Ég er að læra íslensku

Okay, so I did this thing … Call me crazy, verrückt, folle, tosset, matta, whatever you like, but I have decided to swap Faroese for Icelandic and see how that goes.

For the past half year I have been studying Faroese on and off and I really love it! I love the melodious sound of it and the accent that reminds one of English, but is actually a completely different language. But … the thing I miss the most is being able to speak to someone. I have only 1 textbook with audio and that’s it. There was an italki teacher, but he decided to stop teaching shortly after I contacted him. There is almost no authentic input available, no YouTube, no Netflix, no nothing. And after all that home studying, I really feel that I need authentic input and a conversation partner in order to achieve good results and stay motivated. Conversation is the oxygen to my language studies.

So it’s decided. Icelandic it is. There are many YouTube videos, there is a lot of content online, so I am hoping that will help me with my studying. The aim is to have a good basic knowledge of the language and then pick up Faroese from there. Both languages are similar (however not interchangeable).

What is my plan? I have taken baby steps until the end of May, since I was crash coursing Luxembourgish. As of early June I will try to do the same for Icelandic, study the language intensively, schedule lots of italki lessons/conversation practice and continue until the end of summer. I hope to have finished the Colloquial and/or the Teach Yourself textbook by the end August/beginning of September (I know, crazy, right?).

Why don’t you join me on the journey to Icelandic fluency?

Week 41-46: February 15-March 28, 2021

I was planning to do a full month of immersion in March. I wanted to focus on 1 language in particular for a week – alternating languages every week. I hoped this would strengthen my knowledge and kindle my motivation, which is lacking, especially for Icelandic.

The reason for that is, I think, that I made huge progress in the beginning and now am stuck at the same level. I can’t seem to get passed that first stage and feel that I am more and more reluctant to study Icelandic. This means of course that I will never get passed the first stage – a vicious circle …

However … When I was making this plan, I had no work (or very little), but things changed in the meantime and I am fully booked for March, so I will have to postpone this intensive month.

I need a break from work to study (not only Icelandic, but my other languages as well).

What did I do this month?

Viltu læra íslensku: I watched a few of these videos in preparation of my italki class. If I compare my understanding to when I first started doing this, I can see that I have improved a lot. Consistency pays off in the end, although the progress on a daily basis is hard to see.

Italki: another italki class. We didn’t get to speak a lot of Icelandic, which is a pity, but it was partly because I didn’t feel like studying, but also because my teacher switched to English easily, which she shouldn’t have done, I think. She should have kept going in Icelandic … So that was a bit of a disappointment. Whenever I don’t feel like taking a class, afterwards I always feel pumped because I persevered and did speak a lot of whatever language I was taking a class in. So a bit bummed about these 45 minutes.

Netflix: Brot, another Icelandic series (2 episodes), that we are watching the coming weeks. I put on the Dutch subtitles because 1) my husband doesn’t speak Icelandic and 2) I don’t speak Icelandic (yet). You might think that it’s useless in this case, watching it to improve my knowledge of the language, but it is actually not. You always hear something you recognize, you listen to the melody of the language, hear how they swallow certain syllables …

Week 35-40: January 4-February 14, 2021

I find that I don’t spend enough time studied or reviewing Icelandic, so I keep going back to units I have already learned, to review them and make sure I haven’t forgotten anything. I really should do something about that if I want to make progress by summer.

For some reason I have lost the motivation to go full speed ahead with Icelandic. I do study a bit every now and then, but by far not enough to make good progress … Will have to work on that the coming weeks!

What did I do this month?

Beginner’s Icelandic: I reviewed (again) all I had studied in this course so far.

Teach Yourself Icelandic: I also reviewed all units I had studied.

Italki: in week 36 I had an Icelandic class with again a new teacher, Margret. Before the lesson, she checked with me if everything was OK and if the lesson was still scheduled. This was such a great lesson, we talked a lot and I really surprised myself (which did wonders for my motivation). We talked the entire 30 minutes – yes, me too, and in Icelandic! No idea I could do that.

In week 38 I had a lesson with Svala, which was OK. I had again a conversation of about 20 minutes with a lot of euhs and hms, but I managed to talk a bit about what I like to do and so on, so all in all a good class.

Another italki class in week 40, with Robert this time. Very pleasant again. We talked about the weather and he added weather-related vocabulary.

Íslenska fyrir alla: I have reviewed a few units in this textbook and then continued with lesson 9 of book 1. I hope to finish this book 1 by the end of the month – and not review the whole time, but trust myself and move on.

The month is almost over in week 37 of studying Icelandic and I am going through units 9-10 (still … I have a reputation to keep up!).

In week 38 I have tackled lesson 10 of book 1, so that first book will be officially done this month, like I planned! And again in week 39, I reviewed lessons 9-10, because I still feel I don’t totally master all the vocab and grammar. I had an italki class in week 40 with Robert, so I wanted to be prepared for that. This meant review-review-review.

Week 31-34: December 7, 2020-January 3, 2021

I know, I know, I said no more italki classes in December, but … I couldn’t contain myself and booked 4 (Spanish – because I love my teacher, Afrikaans and Luxembourgish – because I love the languages, and Icelandic – because, you know, Icelandic).

I am struggling however with my language learning burnout. I feel it is getting better, definitely since I picked up Yiddish again and I didn’t feel overwhelmed by it. In week 32 I have decided to review a bit of Icelandic (also because I have a lesson coming up in that week and I want to get the most out of that, else it would be a waste of money).

And in week 33, tata, the big #40h7dLC, this time with all my languages. I hope to review everything I have studied so far for Icelandic, in all my textbooks (big plans, I know …).

What did I do this month?

Colloquial Icelandic: because of my challenge in week 33, I decided to dive into Icelandic again and review everything I had learned so far. This means 2 chapters in this book. It was a bit of work, since I hadn’t reviewed any of it in weeks, but I managed in 1,5 hours.

