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2 Introduction 5 The language gene... 7 Where you are headed... 8 What is your motivation?... 9 Take action PDF

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Contents 1 License 3 2 Introduction 5 The language gene Where you are headed What is your motivation? Take action
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Contents 1 License 3 2 Introduction 5 The language gene Where you are headed What is your motivation? Take action The Method 11 Listening Vocabulary Reading The Foundation Take action Getting Started 17 Listening Flashcards Reading Additional Take Action Practice Schedule 27 Daily Every weekend Cheating Grammar 31 Basics Additional letters Numbers Personal pronouns En or Ett Plural General verb conjugation 2 CONTENTS Added -s Present tense To be somewhere or to go somewhere mer/fler mycket/många mesta/flesta Det finns gång/gånger, tid, dags i/på/om en timme i helgen/på helgen/i måndags present day events ju, nog The different flavours of adjectives (-t, -a) lite/liten/litet/lilla/små det här/där, den här/där, de här/där / denna, detta, dessa sin/sitt, hans, hennes, sina, deras Future: present, ska, kommer att Past: hade+verb, ha+verb, simple past Motivation Boost 55 Music More Books Movies Even More Conclusion 59 Chapter 1 License This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial- ShareAlike 4.0 License. To view a copy of this license, visit cc-by-nc-sa-4.0 or send a letter to Creative Commons, PO Box 1866, Mountain View, CA 94042, USA. I hope you will get a lot out of this guide. However, if you feel that I should elaborate more on some part or if you encounter any problems, then please get in contact with me via my website. Happy learning. Thanks, Michael book v 4 CHAPTER 1. LICENSE Chapter 2 Introduction He who does not know foreign languages, knows nothing of his own. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Hej, I said, Jag tar en kopp kaffé och en kanelbulle, tack. This was my first order for a cup of coffee and a cinnamon bun in Swedish, right after landing at Arlanda Airport near Stockholm in the beginning of July 2014, and it couldn t have gone better. I was handing over my credit card to pay and was already imagining me taking a sip of freshly brewed coffee to celebrate this major victory. Everything seemed to work fine until the cashier looked up from the machine and asked Kan jag få se ditt leg, tack?. I was a bit stunned and my brain was working hard to put the pieces together, obviously I was required to show some sort of ID when using my German credit card in a foreign country. Since I was traveling within the EU I actually didn t have my ID or passport on me, but was wondering if my driver s license could do the job. In my mind I was already rushing through the mental drawers, trying to pin down the Swedish word for driver s license. It would have been easy to give up at that moment as it was quite an unexpected situation for me and the temptation to switch to was big. But I knew I had heard and read the word I was looking for so many times during my studies. I knew I could do it. And there it was: körkort, of course. Jag har bara mitt körkort, går det? I asked with an apologetic smile and was hoping that there wouldn t be an additional question showing up. Absolut she said and quickly glimpsed at my license before I got back my credit card, received my order and ended the conversation with a quick Tack. Hej då!. Nice. That was a great feeling. I did it! was my first thought. I had promised myself not to use as soon as I entered Swedish grounds and it felt good not to have broken that promise hastily. I knew that with every sentence my 5 6 CHAPTER 2. INTRODUCTION confidence would only grow and I was not planning on breaking that chain. With the coffee in my hand and the bun in my bag I was already on my way to the bus stop to catch a ride into town. Flash back to March I had just found out that I got accepted for a Master s degree programme in Gothenburg and would therefore be spending two years in Sweden, starting in September It was at that moment I somehow realised that I did not speak any Swedish. I knew some foreign students back at my university in Germany and they could clearly be divided into two groups: those that made an effort and learned some German and those that did not. While the latter group still had a really nice time in Germany, they were certainly mostly socialising in circles of other exchange students. In contrast to that, the ones that learned some German usually had a much easier time actually making German friends outside of the campus. A perfect example for that was an American guy I got to know as an exchange student in my Bachelor s programme. He had really put some work into learning the language before arriving in Germany and was able to make himself understood from the first day on. He then actively avoided the mostly -speaking exchange student groups and events and quickly became part of our gang. Through that he created heaps of free language learning opportunities for himself and rocketed his German to a decent level of fluency within a couple of weeks. He always liked to emphasize that he thought that a lot of his best experiences in Germany somehow started out by connecting with the local people, something he thought to be directly related to his fluent German. I couldn t agree more with this statement. While I have always liked to speak with the exchange students at the university, I certainly also liked not having to do it at times. When I was for example having a relaxed lunch with my friends or drinking a couple of beers in the evening it just felt more natural to speak German. To me my mothertongue has always been more intuitive and involves less thinking, which I guess is exactly what you want when you are hanging out with your friends. I believe that nowadays you can get along with in most parts of the world quite nicely, but if you want to stay somewhere for an extended period of time and really get to know the culture and people and create some long-lasting friendships it is still very vital to learn the local language. So for me it was an easy decision. If I wanted to be in Sweden for a couple of years I had to learn the language. And with a whole summer and very few plans ahead of me I thought I might as well just begin right away and get a headstart. THE LANGUAGE GENE 7 The language gene You probably found this guide because you are highly unsatisfied with your current experiences of how languages are being taught and the snail pace at which you are supposed to learn them. How can it take several years to get to a decent level of language proficiency? Why is it