I’ve gotten back into the routine of reviewing quite a bit on Memrise (it was definitely frustrating working down from needing to review almost 3k words, but it was worth it!).
I’ve been struggling to get through Harry Potter because I don’t really have that large a vocabulary (while Duo certainly provides a great basis, there are just so many words out there!), so my next focus is simply to increase my vocab!
I’ve been continuing to watch SKAM and listen to podcasts to hear the language more, since that’s another huge roadblock for me! I’ve also started using Mondly, which I actually really like as a companion to Duo. There seems to be a slightly different approach, and some different vocabulary.
I’ll try to update this blog with any new resources I come across!
Ha det. 🙂
It seems like just yesterday that I finished the Duolingo Norwegian tree, but it’s been a little bit over three weeks. I’m still doing at least 5 “strengthen skills” sessions every day, though now I’m mixing things up with timed practice sessions as well. I figure I’ll continue doing those for a while. Though some people may not be a fan of Duolingo’s sentences, I actually really like the repetiton. After all, isn’t that what language learning is? Continue reading “100 Days of Learning Norwegian”
Oh my goodness – I can’t believe I’m saying this already, but it’s been 78 days of daily study, and I have finished the Norwegian tree on Duolingo! It’s been a lot of work, but is definitely worth it. All of those extra “strengthen skills” sessions were totally worth it! Continue reading “Duolingo Norwegian in 78 Days!”