Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Only 2 weeks - with norsk.

Languages are hard. It takes long to learn them well enough to enjoy the fruits of one's labors. Why then am I doing it to myself again? Oh well, why not?

This blog will be a very short blog. Its purpose is to help me chronicle my attempt to learn as much Norwegian as I can in 2 weeks.

Why 2 weeks only? To see if it sticks. I've had some luck with languages in the past but not so much with language blogs. The long-term commitment the learning of a language seems to demand doesn't translate well in my mind to the blogging commitment of
similar scope. But anybody can handle 2 weeks!

In the book Babel No More, the author Michael Erard talks about hyperpolyglots - people who speak many (oh, so many!) languages with some levels of fluency. He writes that those hyperpolyglots often describe the ease with which they learned a language. Some of them can immerse themselves into a language enough to produce some proper linguistic output in a very short time. Very short compared to years of language classes that we're often subjected to as part of public education.

A lot of my foreign language education happened in the classroom. Russian was mercilessly inflicted upon me when I was 10 and it didn't go away until I was 17 (I swear it felt like it went on for much, much longer). German I welcomed into my life at 13, and it stayed with me till I was 24, at which point I had to replace it with English. That one has been in my life for the last 13 years. In the meantime, I've done some Latin and some French. At least to some extent, I've learned those languages in the classroom.

My first experiment at linguistic self-education, with no formal instruction and not much human contact in the language, was Italian. I even put my self-acquired skills to the test and after about 4 months of intensive labors I passed a standardized language test at a B1 level (self-established). The 86% mark that I received at that time made me feel invincible.

Norwegian is going to bring that feeling back into my life. It will be another self-attempt, but I will take it to the next level. Normally even when I'm only at a stage of considering learning a language, I'm already predisposed to go to a bookstore and purchase all kinds of learning materials, from textbooks to dictionaries. The library receives my frantic requests for whatever they happen to have in whatever language I happen to be getting interested in. Usually by the time I start Lesson 1, I have a sizable obsession and a language library of an equal size.

This time will be different.

This time no book will be purchased - not even a dictionary. I know how much it is going to cost me but this time the materials I will use will be mostly online. The bookcase in my room that currently houses all my language materials will not gain a Norwegian section.

I'm very proud of myself for this. This time will totally be different.

I intend to talk about this learning experience - if only to myself. It's hard to learn from an unexamined educational experience, and I intend to make most out of this one. At least for 2 weeks.