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?”
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!”
I first started learning Norwegian ar the end of January (55 days ago, according to my Duolingo streak!). At this point, I had not yet heard of the Norwegian highschool drama that had swept the world, SKAM.
If you also haven’t heard of SKAM, it is a webseries-cum-television sensation set in a Norwegian highschool, and following the daily lives of a group of students. While it is somewhat dramatic, the series isn’t quite as on-the-nose with its themes as other, similar programs. Instead of Very Special Episodes devoted to “teen issues” such as eating disorders, sexual assault, drinking too much or bullying, these ideas are woven into the narrative naturally. The realism is striking, and allows the viewer to identify so much with the characters.
There are also a lot of modern twists here – show producers set up social media accounts for characters that are active while the series is airing. Want to know what your favorite character had for lunch that day? Check their instagram. The show also uses text messages between characters as another way to demonstrate what’s going on. Entire subplots take place through text alone. Another unique aspect of the show is that the episodes are titatrated out on the web throughout the week. A new clip might be posted on a Thursday night, where the characters are out at a party. The next clip might be released Friday morning, as the friends sort through the aftermath in school.
The series is interesting, and different, and so I thought I’d give it a try to help learn Norwegian – and was that ever a good decision!
For starters, the kids on the show speak like real, live teenagers. This is neat, because you quickly become exposed to slang, curses and other colloquialisms not taught in traditional Norwegian courses. You also get a variety of examples of the cadence of Norwegian. With such a musicial language, it’s nice to have many points of reference for how it is actually spoken. This is something that was certainly missing from the online newspaper and podcast, Klare Tale (still an awesome resource!).
SKAM is also a good introduction to other dialects of Norwegian. Norway has quite a few different dialects, which can seem overwhelming on paper. Listening to one of the other characters who speaks the dialect from Bergen, you get a better understand of how these dialects work.
SKAM also provides a good sense of how people text, and the abbreviations which have become present in all languages in written digital communication. There are likely not going to be many opportunities for me to actually utilize this, but who knows! Maybe someday…
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m obviously not using only SKAM to learn, but this series certainly provides some new material, and a pretty fun plot. I’m definitely a fan, and can’t wait for the next season!
So, a few days ago, I officially hit 45 days of learning Norwegian with Duolingo! I’m pretty excited, as this is the most time I’ve put into language learning since university. By far. In fact, I think these 45 days have already surpassed the knowledge I acquired in my German I course from uni, which was really intensive, and definitely not free.
I’ve been keeping up with my daily routine, and doing a minimum of five practice sessions a day has kept my tree gold the entire time. I’m really trying to keep up with everything, so as to actually internalize all the new vocabulary. Sometimes it’s a bit more difficult, as there will be a lesson with 70+ words one day, and I end up forgetting a bunch by the next day. However, I’ve discovered that even if I don’t know the words on the first or second day, they eventually seep their way into my brain (thanks to both Duo and Memrise).
I’ve also started watching SKAM, which I hadn’t heard of until I started learning Norwegian, but I’m glad I stumbled upon it! I’ll definitely be writing more about this show later, because it’s so entertaining, and actually pretty helpful!
It’s hard to see a huge progress, as there’s still so much I don’t know, and duolingo sort of scales up with you so you’re always working at your current level. I definitely feel like I’m getting somewhere, though!
One thing I’ve noticed is that it’s harder for me to memorize the large batches of vocabulary all in one or two days. I’ve definitely been forgetting more and more. Fortunately, Memrise has really been helping to try to keep me up to date.
I’ve also decided that I should just plug through the 90 days, learn as much as possible, and then when I’ve hit the 90 days, just keep reviewing until I know everything solidly. I may give myself a week to just completely review everything before moving onto the next material!
I’ve also yet to figure out what the next set of material is, exactly….
I’m officially 42 days into my 100 days of learning Norwegian with Duolingo, and I thought I’d take a moment to talk about the difference between using the app, and using the desktop site. Because I am learning Norwegian right now, which is not one of the main languages, there will be some differences. So, if you are learning French, Spanish, German or another “main” language, you will have a few more options in the app and on the site. Continue reading “The Pros and Cons of the Duolingo App”
I’m on day 35 of learning Norwegian with Duolingo, and I have to admit that it has gotten frustrating at moments. A lot of the time, I look at the sentences in a lesson or review session and think to myself, “When am I ever going to use this?” Continue reading “Why Duolingo’s Sentences Aren’t Useless”
In the spirit of trying to be Fluent for Free, I’ve put together a little plan for myself that doesn’t cost a dime, and will hopefully get me to B1 proficiency in Norwegian in around three months. If you’re curious about why I’m learning Norwegian of all languages, you can check out this post!
