I hope you all liked this year’s April Fool’s joke of my sales pitch for human beings, on the dedicated site languageninja.com, as the best “system” for language learning (turning my HB 2.0 post into an actual cheesy Internet sales page, with highlighter pen and arrow buttons and all!) [Previous April Fool's included my Confession that I was faking speaking all my languages 2 years ago, and appropriately last year, a video where I actually did fake speaking another language (with a particularly hideous new site design to add to the cheesiness)]
I’ll be leaving the Language Ninja site there permanently, so if anyone ever asks you what the best “product” they should invest in for language learning, with some silly consumerist focus in mind of throwing money at the problem, please send them to that page ;). I hope my sales pitch for HB 2.0 / language ninjas was convincing!!
Next mini-mission: Norwegian!!
Anyway, with a pretty successful Polish mini-mission behind me, tomorrow I am flying to Oslo!
Of course I plan to be a respectful tourist and be fully capable of ordering food, asking directions, being polite, and giving basic info about myself, all in Norwegian.
However, since I am not under any pressure to do something else (my trip to Warsaw was specifically to speak at TEDx, and preparing for that talk took time out of the 5 hours I had planned for polish, knocking it down to only 2! The talk went well, and you can see a cool visual representation of what I was saying in the image above that was drawn while I was saying it!) I think I will actually manage to do five full hours of preparation this time!
This is great because Norwegian is a Germanic language, which gives me a huge head start before I even get to work. There are things that would be familiar to us English speakers, and then my German will definitely help too!
When searching for how to get from the airport to where I’m staying, I noticed that the airport on Google Maps is called lufthavn, which would be very easy for me to guess the meaning of if I heard it in a conversation, because it’s Flughafen in German and Luft in German means air.
A quick flick through the dictionary at the back of my phrasebook (which you can see in the photo above, once again, I didn’t overanalyse things and just bought the first interesting phrasebook I saw, which in this case is written in German) shows me a bunch of words I recognize already! Like when I took advantage of Dutch and German similarities, I think I might be able to have a slightly more complex chat at the end of this super-intensive project!
Of course, a video upload next week will reveal all
End of the world!
The reason I’m going to Norway is to attend Chris Guillebeau’s “End of the world” party – I love that event name; he has managed to visit every single country in the entire world… except Norway!
He intentionally left it for last since it was way easier to visit than the others he had left, and so himself and a bunch of other good friends of mine will welcome him to his “end of the world” in style! I’m also going on a Fjord tour for a couple of days; not usually my style, but since I’ll be with friends it’s much easier to appreciate aesthetics (which I find way less interesting when I travel alone, as such experiences are better shared).
I will have five full days in Norway, seeing the countryside for 2 days, and then hanging out in Oslo the other days. Since everyone in our group is going to be fellow foreigners, I’m going to try to help them out by at least asking the initial questions in Norwegian for my entire trip as we are out and about.
Even if Norwegians speak English well, northern Europeans can indeed give you good language practice! Despite the prominence of English in some places, I still think it can be quite disrespectful to force the language on people out of the blue, and if I’m asking something beyond the limited amount I know in any language, the question I always ask before switching to English is “Do you speak English?”
So even if I wasn’t giving myself five entire hours to do so much more, I would at least recommend people learn that phrase before being a tourist somewhere English isn’t all that great for travellers!
But I’m hoping that even this minor attempt to do something more than most tourists would, will give me a slightly different perspective on my time in the country, and maybe even help Norwegians open up to me that little bit more.
I really hope these mini-missions are showing some of you that it’s NEVER too early to speak your language! If you put aside all the excuses, fears of embarrassment, perfectionism and other nonsense… how far do YOU think you could get in just five hours of intensive work?
I’ll share the experience with you next week! For now, I have to do the first hour or two of studying to get ready for my Skype session (as before, recorded so you can see how I do in my first ever attempt to use the language) If you have any tips, or if any of you are in Oslo and up to meet up, let me know!
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If you enjoyed this post, you will love my TEDx talk! You can get much better details of how I recommend learning a language if you watch it here.
This article was written by Benny Lewis
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