so incredibly expensive to take language courses? Why is it that many say the only language learning shortcut is to move to that country and fully immerse yourself 24/7? Is there some language gene you should possess or is it just that the current teaching methods suck? That s the questions I had before I started digging a bit deeper and found resources and people that raised similar reservations and tried to propose solutions. My own horizon was probably very limited by the experiences of my language learning attempts in school and university. I ve had 4 years of French back in high school and honestly did not learn anything at all and could not have the most basic conversation today. All that those 4 years taught me were many bad ways to approach language learning. It was a very frustrating experience and despite considering myself to be quite a smart student overall, French remained entirely impenetrable and I attended every lesson with a feeling of fear and defeat. In university I then tried to pick up languages again, somehow thinking that French must have been a big misunderstanding. I enrolled in a Spanish course, paying 120e for 3 months. Unfortunately it was French lessons all over again, focusing on how to conjugate verbs or learning lists of vocabulary that you could not connect to anything even mildly interesting. It just didn t cut it for me. The course felt like a major pain and I quitted early. The funniest thing was probably that this was the first of 8 courses that would step-by-step bring you to some kind of fluency level. The whole package would therefore have taken 2 years and have costed several hundreds of euros. All those experiences were really imprinted in my mind, making language learning seem very hard and highly dependent on talent and the money you were willing to put in. But over the following three months I learned that I had to rewrite a lot of what I had been thinking. I now know that fluency in a language can be reached within only a couple of months.... it does not necessarily have to be very expensive to learn a language, in fact it can come at the price of what the usual courses will charge you for only a few hours. 8 CHAPTER 2. INTRODUCTION... you can reach fluency without ever visiting a country where the language is spoken.... it is indeed the old teaching methods that are ineffective and that there is certainly no such thing as a language gene. Where you are headed In the making of this guide I have received many requests asking me about what I actually mean by fluency and what level of language proficiency one can expect after 3 months of following this guide. Unfortunately I have never actually taken a Swedish language test to determine my level of proficiency after 3 months of learning. Now, after more than a year of actually living in Sweden, it is too late to do it and I have advanced far beyond the level that I had when I first arrived here. In Europe, language proficiency is usually described in terms of CEFR levels. This is the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, a system of 6 levels (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2) from complete beginner to master in a language. The three highest levels (B2, C1, C2) are increasingly advanced levels of fluency. According to this system, and the concise explanations that can be found on Wikipedia, I had just reached the fifth level (C1): Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognize implicit meaning Can express ideas fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organizational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes While I totally agree with the first three statements I have to remark that I do not think that I would have been able to use Swedish for any academic purpose or any complex subject. Even now, more than a year later, I would not say that I could. It is clearly a question of special vocabulary that I simply don t know. However, I think that this is not relevant at all. I don t want to be an expert on all possible topics, because I will never encounter 90% of them. Instead, especially when time is short and valuable, I will always choose to spend my time on things that I really enjoy/am interested in/need for a professional purpose. Adding the required vocabulary to your active language set can then easily be done when it is actually required. With my method this will be a matter of a WHAT IS YOUR MOTIVATION? 9 week. Bottomline: Late B2 or early C1 is where we are headed. And in my eyes that is a perfect level to be able to move to that country, enjoy living there and make any further language progress a matter of basically living your life with open eyes and ears. 1 What is your motivation? For me, there was a clear relation between moving to another country and learning the language. The quality of my life and the ability to make new friends or experience awesome things during that period of time would depend heavily on my knowledge of the language. All those are strong intrinsic (coming from inside yourself) reasons to follow your dream and gain motivation every day even in extended time spans like 3 months. They are crucial to keep you going in the long run and not loose your focus if things should start to become a bit stressful. To shape this mindset I want you to write down at least 3 intrinsic incentives as to why it is important for you to learn Swedish. These have to come from deep inside yourself, as opposed to extrinsic reasons that are imposed on you from the outside. Examples for extrinsic motivation could be: because my employer wants me to because a friend advised me to However, notice that these examples can be converted into intrinsic ones. The first example might just as well be: because I will benefit from it heavily at my job and it will enable me to advance to the position in the company that I always wanted to have Here are some examples for deep intrinsic motivations: because this will enable me to become a Swedish citizen because that way I can help my daughter with her homework because I want to feel more at home here because I want to be able to invite my neighbours over for tea because I do not want to be the outsider because I will feel more comfortable in every-day situations There are thousands of possibilities, try to pick those that seem strongest to you and appeal to you deeply. 1 You can have a look at an example of two learners talking on a C1 level on the websites of Cambridge. This will give you a pretty good idea about what to expect from my guide. 10 CHAPTER 2. INTRODUCTION Take action 1. Grab some paper and a pen and get comfortable. Write down the three most compelling intrinsic motivations you have for becoming fluent in Swedish. Tape this as a note on your bathroom mirror so that you are reminded every morning and evening. 