Beginner’s Icelandic: this one as well, because of my challenge in week 33, I have decided to review everything I had studied in this book. Hard work as well, but very rewarding. I hadn’t forgotten nearly as much as I thought I would have, so that was motivating. In total 5 chapters reviewed (although number 5 should be studied a bit more in depth … but it was getting quite late that evening).

Villtu læra íslensku: it has been a long time, but in week 32, I watched this series again. I was pleasantly surprised. I still remember how I struggled in the beginning, they spoke too quickly, I hardly understood anything even with subtitles on and now, at least for the first videos, I understand so much more, even smaller words (like so, consequently, then – I can’t write them in Icelandic, I don’t have the keyboard). So that was fun and gave me a boost to dive into this lovely language again.

So a bit of motivation for you all, it may seem like you are not making any progress, but you ARE! Keep doing what you’re doing, keep going and check the material that you struggled with in the beginning, again after a while, you will be amazed about just how much you have improved!

Teach Yourself Icelandic: and this one as well, finally I reviewed the studied chapters – big surprise, most of it I could recall easily, I had SO not expected that! I went over 5 chapters.

Italki: my last class this year for Icelandic was with Robert in week 32. I enjoyed it a lot, he is a very good teacher and explains grammar in detail. The hour went by so quickly, many new things to process. I look forward to our next class in January.

He also sent me this link: www.islenzka.is, where you can practice all declensions, so I might just try that the coming weeks.

YouTube/social media: somehow I ended up on this channel, íslenskt barnaefni, children’s movies in Icelandic. I watched a few of them, randomly, sometimes clicking away after a few minutes. It was fun though and I understood more than I thought I would, so as a motivator, it was good. I might check them again later, just to get some listening practice.

Íslenska fyrir alla: in week 32 – and in preparation of my italki class – I reviewed some things randomly in lessons 7-9. More review in week 34, I went through the first 7 lessons of book 1 again, just to make sure I didn’t forget anything. 

Week 27-30: November 9-December 6, 2020

After my very successful little immersion in week 26, I fell into a black hole and did almost nothing. I have to say though, in my defence, that things are hectic at work, plus I am also renewing my professional website in 3 languages, so there is plenty to do besides learning languages. This went on for weeks and I am still at a language learning low. Luckily (well, not really) I have been in this place before and I know that it will pass …

What did I do this month?

Italki: in week 28 I had a class with a (for me) new Icelandic teacher, Robert. He has a nice introduction video and although he is not a native, I decided to book a lesson with him. He was very friendly, energetic … Plus he also shared a huge mega file with literally tens and tens of resources, books, videos, movies … Anything to make a grammar nerd’s heart skip a beat! I think I will book more lessons with him and see how that goes.

In week 30 I had a class with Thora again. Gave me so much energy! First of all she is a very good teacher and second of all, we spoke for about 45 minutes, mostly in Icelandic, me talking about what I did that day. I never expected to be able to this, so my energy levels are quite high at the moment! I prefer to have real life conversations, about real things, outside the scoop of the textbook that I am using. That makes the new vocabulary useful for me. I almost regret what I am going to say in the next paragraph, but …

I have decided to not take any classes in any of my languages in December. A quick look at my stats shows me that I have taken 150 classes this year, an average of round 3 per week. I desperately need a break! Ready for a fresh start in January though.

Netflix: I am watching season 2 of the Icelandic series Trapped, a bit too difficult to follow without subtitles, but a lot of fun trying to recognize words here and there. At the end of week 30, all finished.

YouTube/social media: Icelandic for foreigners has posted a few more videos in the past weeks and I have been watching those.

Íslenska fyrir alla: I reviewed more of the same units, up until 9 in book 1.

Week 26: November 2-8, 2020

Finally, in week 26, I met my friend, who bought 3 Icelandic books for me. I am so happy with them! I am in an Icelandic mood lately and thought, why not cash in on that and immerse myself this week. This was not a 40 hours 7 day challenge, I had too much work for that, just focus on Icelandic for the week (I have an italki class as well, so this was the perfect week).

What did I do this month?

Italki: in week 26 I had a much awaited italki lesson again with, might I say, the best Icelandic teacher ever! I had studied really hard to finish lesson 7-8 in book 1 of Íslenska fyrir alla and we had short conversation. Set phrases of course, such as ‘What did you do yesterday’ or ‘What are you going to do tomorrow’, and I stuck to the vocabulary of the unit, but nevertheless it was energizing to be able to hold a short conversation. I even managed to say a few things outside of the book vocabulary, so that was fun! Looking forward to studying more and speak to Thora again, somewhere in December.

Íslenska fyrir alla: on day 1 of week 26 I finally finished studying lesson 7 in book 1, that took ages … I have started lesson 8, all about fruit and veggies. I thought it would be tough, with a lot of vocabulary (which it was), but it went better than expected and I am almost done with this lesson on day 3 of week 26.

Final result of this week’s Icelandic immersion is great. I got to study a lot, finished lesson 9 in the course, had a short conversation and feel very motivated to continue! I recommend doing a little language sprint every now and then.

Week 22-25: October 5-November 1, 2020

Unfortunately I got really ill in week 22, so I had to pause all my language learning. I hope to pick up again in week 23. Overall though I feel that I have made progress. I know, I didn’t really study a lot, but I feel that I understand more, both audio and written Icelandic. As if everything has been simmering under the surface. Don’t know how that is possible, but it is, so I might as well enjoy it. If anything it gives me a boost to keep studying!

I had asked a friend who lived in Iceland for many years to bring me some books (he went over to visit in August). Because I have been quite ill the past few weeks, I haven’t had a chance to see him yet, so I still don’t have my books. I hope to be able to meet soon! It will be interesting to see how much I can already understand of written Icelandic (not much I suppose …). Updates definitely here later on!

