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Learning New Languages

Camping in Scandinavia

One of the great things about being multilingual is the opportunity to travel to other countries and feel comfortable in your surroundings, even when they are rustic. I have always wanted to visit Northern Europe, but was scared off by the high price tags, at least until someone told me about their camping policies, and how I could get the see the fjords, mountains, and northern lights, without going bankrupt.

It makes no difference where you choose to pitch your family tent in Scandinavia, all of the facilities and various campsites are fantastic in this camper friendly part of the world. In fact, if you are backpacking and can’t find one, just unpack your kit on a grassy side of the road and roll out your sleeping bag under the stars. Camping is allowed on all public property in most areas of Scandinavia, so long as you don’t leave any trace of your visit when you continue on your journey.

You should first get your Scandinavian camping card if you plan on traveling to many locations, and crossing borders from one Scandinavian nation to another. This allows you access to the best campsites in Northern Europe, including Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Finland and Denmark.

One of the best experiences, if you have the time, is to explore the coastal regions of Scandinavia. The beaches are dotted with fjords, and remnants of the Viking kings that used to rule this land. As you get further north, the days get shorter and the weather colder, but you increase your odds of spotting a whale off the shore, and the dancing Northern lights in the distance. Fishing has long sustained this area, and you are going to find quaint fishing towns up and down all coasts, where friendly residents will welcome your camping spirit. Just be sure to bring your best navigating device so you don’t get lost going in and out of all those fjords!

The interior of the Scandinavian countries is also magnificent to explore, with its abundance of long abandoned castles amongst the rolling hills that date back to medieval times. This part of the world is a paradox, with its violent past in a breathtaking tranquil setting. There is no shortage of interesting ancient towns and structures to explore, with places to set up for camping just minutes away.

To get the most of the experience make sure that you bring along a roomy family size tent, warm sleeping bag, flashlight, and a camping stove. Dining out in Scandinavia is notoriously expensive, but you can avoid that by buying groceries along your travels and preparing your own meals.

English speaking people in particular have a bad habit of assuming that no matter where in the world they are, their language will be recognized. This is not the case, especially when you are trading in big hotels and 5 star restaurants for a budget friendly camping experience. This is definitely one of those times when you will appreciate the hard work you put into learning how to speak another language.

If You Think Learning a Second, or Even Third Language is Just for Geeks – Think Again

For most of us, there are two types of true bi-linguals. There are those who were born in a foreign country, learned their native tongue and then relocated to Northern America where they had to learn English. The second group are those who took German in high school, and ran it all the way to the finish line. These were the nerdy kids, who annoyingly were able to get past Guten Tag and actually excel in their foreign language.

It has recently been brought to my attention that there is indeed another group of foreign language masters, who not only can speak fluently to people from other countries, they look good while doing. These are our favorite movie and TV stars, who behind the stage makeup are hiding a highly intellectual brain.

Jodie Foster – A graduate of Yale, Jodie Foster is not only fluent in French she can also speak conversationally in German and Italian, for no reason other than learning a new language seemed like something fun to do at the time.

Shakira – Shakira’s hips are not lying when she speaks to you in her native Spanish. She can prove it by telling you that in English, Portugese and Italian if weren’t able to understand the blond bombshell the first time she shook them.

Geena Davis – Before her stint on “Grey’s Anatomy” this talented actress was busy holding on tight to a recurve bow and basket of arrows. Geena and her recurve bow nearly made the 2000 US Olympic Archery Team, making you wonder when she found the time to learn Swedish.

Mariska Hargitay – Intelligence runs in the family. The SVU star is fluent in French, Hungarian, Italian, Spanish and English. Her mom, Goddess of yore Jayne Mansfield is rumored to have had an IQ of about 160.

