Learning Languages

I had studied French in high school, ahead of settling on German. I don’t recall the reasons why, but I ended up studying German to HSC level. For the final two years, our school couldn’t justify enough students for a class and so we studied via the Correspondence School.

My fellow student (and friend to this day) hated the experience (and so did I). To this day, I still remember our Correspondence School teacher’s name and her handwriting. Our papers were always marked (seemingly anonymously) in red. It was such a contrast to the wonderful face to face experience we had with our teacher, Barbara. She was funny and smart. We had also travelled to Germany with her.

Barbara Kearney, Louise Brooks, James O’Brien, Amanda King, heading off to Germany, as featured in Lismore’s newspaper, “The Nothern Star”.
Drinking beer in Germany.
Germany 1983
Belin Wall 1983

I’m not sure what happened and why, but I signed up for a French course on Duolingo a few years ago, and despite the constant lesson reminders, it fell by the wayside.

In the meantime, I’ve been studying Swedish with a wonderful teacher, Marianne, which I’ve blogged about on numerous occasions.

I enjoyed the classes very much, but I have struggled with the timing of the classes which have been in the evenings. Over the last few years, I’ve become much more of a “mornings person”.

I don’t know why, but a few weeks ago I decided to swap from French to Swedish on Duolingo. And I also decided to commit to a whole year of “professional support”, so a commitment of $130 has made me even more determined.

Since then, I’ve been doing a few quick lessons each day in Swedish.

At first, it was really frustrating, as I couldn’t move beyond the very basic Swedish I began to learn several years ago. 

A colleague who is on Twitter noted “I think you have to start from scratch. Which is how I got a bit bored with Norwegian. It’d be great if you could speed through the beginner levels.”

The moose is eating an apple. Yeah, not sure I’ll be using that phrase most days!

Since then I’ve been trying to go through the “beginner” levels by doing them as quickly as possible.  Going through the basics has been quite good actually. As I noted to a friend on Messenger “For months I couldn’t remember the difference between hon and han. But now I do”.  He and she. “These days, who knows what han or hon is. I wonder if Swedish has a pronoun for non-binary,” he asked. My reply was, “Yes, gender-neutral is hen”.

So far, it’s going okay. I think it’s been good to refresh on some of the earlier lessons, with repetition. Hopefully, I’ll keep up with daily classes. Hopefully at times where I can fit them in will fit in much better to the rigour of weekly classes at night.

7 Replies to “Learning Languages”

  1. Hello James, after your previous post a few days ago wherein you mentioned learning Swedish on Duolingo, I thought I would check it out. Had never heard of Duolingo before. I was pleased to see that Hebrew is also an option. I am always looking for an opportunity to practise, so everyday now I’m spending a few minutes. I’m doing it on the website. Do you use the app?
    Love the retro pics from Germany, btw. Must have been a great experience for you at such a young age….hehehe 😉

    1. Thanks for your comment re the pics. Yes, it was quite remarkable. I was 17. We had decided early in high school we would like to travel to Germany, and began fundraising with lamington drives etc.

      And yes, I use the app. Where I would have previously “wasted time” on Twitter etc, I now put it to more productive time by doing some Swedish lessons.

  2. Those were early days for such a trip. When I was at school just a few years ahead of you French students used to go to Noumea for a real-life French experience.

    Did Jacki Podd drop out of the group before you went?

  3. Germany 1983 must have been fascinating. I had an opportunity to dip into Anna Funder’s “Stasiland” recently, a book I’ve been meaning to read. She got me hooked.

    1. Yes it was. My memories of travelling by train through East Germany, and then travelling from West Berlin to East Berlin are with me still. The whole post-WW2 stuff fascinates me. Likewise, when I travelled to Europe in 2008, it was amazing to go to places like Estonia which had been under various rules. Imagine how confusing it must have been to go from socialism to nazism, and then back to socialism. All authoritarian rules, of course, but from different perspectives.

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