What did I do this month?

Villtu læra íslensku: in week 23 I picked up Icelandic for real again! I listened to a lot of videos on their YouTube channel, with subtitles on (because sometimes they speak a bit too fast for me). I focussed on the declension of the nouns and the use of the different cases. I am almost through all the videos, so I will have to watch them from the beginning again. It will be great to see the progress I have made over the past weeks.

Italki: I was really ill again in the week I had booked an italki lesson (which was week 22), so I had to cancel. My next lesson isn’t until week 26. Thora asked me to study lessons 7 and 8 in book 1 of Íslenska fyrir alla, there is a lot of new vocabulary, basic things, so according to her, we should be able to have a short conversation by then. This puts a bit of pressure on me to go through these 2 lessons and to be ready for a conversation (I am so much looking forward to that!).

YouTube/social media: I really like the channel Icelandic for foreigners. Not a lot of videos yet, it’s a new channel, but the content is good and I watch a few of the videos every now and then.

I also watched Alarics videos again and randomly watched some Icelandic grammar videos (Max Naylor has 1, Learn Icelandic as well).

I discovered (again) a new channel: Svava K. Skúladóttir. She has some grammar videos and some vlogs, which is always nice to listen to spoken Icelandic.

Íslenska fyrir alla: it has been ages since I last had a look at this course (or Icelandic in general – don’t know why), so I decided it was time to pick it up again (maybe my upcoming italki lesson has something to do with that … we focus on this course). I didn’t really study or review as such, but in week 23 I went through units 5-10 of book 1. Just looking at things, passively studying as I call it, not actively memorising stuff, but just focussing on the grammar, reading the sentence patterns a few times, looking up the occasional word on BIN or the Icelandic online dictionary or checking the pronunciation in Forvo (it was getting quite late at that point and I was too tired to really do anything, but I felt guilty for not having done all that much with Icelandic this week).

As always, before my Icelandic study session starts, I had a look at the declension tables of the definite article, the adjectives in combination with a definite article and the nouns (all singular). I find that reviewing them on a regular basis instead of simply memorising charts works better for me. The power of repetition!

I got a bit carried away and printed out all of book 2 already, because I am feeling euphoric and I hope to finish book 1 in a short while …

At the end of week 23, I did an in-depth study of lessons 5 and 6 and started on lesson 7. I hope to continue this the coming week and to be able to finish lesson 7 and quickly review everything before starting on lesson 8.

In week 24 I printed out all lessons (10 each) and all books (4 in total) of this course, but lost 2 days of studying because the copy center was closed … That was a bummer! But this week I continued reviewing a bit of lesson 6 (lots of new verbs introduced, and being the grammar nerd that I am, I looked up the – irregular – conjugation of all of them, fun, yes, but extra studying …). I made a start with lesson 7, I usually do that by looking up the gender of the words. A lot of work, but necessary. I focus a lot more now on the cases and on how the words are declined and I must say, singular in 4 cases is almost clear to me …

I am really enjoying it now and I can’t wait for the day to be over, so that I can stop working and dive into Icelandic again! At the end of week 24, I have done some thorough review and have studied almost all of lesson 7 in book 1. I also looked ahead to the other lessons in this first book and did a few exercises here and there. So all in all, I am very happy with the past few weeks, my Icelandic is back up to speed and ME LIKE!

At the end of week 25, I am still studying/reviewing lesson 7 in the first book. I really have to work on my fear of progressing – or rather fear of forgetting the things I have learned and therefore keep reviewing everything the whole time. Let’s make this my goal for November. 

Week 17-21: August 31-October 4, 2020

I was so mentally drained in week 17, because of Covid and lockdown. We came back from our holiday in France and on the last day there, our region turned red. This meant we had to go into self-isolation for 2 weeks … again. No work in the office for my husband, no school for the kids … Somehow this was harder than the lockdown we had before, because this one was totally unexpected.

But that’s life. Ups and downs. I feel just a tiny little bit guilty for not studying in week 17 (and week 18 and week 19 …), but hey, it’s not the end of the world. The rest of the month was better (couldn’t have been any worse than no studying at all, of course).

What did I do this month?

Colloquial Icelandic: still gathering dust …

Beginner’s Icelandic: in week 20 I finally picked up this course again and much to my surprise, I could remember almost everything. It even seems like, after all that time (I am so embarrassed, I think since mid August), all the stuff I have learned seems to be really stuck in my head. I did SO not expect that, but I am really glad. And again, I did not fail myself. I knew that it was just a matter of getting started again, and my love for language learning would come back. And so it did. The moment I started reviewing, I couldn’t stop anymore.

I reviewed lessons 1-4 this week.

Villtu læra íslensku: in week 21 I listened to a few of these videos. I think I have seen them all now, but I just listen once more and focus on the definite articles and the declension of nouns (something I have also studied this week, not in a course, but with separate declension tables I found on the internet). Listening goes a lot better than a few weeks ago, so I notice the progress I am making.

Teach Yourself Icelandic: on the same pile as Colloquial Icelandic.

Italki: due to some circumstances I couldn’t book a lesson this month. Lesson for November is booked though!

YouTube/social media: I listened to an explanation on the Icelandic subjunctive, not the declension, but the use. Thank God it is very much like the subjunctive or conjunctive in other (Romance) languages and he also said that the declension is a lot more regular and easy than the present tense. I’ll take his word for that.

Íslenska fyrir alla: after I found my drive to study Icelandic again last week, I decided to review this course in week 21. I had gotten quite far and next week, I have an italki class and I would like to get the most of that. So there we go! I also added the declension of articles and adjectives and nouns to this course and that’s what I started with. A bit complicated, I think, to try and figure out on your own how to use these 2 tables together. I will have to check with my teacher how to form the genitive with definite article. But thank God there is always language twitter and some fellow Icelandic learners to help me with my questions.

