It has been a while since I updated this blog. I have been busy writing my thesis and working on a PhD proposal on Germanic historical linguistics and phonetics. I am hoping to start a PhD on the development of aspiration languages. When the proposal is finished and has been handed in, I will write a blog post on aspiration languages.
At the moment, my language plans for 2015 (other than finding a PhD position) concern Norwegian only. I have been learning this language for three years now and my aim for 2014 was to reach a somewhat high level of fluency. Even though, I have not had the time do do a proficiency test yet, I know I have come quite far, although my passive skills surpass my active skills by a long shot. Several weeks ago, I went to a Norwegian Christmas Market in Rotterdam organised by the Norwegian Sjømannskirken. I made a few attempts at conversation, but I found it hard to talk fluently and sound spontaneous under pressure. I noticed most improvement while reading; to be honest, I surprised myself. Last year, I struggled through Harry Potter og Fangen fra Azkaban. I read all chapters twice: first in combination with the English version and then without it. Whenever I tried to read a chapter without aid, I found it hard to understand more than sixty or seventy percent of a sentence. Last week, I started on Harry Potter og Føniksordenen. I decided to try and read a few lines without looking at the English translation in order to see how much I would be able to understand. I was not expecting much, since I remembered how hard I had found the English version compared to the first four books when I read that one for the first time (2002/2003). However, I found that I could easily understand almost everything on the first try. Since then, I have read two chapters of Harry Potter og Føniksordenen (ca. fifty pages) without consulting the English translation or a dictionary. I estimate the number of words I understood at about ninety-five percent. I have no idea what CEFR level this represents, but I think it is fair to say that my Norwegian has improved a lot. Currently, my plan is to continue reading Harry Potter og Føniksordenen and see how far it will take me.
I will also get the chance to practice my active skills this year. I will be leaving for Tromsø in little more than a week, where I will present my thesis research at the Norwegian Graduate Student conference in Linguistics and Philology. Of course, the presentation will be given in English, but I am sure I will meet lots of people from Norway. I will be staying in Tromsø for four days, so there will be plenty of time to practice (and a lot of sightseeing, of course)! I will write an elaborate post on my linguistic and cultural experiences above the arctic circle when I get back.
That is all for now. No concrete plans with respect to target proficiency, sub challenges (besides reading) and other languages yet. I will have more time to consider these after graduation (probably at the end if this month or in february).