2. Now close your eyes and try to imagine one of your motivations becoming true once you reach your goal. Try to visualize it as vivid and colourful as possible and focus especially on how happy you would feel. Chapter 3 The Method Wherever I see people doing something the way it s always been done, the way it s supposed to be done, following the same old trends, well, that s just a big red flag to me to go look somewhere else. Mark Cuban When I started learning Swedish, I didn t have a clue about what would be the best and most efficient way to do it. All I had was a feeling that my experiences with language learning up to that point couldn t possibly be close to the best way. And I was eager to improve. As an engineering student I am reminded every day to try and see the easy and applicable solutions to complex problems. You don t necessarily have to understand exactly why something works, just knowing that it works is usually good enough. In the same way I am by no means a neuroscientist and can explain to you why this way of learning languages works so incredibly well, but I certainly know that it does. I like reading books about self-improvement and learning and am familiar with the experience that sometimes new concepts can strike you as revolutionary in an instant. You can immediately see how a new habit or a new way of thinking will have a positive impact on your life. Those eureka moments usually define the difference between an awesome and an average performance. You decide which one you want. I ve certainly had a couple of those epiphanies when I dove deep into language learning and that is exactly what this guide is about: I would like to pass them on to you in a purified and condensed form. So here is how it goes. There are three cornerstones in my method that you will incorporate in your daily training. 11 12 CHAPTER 3. THE METHOD Listening You are going to listen to Swedish from the first day on. Mostly interesting radio shows or podcasts that boost your understanding and give you a feeling for the language. Your brain will basically be out in deep water from day one and you will be amazed at how fast it can learn to swim. The national publicly funded radio company in Sweden is Sveriges Radio. They offer a wide range of different programs for everyones taste and also have a brilliant app, available for ios and Android. If you do not own a smartphone you can, of course, access all the content on their website, too. The best thing about it is that they don t only stream live on 4 different channels but they also have a big archive of old shows. So if you fall in love with a particular show (like I have with vetandets värld, a daily 25min science podcast) you can easily get a lot of input just by accessing the old episodes of the last months or even years. Oh and it is also entirely free. Nice. Vocabulary At some point early on in my research for Swedish I read about AJATT (all Japanese all the time). It s a website by a guy that taught himself Japanese without taking classes or being in Japan. He describes the core of his method as the 10,000 sentences principle. Meaning that if you know and understand around 10,000 sentences or phrases in a language you will feel comfortable in whatever situation you might find yourself in. I was instantly hooked by this fresh approach to language learning. Unfortunately it took this guy 18 months to become fluent in Japanese, so that was not really the fast performance I was looking for. But I would soon learn that this approach, combined with a smart flashcard app and a lot of visual and verbal input would enable me to beat his time quite significantly. 1 The idea itself was my starting point, though. I think that knowing a lot of correct sentences and phrases and intuitively understanding their meaning and when to use them is a very natural description of language proficiency. In my mothertongue I don t think about grammar, word order, vocabulary and so on. I would rather describe a typical conversation as: recognizing sentences and phrases intuitively without any effort and then replying in the same way. I certainly don t think about language when I m talking in German. The sentences 1 Admittedly, Japanese is probably a lot harder to learn than Swedish (at least with my background), but then again I was actually 6x faster than he was. VOCABULARY 13 are rather jumping into my mind, just because I have heard, seen and used them hundreds of times before. Of course, that is a skill that has been shaped over many years throughout my childhood. But there are several important factors, as to why we can cut that process short, that become clear when you compare the capabilities of babies and adults. Babies Learn unconsciously and in small portions that are not necessarily high value Do not understand the concept of language Have to understand the world around them at the same time as learning how to communicate, without having a clear focus Have to learn to use their senses and have no skill set for maximized input Adults Are conscious of the learning process and their goals and use high-value input at any given time of the training Are aware of the concept and can relate to new languages based on their mothertongue Have grown brains and a single target: learning the language as fast and efficiently as possible Can consume visual and auditory input without any problems and possess a great skill for maximizing input: the ability to read You might have heard people say that you will never again learn a language as easily as when you were a child. That certainly holds true if you only look at how our brain matures and how it will not make new connections as fast anymore when growing older. But for the reasons given in the above table I firmly believe that adults actually have an enormous advantage over children when it comes to language learning and no one, however old, should be afraid to take on this endeavour. From French and Spanish classes I was used to long vocabulary lists for every chapter that you were supposed to somehow feed to your brain. Even if there was some amazing method to actually memorize these lists of highly unconnected words, I would still dislike the approach. Ultimately we communicate in sentences, not words. Memorizing a lot of words and then not knowing how to put them together to a useful and correct sentence is probably the single biggest waste of time when learning a language. You are not going to do that. I have prepared 10,000 sentences for you as flashcards that you are going to use in a space
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