A changed attitude towards language learning

Today, I realised that I had not updated the ‘Norwegian language challenge’ page in months. This mainly concerned how much Norwegian I have read: twelve chapters of the fifth Harry Potter book since I had last updated the page. I strongly suspect the reason is that I no longer view reading the book in Norwegian as a challenge. This may sound negative, but I actually think it’s a good thing. It means I find it much easier to understand the language than I used to. I can understand almost everything now. Sometimes I encounter a word I don’t know or a grammatical construction I am not familiar with, but those moments have become very rare. I have come quite far since I have started learning Norwegian – at first I had a lot of trouble reading more than a few sentences at a time, as I had to look up a lot of words and analyse sentences carefully to understand their structure. True, I have spent a lot of time on the language. Nevertheless, I am secretly a bit proud.

This brings me to another observation, which is that my attitude towards language learning has changed since I started this blog. I used to admire polyglots for knowing a lot of languages to a decent level and I wanted to achieve the same thing: to learn as many languages as possible. Slowly, I realised that that is not what language learning should be about. Spending a lot of time on Norwegian has taught me that it is much more fun to have high proficiency in a few languages than some proficiency in many. While learning Norwegian, I have learned a lot about Norway and its culture and even about sociolinguistics. I haven’t learned nearly as much about France, since I only learned the language for a while. I find that all the extra information makes languages even more fascinating and I would not gain that by learning to use many languages at a low or intermediate level. In other words, I will continue learning Norwegian as long as I find it interesting. There is no need to hurry – I do want to learn a lot of other languages, of course, but I want to reach a high level of proficiency in those as well and learn about the countries in which they are spoken. No need to hurry. I have some plans concerning more French and starting on another language, though. I will reveal more when I have finished reading Harry Potter og og Føniksordenen, though.

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