Viggo Mortenson – It’s hard to hate a bad guy who can kill you in 8 different languages. Not only does Viggo have a bachelor’s degree in Spanish, he is fluent in English and Danish. He can carry on a conversation in Norwegian, French Italian, Catalan and Swedish as well. That much foreign language is making my tongue hurt.


Charo – This Latina actress is the polar opposite of her on screen persona. Not only can she play guitar, she can speak English, Spanish, French and Italian. And nothing at all like that broken stuff that helped shoot her to Love Boat fame.

Learning another language is not only for the class nerd. It is a skill that can enhance your life and open up new doors to the rest of the world.

Online Classes that Will Expand Your World

Education is no longer limited to the classroom. With the surge of online classes available you now have the ability to learn anything you want, from basic math skills, to applied physics, right from the comfort of your home desk. This is an amazing opportunity to expand your horizons and learn something you have always wanted, in your own time and at your own pace.

Recently I took a tour around the internet and a number of schools both public and private to see what types of classes could be found. Frankly, I was a bit awed by what I came across. Starting at the most basic level, people who have never been afforded an education can go back and take basic classes in any subject to get started.

I also came across and abundance of advanced classes, where you could get a college degree in any field imaginable. What makes so many of these different classes so appealing is that they are done at your own pace, so you can take all the time you need to learn and study before taking exams. Just look for accreditations and confirm to ensure that your degree will be valid.

You will even find study programs and classes online that can hook you up with individuals who are taking the same or similar courses. Here you can ask for advice, study with partners and work on practice exams together.

My favorite courses that I came across where geared towards hobbyists, and learning skills to enhance them. For example, with a microphone and headset, you could learn how to sing online. The classes to learn how to sing alone were sophisticated enough to make a career out of it, but they could also just be used to improve how you sound in the shower. Online singing classes looked like one of the most enjoyable that I came across.

Then I found others, like pottery, cooking and sewing. There were classes that focused on finding the meaning of life. Others that were geared towards self help, such as relationship building and self esteem advice. There is a wealth of information on the internet, and online schooling has turned into a viable way of accessing it.

Take your own tour and see if one of your interests is not available for study. This is a great mind to broaden your horizons in your own time, and continue in your education.

6 Tips to Help You Learn a New Language

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dictionaryIt is proven that children are able to pick up a new language quicker than adults. This happens for a number of reasons, but the main one is there unbiased opinion of how language should sound. Adults on the other hand have the habit of trying to make a new language sound more like their native one. If you want the benefit of learning a new language like a child, without the help of a fountain of youth, try using these 6 tips:

  1. Listen to conversations in the language you are trying to learn. Whether it be in person or on television, hearing people actually use the words in context will make it seem more natural to you. Once you have some experience under your belt, participate in those conversations as often as possible.
  2. Focus first on the most relevant 100 words. Think conversation here. It is not likely that you are going to need to know the word for every kitchen utensil right off of the bat, but being able to talk about the weather or ask where something is will be useful. Once you have the basics down, it will be easier to learn the more complex vocabulary terms.
  3. Use essential oils to help keep your mind focused and clear while studying. There are a number of essential oils that have been proven effective at enhancing learning such as frankincense. Find the one that you like the best and then use an ultrasonic diffusing device or even a necklace necklace to keep the scent strong while you tackle verb conjugates in your foreign language.
  4. Practice in your head. We all have a monologue continuously running in our minds, just turn yours into a foreign language. As you carry on with daily activities, think about what how it would be described. Have fake conversations with your co-workers or spouse. This is also a great tool to use before you know you are going to have to speak to someone out loud. When I first learned Spanish for example, I would go over 100 times how to ask how much something was before I dared venture to the market by myself.
  5. Carry a pocket dictionary. Not only are these good for a quick reference, they help with pronunciation. There are countless words that I could just not wrap my tongue around until I actually saw the way it was spelled.
  6. The most important phrase you can learn is “what is the word for” followed either by you holding up something or pointing to it. This is not only going to help expand your vocabulary, it will likely open up conversations for you in the language you are starting to learn.

