Language learning tips for beginners

Do you sometimes wish you knew mnemonic (easier-to-remember) devices to make learning easier? Here are a few tips:

  1. Learn one of the Scandinavian languages consistently, and always pay attention to the similarities and differences with the other languages when you visit Scandinavia, too!
    For example, once you understand the system of attached articles (en telefon – a telephone, telefonen – the telephone) you can read the other central Scandinavian languages with relative ease.
  2. Welcome mnemonic bridges for learning are of course the relationships of the Scandinavian languages with English. Play detective and track down these relationships – even if you come across English words that are outdated or have slightly changed in meaning:
    Swedish/Norwegian alltid, Danish altid – English all the time/always
    Swedish klocka, Norwegian/Danish klokke – English clock
    Or the other way round:
    English pen – dänisch pen, Swedish penna, Norwegian penn
    English take – Danish tage (nehmen), Swedish/Norwegian ta
    English sick – Swedish sjuk, Norwegian syk, Danish syg
    English much/many – Swedish mycket/många, Norwegian mye/mange,
    Danish meget/mange
  3. Be aware of the proximity to English, e.g.:
    pen – Danish pen, Swedish penna, Norwegian penn
    take – Danish tage, Swedish/Norwegian ta
    sick – Swedish sjuk, Norwegian syk, Danish syg
    much/many – Swedish mycket/många, Norwegian mye/mange,
    Danish meget/mange
  4. Make a list of false friends! Because on the one hand the closeness to German invites to understand many things easily, on the other hand you have to avoid learning wrong meanings. Here is a sample list for Swedish to continue:

    Swedish meaning English Swedish word
    koka boil cook laga mat
           
           
  5. Learn with product names!
    For example, in the supermarket you can find a margarine that contains the Swedish adjective lätt. In the drugstore there is a product line called Barnängen, which means nothing else than „The children’s meadow“ (barn = children, äng = meadow).
    At a large furniture store, you may have eaten Köttbullar, which means meatballs (kött = meat, bullar = small balls). Please pronounce it correctly, too, with teh German /ch/-sound at the beginning 🙂
    In general, the product names of the furniture store offer a wealth of learning opportunities, especially for verbs and adjectives: A tray is called Bärbar (bära = to carry, -bar = adjective ending meaning „able, possible“), a bed linen Gäspa (= to yawn), a spice mill Kryddig (krydda = spice).
    The most typical Norwegian product on the market is probably Ekte Geitost (real goat cheese: geit = goat, ost = cheese). And a Danish jam company is called Den gamle fabrik (The old factory). Meanwhile, you can even find Icelandic skyr (cream cheese) in the refrigerated section!
  6. Switch your mobile phone to the foreign language and you will involuntarily learn a) how to navigate the language and b) important words.
  7. Listen to the radio – just on the side, while cooking, doing sports, hanging up laundry! It is not important to listen actively. The language nests in your head also through passive listening. At the beginning you only hear individual words, after a while you understand more and more without much effort.
  8. Use online newspapers in easy language:
    Swedish: 8SIDOR
    Norwegian: Klartale  und  Utrop
    Danish: Ligetil
    Finnish: Selkosanomat (very easy), Selkosanomat
  9.  Find a fitness program in the foreign language! Hardly ever will you learn the language so easily and automatically as with the combination of motorical activity and language. My recommendation for Swedish: the 20-minute Hemmagympa training sessions by Sofia from Sweden!
  10. Learn 1 word a day! On the internet there are various possibilities for this – or you simply look for a word, specifically or completely at random and write it down or learn it by heart. Repeat it several times a day, then it sticks better!

Pick a few tips that you personally find work well for you. Not all tips are suitable for everyone. But if you follow a few tips for learning, you have already half conquered Scandinavia!

Language learning tips for beginners