Friday, 15 June 2012


Welcome to my blog.

I'll be using this to document my ongoing experience of learning Norwegian, primarily through reading books along with their translation. Like many people, I find most textbooks very boring and don't find they help create a positive association with learning a language which can be very useful in strengthening motivation to spend a lot of time learning.

I've found that there are many language learners online who take a more immersive approach, focused on being exposed to "Comprehensible Input". This can take the form of initially relatively simple examples of the target language which are made comprehensible, getting a lot of exposure to such content, and then progressing to more difficult content. In the process of doing this, you acquire a sense for the language subconsciously which gets strengthened the more you are exposed to the language.

From time to time you can leaf through textbooks and read explicit grammar instruction which becomes easier to understand and remember due to the amount of exposure you've already had with the language. It becomes easier to relate to and can help reinforce whatever instinctive sense for the language you have gained through exposure. At the beginning you can go through a "silent period" where you only start to speak after a certain amount of familiarity with the language has been gained. This somewhat mirrors what a baby goes through in learning their native language though the process can be dramatically sped up for adults.

For many people it seems this approach is more comfortable, enjoyable, and manageable than starting off with textbooks and then trying to move on to native media. There are also different input-based approaches you can try. On the language learning site "LingQ" you have access to and the ability to import texts in a variety of languages, and can use online dictionaries to look up each word in a text and then save these words in a personal database. Any new words in a text are highlighted in blue but once saved will appear as yellow and if a word you've saved crops up in a new text, you need only move your mouse over the word for the translation to pop up. After a while you can change the status of the word as your familiarity with it increases until it is "known". This approach is essentially "intensive reading" where you pick apart a text before moving to another one, starting off with relatively easy texts and preferably ones you find interesting. Slowly you move on to more and more difficult texts as your familiarity with the language and vocabulary increase.

There is also the Listening-Reading method, a.k.a. L-R, which I won't describe here but provide links at the bottom to descriptions of the technique. It has worked very well for some.

I'll be focusing on reading through novels in Norwegian with the English translation at hand and not spend too much time analyzing words or phrases but try to keep pressing on and bathe myself in the language. I'll be noting down some words and phrases for future reference but not all as I will no doubt keep coming across them and through continuous exposure will internalize them.

I'll write a post shortly detailing my current technique and hope it will be a useful thing for other people to try.

Here are some potential links of interest for anyone wondering about input-based learning.

Wiki article on the "Input Hypothesis": Input Hypothesis

LingQ Website: LingQ  (free access to available content though a subscription is required in order to save more than 100 terms or "LingQs".)

Learning With Texts: LWT (a great free program which provides the same functionality as LingQ offline but you have to import all the content yourself.)

The YouTube channel of Steve Kaufmann, a founder of LingQ who has produced a lot of videos about language learning focused on input: Steve Kaufmann's YouTube

Steve Kaufmann's blog: The Linguist

Brief description of the L-R method: L-R Method

A massive thread discussing the L-R method: L-R Thread


  1. You'll need a good text aligner I use Nopva text aligner and it realy seem to have had language lerning when designing the app You can align novel sized texts in less than an hour and export in many formats including epub,mobi(kindle) and pdf:

    1. Thanks a lot for that!

      After I have become fluent enough in Norwegian, I'll think I'll probably make use of that program for putting together parallel texts for other languages. Currently studying on a music course in Norway so I'm being heavily immersed in the language and kept quite busy. Having no Norwegian ebooks is also a problem!

      Anyway, thanks a lot for the info, will certainly use that in learning French.

  2. Hi! Nice idea to put a blog to track your learning progress. I am also into learning languages. I am currently studying to take the N1 level of Japanese and also studying basic French.

    Good luck!