Suck My Æ Ø Å
Listen up, wannabe bilinguists. I’m going to let you in on a secret: you don’t need Rosetta Stone. Nor do you need adjective flash cards, a pocket-sized phrase book or any teach-yourself course that will make you an expert in pronouncing “the man can run” in the Queen’s English but able to say little else. What you need is to step away from the inanimate and start interacting, and I don’t mean pricey tutorials over Skype. The thought of putting what you’ve learnt into practice can be scary, whether you’re at A1 or C1 stage- it’s fair to compare the feeling to jumping from making coke and menthol rockets to assisting at NASA – but I’m happy to make a bet that it’s the most effective way.
My language classes at school were miserable. I barely remember French class, due to it being my scheduled napping time, and the most memorable moment was a genuine curosity about what the lyrics to ‘Lady Marmalade’ meant and asking my teacher. The result was detention for a week. So it came to my surprise when I spluttered out my first Norwegian sentence…and even more so when two weeks later I could overhear conversations on the bus without it sounding like white noise.
The trick is to tell yourself: “I will say something in another language, and it’ll be embarrassing, but i’ll do it.” Every time I caught myself second guessing saying a sentence as simple as “Hyggelig å møte deg” (nice to meet you), I forced myself. Apparently, a bright red face and sweaty palm only adds to the charm, lucky me. No matter how imperfect my attempts have been, or how much I sound like a gorilla when practising æ, ø and å, my guinea pig Norwegians have only been pleased that I’ve at least tried. It’s a known fact that you can address any Norwegian in English and they’ll understand you – some speak better English than people I know in Devon – but it can still be daunting or awkward for them to speak it. So just make an attempt, whatever language you’re learning, even if it’s just to say “thank you” and I promise people will be happy.
For me, the real push was volunteering at a kindergarten. There is no quicker way to learn a language when a native child under your responsibility is running down a steep cliff…but the methods of learning are up to you. Find a language cafe, an international society and check this great website out: meetup.com..
This was just a quick post to promise you I’m still alive here in the land of fjords and brown cheese. I hope I’ve given you some encouragement to learn a language – if I can do it, you definately can!