This plan requires several hours of study per day, but can easily be modified for those with far less time to invest. I’m using a combination of free websites and apps to maximize the language learning experience, and really have a more rounded set of tools to work with. As I find more resources, I’ll be sure to update this page!
Duolingo (Website & App)
The backbone of this entire language learning experience is Duolingo. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Duolingo is a free website with companion apps for Apple devices, Android devices and Windows devices. It’s often cited as the best free language program you will actually use, and so far I can’t disagree. The Duolingo Norwegian course is incredibly well put together, and depending on how much work you put int, can get you to A2/B1 proficiency upon completion.
Every morning, I start out by doing 5 review sessions before I even think of learning anything new. If the review sessions were a bit shakey, I do 5 more until I feel more confident with what I had learned the day before. These review sessions are important for keeping the information fresh in your mind, and for keeping the tree gold.
I also learn at least one new complete skill every day, no matter what. There are 114 “lessons” in the Duolingo Norwegian tree, each with 2.-7 mini lessons. Learning at least one full lesson a day should get me to a completed tree within three months.
After learning the lesson, I will do another 5 review sessions (at least) to solidify the new information. I try to do a mix of general “strengthen skills” reviews, and of lesson-specific ones, depending on what I feel needs some extra attention.
Memrise (Website & App)
The second part of this plan is using a flashcard program/website to drill vocabulary. I found a flashcard deck on Memrise that corresponds to the Duolingo Norwegian course, and so before I learn a new lesson, I make sure to learn the words in Memrise. I also write down all of the words for that lesson in a notebook to make them stick in my brain a little better.
Memrise also keeps track of how well you learn each word/phrase, in order to present them for review at the appropriate times. I usually log in to Memrise 2-3 times a day (for about 5-10 minutes each time) to review vocabulary.
Another neat feature of Memrise, is that there is audio attached to many of the words, so you can actually hear native speakers pronouncing things.
Supplemental Norwegian Resources
Duolingo and Memrise are the structured part of my learning. When I’ve got a few extra moments, or want something a little more immersive and engaging, there are a few more websites I sprinkle in here and there to improve reading and listening skills.
Clozemaster (Website & App)
Clozemaster aims to teach a language with context. Basically, you look at a sentence, and fill in the missing word, either through multiple choice or text input. I’ve been slowly chipping away at the Norwegian Fluency one, though starting with the top 1000 frequency words. I end up playing this for about 10 minutes a day in free time, or while waiting for things like laundry to finish or food to cook.
Clozemaster has a TON of languages to choose from, and many can be learned from several native tongues (not just English!).
KlarTale.no (Website & Podcast)
KlarTale.no is an online newspaper written in “lett norsk,” or “light/easy Norwegian.” The articles are all written with simple enough structure that a beginner can easily follow along. There is also a weekly podcast summarizing the news in slow-spoken lett norsk. It’s really helpful for starting to learn!
NRK.no Children’s Shows (Website)
NRK is the official broadcasting channel in Norway, and they have a ton of children’s TV programs available for utlanderer (those of us outsie of Norway) to watch. I’m just going with kids’ shows for now, as the content tends to be more simplistic, and the speech a bit slower.
Many of these shows also have subtitles, and some even have transcripts, so you can follow along as you go.
Norwegian on the Web (Website)
For more listening and reading practice, check out Norwegian on the Web (NoW). There are many dialogues with accompanying text, and mini dictionaries on the side, so you can follow along as you listen, and look up the new words without leaving the browser tab.
The dialogues are about 1-2 minutes long, and have a slowed down version as well as one at normal speed. These are great for comprehension and for hearing native accents.
I’m not sure if there’s anything out there that can’t be learned on YouTube. I really like Learn Norwegian Naturally, and Norsklærer Karense. Both channels teach Norwegian grammar and vocab in Norwegian, and provide some really helpful info! Learn Norwegian Naturally also has an awesome website accompaniement.
There are plenty of other great channels producing content as well, these are just the two I watch the most!
Quick And Dirty Norwegian Grammar
For those times when I just can’t remember something about Norwegian grammar, and the Duolingo notes aren’t providing a sufficient explanation (which is rare – the Norwegian Duolingo class has pretty awesome notes), I turn to University College London’s Quick and Dirty Guide to Norwegian Grammar. It’s easy to understand, and concise.