What I do now before each study session (be it this course or another) is review the declension tables for singular definite articles and declension of nouns with definite articles. Whenever I listen to something or read a lesson in my text book, I also focus on those 2 declensions. I feel that this really improves my understanding of this rather complicated grammar point (and I have only just started).

Week 11-16: July 20-August 30, 2020

I didn’t do much in week 11, because of my shoulder operation. It went very well though, much better than expected, but still, it takes a bit of time to get the anaesthetic out of your system. All in all, week 11 was slow, but in week 12 and onwards I could do quite a lot, mostly reviewing though, but this time in yet another textbook. Somehow I find that this works for Icelandic. I get a lot of new vocabulary, which is a plus, and the same grammar is explained in different ways. I am not progressing as fast as I was at the beginning anymore, but that is OK. I am enjoying the process instead of focussing on the end result.

I decided that I deserved a little gift after my operation and asked a friend who has lived in Iceland for many years (but moved to Belgium 2 years ago) and is going back this summer, to bring me 2 books: a chicklit story (there seem to be only 3 in Icelandic, the genre is not really popular apparently – I like it because the language they use, is very colloquial and not too difficult) and a book with Icelandic folk tales. He will only be back by the end of August, so that’ll be biting nails for a while …

In week 14 I had a lot of personal things going on, appointments … So my language learning (in all languages) was put on the back burner that week.

In week 16 we are taking a break and we’re off to France for a few days. I will pack some language books, just in case I really don’t know what to do with my days!

What did I do this month?

Colloquial Icelandic: I don’t know why I keep adding this book, I never open it … I will have a look at all the materials for Icelandic I have in September and decide how to proceed.

Beginner’s Icelandic: in week 11, I felt the urge to pick up Icelandic again. It has been way too long, there was the Spanish immersion week that I did and in week 11, on Monday, I had a shoulder operation and I didn’t really feel like doing a lot in those first few days. But towards the end of the week it started itching again and I picked up Beginner’s Icelandic. I didn’t feel like taking any of the regular books that I study with, because I would only be reviewing things again and this time I wanted to do some other and new stuff (mainly vocabulary). I managed to ‘study’ 4 units, not all vocab though, but I could go over all the grammar (which is still very basic at this point in the textbook).

I know I am jumping from one course to another here, but I look at it like this: I add vocabulary with every unit that I study in whatever book it is. The grammar clicks and I just love everything about Icelandic, so I’ll just continue.

I kicked off week 12 with a review (of course, this is me, how can I not be reviewing) of the first 3 units of this course. Towards the end of the week, I reviewed unit 4, with a focus on memorising the vocabulary this time, and studied unit 5. Next week I plan to review all of this and also have a look at my other materials. Not focussing on reviewing though, just a quick look and then continue with the next chapters (but knowing me … it might end of being a review anyway – WHY?).

In week 13, I forgot all about my plans of reviewing and studying this course. Reason? Overload of work, which is good of course, in these strange times, so I won’t complain. But I was looking forward to doing some more language studying, so I felt a bit bummed.

Villtu læra íslensku: I really like this YouTube course and I watched, I think, 5 ‘classes’ in week 12 (all on the same evening – ha, once I start, there’s no stopping me). The video starts with a situation (such as, someone looking for a house), there are conversations with subtitles in Icelandic, followed by a class with foreign students learning the languages. In this class they continue talking about the same theme (e.g. the house, with relevant vocabulary). A bit as if you were taking an Icelandic class, so to speak. I like these videos so much that I continued watching more episodes that weekend (talking about immersion, this is a good one, I even dreamed in Icelandic after an evening of binge watching them).

Teach Yourself Icelandic: see ‘Colloquial Icelandic’ ☹

Italki: in week 13 I finally had another Icelandic italki class, with Thora. An hour, a bit daunting, because I had an extremely busy week and I couldn’t really study a lot, but … the hour flew by. Thora is such a good teacher, she lets me ask all my nerdy questions and has an answer to all of them. What a change, compared to my previous teachers.

I had another lesson planned at the end of August, but she’s not available, so we changed that to week 14, which was a bit too close to my lesson of last week. I prefer to have at least 2 weeks in between.

So we kicked off week 14 with an hour of Icelandic. Although it was very close to my previous lesson, I did enjoy it. We went through a few lessons in Islenska fyrir alla together and she gave me tons of explanations on why and how this or that is said in Icelandic. She also made me read, which is a good thing. My pronunciation is really good (*so proud of that*). My next lesson with Thora isn’t until early October, so I will have plenty of time to study. She told me that after lesson 7 (which is my next lesson in this course) we will be able to have a short general conversation together, so I am looking forward to that very much.

I might try another italki teacher in September, as a little reminder to myself to keep studying.

YouTube/social media: in week 12 I watched a few videos (in English though) with explanations of the Icelandic grammar (Icelandic for foreigners it is called, I think). I find this a very good method to do some studying even though you don’t feel like picking up a textbook and get serious.

Did the same thing in week 13. Icelandic for foreigners is a relatively new channel with not a lot of videos yet, but he explains well and they are nice to watch.

In week 14 I read a few post in a Facebook group for Icelandic learners. It was nice to see that I could understand many things here and there and sort of get the gist of what the post was about. Same thing with twitter.

Íslenska fyrir alla: my italki teacher and I went through unit 3 of book 1 together, which was a bit of review for me, but I didn’t mind. In our next class together, we studied units 5 and 6 together, which was interesting, because unit 6 was the last one I did on my own …

Week 8-10: June 29-July 19, 2020

In week 8 I finished the translation assignment, so that meant I had more time to dedicate to language learning. My plan was to review everything I had learned so far, to get me up to speed again. This means: Íslenska fyrir alla 4 units in book 1, Teach Yourself Icelandic 5 lessons, Colloquial Icelandic review the grammar and Assimil review the grammar as well. 

At the start of week 8, I was confident I would make good progress this summer, I felt really energetic and couldn’t wait to get started again. I hope this mood won’t change in the course of the coming weeks …

However I have decided to change things up a bit. I used to study both Luxembourgish and Icelandic every day, but that consumed so much energy and at the end I was focussing more on getting all my studying in both languages done than on studying 1 of them thoroughly. So now, change of plans, I will alternate: day 1 Luxembourgish, day 2 Icelandic and so on. Let’s see how that goes this summer. I hope that this way I can focus solely on the language of the day and make progress.

In week 10, I am immersing myself in Spanish, this language is my sole focus this week, so no update for Icelandic.

What did I do this month?

Teach Yourself Icelandic: now that I have decided to alternate days with Luxembourgish, I can’t do as much anymore as I did, definitely not if I want to thoroughly go through everything, which is my summer plan for Icelandic. So no TY this week, but definitely next week!

Week 9: at the end of this week I decided to use the coming days to go over everything I have done so far. I have a few calmer weeks coming up, perfect timing! I reviewed lessons 1 to 5. I re-study the vocabulary, read the dialogues out loud and go over the (concise) grammar explanations.

Week 10: immersion in Spanish, so no study.

Assimil: not my focus this month.

Italki: I kicked off week 8 with a half hour italki class. Good to go over a few things again, to get me in the right mood to continue studying on my own. In 2 weeks I have another class, we agreed on finishing chapter 4 in book 1 of Íslenska fyrir alla.

Week 9: on Friday, another italki class, but I wasn’t really satisfied. I had a few questions but the tutor was not able to answer them. He was constantly looking for explanations online. Although he warned me the first time that he does not have a linguistic background, I had expected him to be able to explain at least a few basic things. On the other hand, I like to go into depth, I know that, I like to find out exactly why something is said the way it is said (such as: why does the possessive pronoun get an a in some cases, I found out afterwards that it also changes according to cases, but I am not sure, I had to deduce it myself). So … looking for another tutor once again. On the 5th of August (week 13) I have a class coming up with Thora, but until then, no more italki.

Week 10: immersion in Spanish, so no study.

Íslenska fyrir alla: I was looking forward so much to start studying Icelandic again for real after a month … It took me some time to review 3 chapters in this book, but for some reason I now seem to get the declensions. I see what word is declined where and how and why. Before June, this was all a mess in my head and now I can see clearly … Good way to start!

Later that week (8) I reviewed also lesson 4 and 5 in book 1, the numbers, months, seasons … One of my plans for this week is done!

Week 9: I reviewed lessons 4-5 in book 1 and I went over lesson 6 with my italki tutor. Review of this (telling time) will be for next week.

Week 10: immersion in Spanish, so no study.

Week 4-7: June 1-28, 2020

All in all, the first week of June was a slow week as far as language learning is concerned. As I said in my previous post, I have a huge translation project that started this month and I had to finish a book translation before mid June and as always, when the end of a long-term project is near, I feel exhausted and the work takes over my whole mind. There is little time for anything else, let alone learning a new language intensively.

Therefore I have decided not to write a weekly update, but a monthly one.

What did I do this month?

Colloquial Icelandic: my italki teacher recommended this book because of the grammar. He thinks everything is very well explained, so in the coming weeks I might pick it up again, to focus on the grammar solely.

It’s now week 6 and the book is still there, unopened, staring at me …

Week 7, no changes.

Teach Yourself Icelandic: my energy was very low the first week of June so I didn’t force myself to study, that would be counterproductive, I know. What I have realised after a few days of not studying is that somehow everything I have learned, seemed to have ‘ripened’. I thought I would have forgotten everything, but that was not the case. The first weekend of June I have revised everything I had done so far in this text book.

In week 5 I revised everything again. I feel that I need to memorise the words more or better. When I have my book at hand, I can recite them all, but when I see them in another context, I recognize them but can’t always recall the meaning. So again unit 1-5. Towards the end of the week I focused on the second part of the vocab in unit 5 and I feel that passively I know the sentence structures. Now I need to focus on also begin able to use them actively. Towards the end of week 5, I also started the next unit in this book and reviewed everything passively, I mean reading intensively but not focussing on memorising the vocabulary, just recognising it.

In week 6 and week 7 I didn’t make a lot of progress, but I did revise everything (again). For some reason I don’t trust myself and I keep revising the vocabulary, because I am afraid I will forget it. I do have to work on that.

Assimil: I got a copy of this book from someone and decided to go through it in week 5, mainly because of the grammar. I find that in my 2 main resources, the grammar is not explained in detail. In íslenska fyrir alla, there is even no real grammar at all, there is a lot of declension going on but it is not explained anywhere and I feel that I need that – being a grammar nerd, but also in order to understand the structure of the sentence and the ‘why’ of some words. For example: it took me ages to find out that the word for school is skóli (masculine) and not skóla (feminine and for some reason it feels like a feminine word ending in a) and that the a is actually an accusative. So hopefully I can find a bit more in depth explanations here.

Overall week 6 was a slow week, I didn’t really do any Icelandic studying (in any of my books), just a bit of reviewing here and there.

I feel like Icelandic is slowly turning into a disaster …I HAVE to get serious again! Another week and a half and the huge translation project is finished, so I hope I can start with renewed energy after that.

Italki: the first week of June (week 4 of my Icelandic studies) I had a lesson with Magnus and it went well, way better than with the previous teacher I had. I could ask my questions, got a thorough reply. We spoke a bit in Icelandic as well. The good thing is that he teaches with Íslenska fyrir alla, the book I am using too. It went so well that I booked another lesson with him at the end of the month. Mid June I have a class with Thora, who is supposed to be really good … I can’t wait.

In week 5 of my Icelandic studies, I did not have a class planned. I haven’t decided yet whether or not to book a weekly lesson. It would help me a lot, I know that, but I haven’t made up my mind yet.

I was looking forward a lot to my Icelandic italki class in week 6. On Wednesday I had a lesson planned with Thora. An hour, which was a bit daunting, since I didn’t have loads of time to study. But everyone is right, she is a great teacher! We went through the basics, since I had already studied a bit. She explained everything really well and I feel that I will be able to make progress on my own. I hope to be able to plan another session with her in July.

In week 7 of my Icelandic studies, I did not have a class planned.

Íslenska fyrir alla: In week 4 I have gone through unit 5 and at the end of the week I have revised all 5 units. In week 5 nothing …

In week 6 I briefly went through it in preparation of my italki class with Thora. I still like this course, but it annoys me a bit that there is no real explanation. I am not a big fan of just memorising phrases like a parrot. I want to understand the words, the cases, the reason why this or that is said so and so. I hope to be able to go through the course with my italki teachers.

And week 7? *embarrassed* What is week 7?

Week 3: May 25-31, 2020

Það er skemmtilegt að læra íslensku!

Twitter is such a good place to meet people who study Icelandic, to have a nice chat and to ask questions if something is unclear. Especially with a complicated language such as Icelandic, that is often the case. Earlier this week, I had a specific question about the weak declension of an adjective that should apparently have been strong (without a definite article after the noun the adjective goes with), posted that and got a very good and clear explanation of why that had to be weak and not strong (if you are interested: because there was a genitive also, that acted as a definite article, making the noun defined, although without article and thus making the adjective decline weakly … if that makes any sense!).

The coming 5 weeks however I have a huge project to translate, which means that I will have very little time to study any languages. My main focus will be on reviewing what I have learned so far, so that I don’t forget anything and don’t have to start from scratch again in July.

What did I do this week?

Colloquial Icelandic: let’s just not talk about this one anymore.

Teach Yourself Icelandic: I focussed on getting the vocabulary of unit 4 into my head and yes! But apart from that, nothing much really with this book.

Italki: next lesson is only the coming week! New teacher, hopefully the right one this time!

Íslenska fyrir alla: OK, so … on Monday, I decided it was time to get serious and unravel the secrets of the declension of adjectives and nouns. I found good tables on the internet with both the strong and the weak declension of adjectives and of nouns, so I printed those pages out and put them in my folder. I have decided to go through those before every study session. I already memorised the weak declension of adjectives (before nouns with definite article), because they are the easiest.

I reviewed (again) the first 4 units of book 1, but this time with a focus on the declension. For every declined word I saw, I referred back to my tables and thus more of less memorised the nominative and accusative of both strong and weak nouns and adjectives (a lot of going back and forth). I know that tomorrow I will have to start from zero again, but at least this is not such a daunting task anymore and I am starting to see the patterns (thanks to German I guess). As my Italian teacher always says: L’italiano (or in this case l’islandese) è una balena che si mangia un pezzo alla volta! (meaning: take it easy, one step at a time)

Later that week I started studying lesson 5, but still with a focus on the declension. That has been the theme of the week!

I still love this series, but … it is very hard sometimes that there is no explanation at all in English. Makes it really difficult to find out how the cases work, what gender certain nouns are and why they have the endings they have. I was a bit down-hearted really at the end of this week, because I focussed on this book almost the entire week and I didn’t seem to make any progress … Let’s see how next week goes, with an italki class and probably a bit more of TY.

How much time did I spend?

Monday: 1 hour 45 minutes drops, Íslenska fyrir alla

Tuesday: 45 minutes Íslenska fyrir alla

Wednesday: 45 minutes drops, Íslenska fyrir alla

Thursday: 30 minutes drops, TY

Friday: –

Saturday: 40 minutes drops, Íslenska fyrir alla

Sunday: 2 hours drops, Íslenska fyrir alla

Week 2: May 18-24, 2020

I have a problem … There seems to be a strange pattern with learning Icelandic. Everyone tells me how difficult it is to learn the language, so I keep reviewing the same units over and over for fear of forgetting things or not really thoroughly understanding or memorizing them. I feel somewhat ‘afraid’ of continuing my learning and saying to myself: OK you know this unit, on to the next one. I know that I know the sentence patterns and the vocabulary, but somehow I cannot start a new unit.

That’s why it was such a good thing to watch Netflix this week and see that I actually CAN pick out words and I DID learn something. I do need to get over this fear though (or whatever it is that is holding me back) if I want to start making some real progress.

What did I do this week?

Colloquial Icelandic: I didn’t touch it at all this week, yay!

Teach Yourself Icelandic: I continue with reviewing the lessons I have learned and adding 1 more unit. I am going through unit 4 right now and this will take some time. I am tackling the declension of adjectives and nouns, which sounds easy (at least that’s what I thought), but it is a bit tougher though … There is also a lot of vocabulary about describing a person, so I think I will need a few days to finish this unit (I don’t want to skip any of these words, they are all useful). I did however go through the grammar of unit 5 already, which is a really short unit. As soon as I have memorized the vocabulary of unit 4, I will continue.

I have found more Icelandic textbooks on my ipad (didn’t know I had all those – one of which is Icelandic for beginners, also a book I recommend if you are starting to study the language) and I am leafing through them and picking out the grammar. Right now I am looking for declension of adjectives and I went over the 5 types of verb conjugations. I feel that everything is quite concise in this Teach Yourself book, so combining several books and focussing on the grammar chapters might help me understand more, better, easier … (I am a grammar addict, thought I might as well admit). Whenever I decide to study vocabulary in one of those extra books, I mark the words with highlighters, so that afterwards I can see what I have done (when reviewing stuff).

Drops: I am trying to build a routine with this: 5 minutes at breakfast, 5 minutes after lunch and 5 minutes before bed. So far I have done my minutes every day and was rewarded with extra seconds/minutes. I am at 170 words right now.

Italki: I had another lesson with my italki tutor and I was not really happy. There was no teaching done, just answers to a few questions I had sent her before via skype. I did ask about certain cases, such as why to use the dative in a certain phrase, but there was not really an explanation. So I have decided to try two other tutors in the coming weeks. My next lesson (with Magnus) isn’t until the 6th of June. Let’s see how that goes.

Netflix: I had no idea there were any series in Icelandic available, but there are! So I decided to go for Case and to my astonishment, I understood a few words and phrases here and there, me like!

I admit, I have been binge watching (but hey, what can I say, the weather was really bad today …).

Íslenska fyrir alla: I reviewed the first 3 lessons of unit 1 (again, I can’t seem to go any further).

Finally, yes, finally, on Sunday, I moved on and started the next unit of book 1: all about numbers. In the sample sentences, I clearly noted the strong and weak declension of adjectives and nouns, so I decided to dive into that. I found some good information with tables on the internet, printed those out and decided to try and memorise the first part (weak declension is easy peasy – but OMG the strong declension …).

How much time did I spend?

Monday: 1 hour 30 minutes drops, TY review lesson 1-3

Tuesday: 1 hour 45 minutes drops, TY

Wednesday: 1 hour 30 minutes drops, YouTube, Íslenska fyrir alla

Thursday: 1 hour 25 minutes drops, Netflix

Friday: 6 hour 15 minutes drops, italki, Íslenska fyrir alla, Netflix

Saturday: 2 hours 15 minutes drops, Icelandic for beginners, TY 1-5

Sunday: 2 hour 10 minutes, drops, Íslenska fyrir alla

Week 1: May 11-17, 2020

I know I said I was going to take baby steps with Icelandic for the rest of the month, but Twitter decided otherwise. I met some nice people who also study the language and I was bombarded with resources, so now I feel this urge to dive into those. That is what I love about language learning: tons of books and materials to work with, people with the same passion for the same (or another) language, some good conversations and being nerdy together … I missed that with Faroese, it felt very much like a solo trip to an unknown destination.

But … having so many resources is also a bit dangerous, because I tend to want to use them all and not really make progress in any of them. It happened to me before with other languages and I don’t want to see the same with Icelandic. 

Last week I said I was going to focus on my 2 textbooks, but this week I was not so sure anymore. I think I might focus on Íslenska fyrir alla in combination with Teach Yourself. For some reason I am not drawn to Colloquial, so I will leave that one for now (it is not orderly, I can’t seem to find my way around the chapters, no separate vocabulary or grammar in the first unit. I prefer to have clear blocks of grammar/vocabulary/dialogues …).

What did I do this week?

Colloquial Icelandic: nah … I tried to go through the units again, but my opinion is confirmed. I thought I would pick the grammar from this book and leave out the rest and I am not sure what to do. There is a lot of grammar and it is thoroughly explained, so I might just use this one for grammar only. Let’s try that next week.

Teach Yourself Icelandic: now that I have studied a few lessons with Íslenska fyrir alla, I decided to go through the first lesson of this book and I like it. Detailed explanations, short dialogues with audio, vocabulary, a bit of grammar. I listened to the audio a few times, repeated the dialogues out loud, memorised the verbs to be and to be called, your basic things really …

I reviewed unit 1 thoroughly and went through unit 2 as well, focussing on listening to the vocabulary, repeating the words and memorising them. 

Over the weekend, I reviewed units 1 and 2 and added unit 3. They are short, very clear, with boxes with vocabulary (and gender), a bit of grammar, some exercises. Just to make sure, I printed out all 10 units, so I can take notes while studying. So far, I was studying from my ipad, which was not very practical.

Drops: a fellow Icelandic learner on Twitter mentioned the app Drops, which builds vocabulary during 5 minutes every day. I decided to give it a go. I usually don’t really like language learning apps such as Memrise or Duolingo, but this one is fun, takes only 5 minutes and focusses on vocabulary building (no silly sentences like the ones you get in Duolingo). I have been using it for a few days now and really like it. You can fit 5 minutes in everywhere and the good thing is, after 5 hours, you get another 5 minutes. If I get up early enough, I can have 3 x 5 minutes! Let’s see how long that routine will last (I am not the best at keeping up app routines …).

Italki: on Tuesday I had my first Icelandic lesson with Bryndís. The day before, I had sent her some questions (that I had while studying with Íslenska fyrir alla), so that I would not forget to ask them during the lesson. The lesson was so energetic, I so much wanted to start studying straight away! We went over the 4 lessons I had studied, I read the conversations out loud and she corrected my pronunciation (this will be the most challenging of this Icelandic adventure, but all in all it was not that bad). We also discussed some vocabulary, what phrases to use when for example. We agreed on focussing on this course for now and go through it together. 

My next lesson isn’t until next Friday, so I have some time to focus on pronunciation and find out what I am struggling with, so that we can work on that. I used the first lessons of Íslenska fyrir alla as a preparation for my italki class.

YouTube: earlier this week, I was searching YouTube for grammar videos and came across Alaric Hall. He has some very interesting things to say and offers a free magic sheet for all declensions in modern Icelandic. I just had to download that! I have also found a channel (Sakura Sakura – but scroll down to find the Icelandic videos OR you can find them here http://tungumalatorg.is/viltu_laera_islensku/en) with 20-some conversations aimed at learners of Icelandic, I listen to them every now and then to get used to the sounds of the language and I repeat short phrases.

Another YouTube channel is Cool Icelandic Lessons, short videos of 1-2 minutes around a topic, such as the face, colours, fruit … I listened randomly to some videos and repeated the words out loud as pronunciation practice. This really helps if you do it on a daily basis. I sort of start to feel how to pronounce the random H they seem to put in everywhere and the double L’s or funny D’s. I plan to listen to certain topics, such as colours, and add the vocabulary to my textbook. I do this often, add extra vocabulary to the next lesson, so that when I start studying that lesson, I automatically learn the vocabulary.

Íslenska fyrir alla: http://tungumalatorg.is/ifa/ On this website you can download 4 books with around 10 units each (including audio), split up in 5-10 very practical lessons with conversations, vocabulary and grammar. Everything is in Icelandic though, so I used www.forvo.com for the pronunciation and Google Translate (I know …) for the translations. 

Nothing much to tell really, I memorised the short questions and answers, transcribed the words phonetically and went back and forth through the lessons of unit 1 of book 1, studying the vocabulary (nouns and verbs). This was quite a bit of work, especially at the end where vocabulary was given (especially with gender. Unit 2 was about spelling words, so I skipped that. I also studied unit 3, which has a lot of vocabulary (verbs, nouns).

I have my own method for memorising gender. I use a green (for male), a pink (for female) and an orange (for neuter) highlighter and highlight all the words in the conversations and vocabulary lists in the corresponding colour. Per page I also add 3 columns at the top, right for male, middle for female and left for neuter, where I add all the words of the corresponding page. That way I immediately see the colours, my brain links words to colours and to position at the top of the page.

I recently found a good online dictionary: http://digicoll.library.wisc.edu/IcelOnline/Search.TEId.html (thanks to a fellow Icelandic learner on Facebook).

How much time did I spend?

Monday: 1 hour 40 minutes YouTube, Íslenska fyrir alla
Tuesday: 2 hours italki, Íslenska fyrir alla, TY lesson 1
Wednesday: 1 hour 30 minutes YouTube repeating out loud, TY lesson 1-2
Thursday: 1 hour 45 minutes Íslenska fyrir alla (+ audio), drops
Friday: 50 minutes drops, Íslenska fyrir alla
Saturday: 2 hours 30 minutes drops, colloquial 1-2, TY 1-3
Sunday: 2 hours drops, YouTube, Íslenska fyrir alla

May 9-10, 2020

For the remaining weeks of May I am going to focus on the 2 textbooks that everyone knows: Colloquial Icelandic and Teach Yourself Icelandic (what else). I have a few more books here, but the Colloquial and the TY have free audio on the website and the app, so I picked those. No language learning apps, no websites for the moment (although I have a very good one, if you are interested, it is only in Icelandic and offers very practical, useful everyday conversations). Just me and my books with audio. For the correct pronunciation I will rely on forvo.com (if the audio is not clear).

What did I do this week?
Colloquial Icelandic: I was eager to get started now that I had made my decision (after much internal debate, because if feels sort of giving up on Faroese), so I went through the first chapter. I listened to the conversations a few times, wrote the ‘phonetic’ pronunciation of the words (where possible) and repeated the dialogues out loud.

So far the grammar is the same as in Faroese (e.g. definite articles at the end of the word, the articles themselves are the same) and also the vocabulary is very similar. This is a good start and at least all the efforts I put into Faroese have not been for nothing. I have good hopes that I will be able to pick up Faroese again through Icelandic, because I shall and I will speak Faroese some day. There is a lot of grammar though per unit, which will require more studying than a unit in Teach Yourself.

I have also listened to the intro chapters with the correct pronunciation of the different Icelandic letters. Here you can see the big difference between Icelandic and Faroese. Icelandic is pretty much phonetic, where Faroese is all but phonetic. As far as pronunciation is concerned, Icelandic will be the easier option. The audio can be downloaded from the website and is split up per exercise, very practical to listen and repeat 100 times.

Teach Yourself Icelandic: I have listened to the audio of the conversations a few times. I find that TY is more accessible than Colloquial (at least for Icelandic, for Bulgarian I like the Colloquial book). The grammar comes in bitesize bits, easy to digest. It is also very clear, compared to Colloquial. There is vocabulary and then some grammar notes. I feel more of a connection with this book and I am guessing this will be my go to option for studying.

All the audio though is in 1 file, with all conversations and exercises of the unit, which is a bit of a nuisance, because you cannot go back to the beginning of a conversation or an exercise. You have to sort of guess where it would begin. The good thing about TY is that they speak a bit slowlier than in the Colloquial audio, which is good if you want to transcribe exactly how the words are pronounced.

Italki + anki: I have booked a trial lesson with an italki teacher the coming week. She uses her own methods, so no books (I have learned from my Luxembourgish lessons that this is more than fine, I like to not always use the same books or methods and trying another way of learning is good for varation). We can focus on whatever I want, pronunciation, conversation, reading, extra vocabulary. For this first lesson, I want to focus on pronunciation I think, especially the H between/before consonants, which is quite challenging.

As far as anki is concerned, I am undecided. Should I enter the vocabulary into a new deck? I think I will see how it goes with the book and with the teacher and if it turns out that I really need to use flashcards, I might add them (and add the pronunciation via forvo.com).


YouTube: I found a good YouTube channel for beginners, called Icelandic for foreigners. I specifically liked the videos in which he explains how to pronounce the different vowels and consonants. I watched a few of those and I also watched a few grammar videos. A tad too difficult, but it was fun watching and it made me eager to learn more the coming week. They are very addictive though and a good start to repeat some words out loud and to get an overview of the language. Me like!

How much time did I spend?
Saturday: 1 hour 30 min TY and Colloquial, both chapters 1.
Sunday: 2 hours YouTube

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