Give yourself credit for every small accomplishment. It’s not easy for an adult to change the way they think and speak. Study hard and have fun with it, and you will soon be switching back and forth as if you were taught when you were just a kid.

Best Ways To Learn A New Language

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Learning a new language isn’t always easy. There is a lot to know, and starting out it can seem a little overwhelming. The sheer amount of information that you know you need to learn will look daunting, and it turns many people off from learning a new language. I hate to see this, because there are many benefits to learning a new language. To try and keep it from happening, I have come up with a short list of some of the best ways to get started learning a new language. My hope is that by using the methods listed below, your path to learning a new language will be a little easier, and therefore you’ll be more likely to stay on it.

  • Travel – One of the best ways to learn a new language is to simply immerse yourself in it. If you want to learn Spanish, travel to Spain or Mexico. Don’t worry about not being able to communicate with the people there. You’ll pick it up rather quickly, and most people there will know enough English to help you out. By surrounding yourself with people speaking the language you want to learn, you force yourself to pick it up quickly. This is one of the most expensive ways to learn a language, but it is probably the most fun as well.
  • Take a Class – If you don’t have the money or desire to travel, my next suggestions is to take a class. You can usually find one in your area, but if not, there are plenty of online classes you can take. Taking a class provides you with an instructor that knows the language, and a group of people who are also trying to learn the language. You can work with them when you get stuck, and help each other out. Another benefit is that by having a schedules class to attend, one that you are paying for, you are less likely to blow it off. This will help to keep yourself accountable and going back.

    "Duolingo french food skill tree" by Jamesmcmahon0 at English Wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons.

    Duolingo french food skill tree” by Jamesmcmahon0 at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons.

  • Get an App – One great thing about the age will live in is that information is so widely available. There are plenty of apps  you can download on your smartphone that will help you to learn a new language. One of the best, and one I’d highly recommend, is Duolingo. This app makes learning a new language fun by turning it into a little game. It tracks your progress, and gives you exercises you can complete so that you don’t forget the words you already learned. It is a fantastic app, and best of all it is completely free to download and use!
  • Flashcards – Last by not least, there is the old method of using flashcards or even post it notes. You can write down the English word on one side, and the translation of it in the back. Then when you have some free time, simply quiz yourself. You can also place notes around your home marking objects with their translated word. Then you will see the words throughout your day and it will help you to learn them. This isn’t the most exciting option, but it is essentially free and easy to do.

Why You Should Learn A New Language

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For most of us, the language we grow up learning is the only language we will ever really know. Some schools will make you take a couple of years in a language, but unless you keep it up, you are most likely going to forget most of it. This is a shame, because there are really a lot of benefits to learning a new language. If you are looking for something new to learn, I suggest starting with a new language. It may sound like a daunting task, but if you take a little bit at a time, before long you will have learned a new skill. Not convinced? Here are some reasons why you should start learning a new language.

  • Expand Your Mind – As we get older, it is important to keep our brains active and growing. So many of us stop learning once we leave school, and this has some negative consequences on our health. Many studies have shown that certain diseases can be avoided if you keep your mind sharp as you get older. Learning a new language is an excellent way to do this. It forces you to learn an entirely new vocabulary, and think about what you are saying as you are saying it. While you could do things like crossword puzzles or word searches to keep your brain busy, why not learn something new in the process?
  • Become More Cultural – The world has shifted in such a way that it is not easy to communicate with anyone in the world in an instant. By only knowing one language, you are limiting who you can interact with. Think of all the places in the world that you may be hesitant to visit because you don’t know the native language. Or think of all the people you can’t speak to near you because they grew up speaking another language. By learning to speak another language, you are opening the possibilities as to what you can do in the world. You can learn about other cultures, and move past simply knowing only your own.
  • Improve Your Resume – Speaking another language never hurts a resume. Potential employers want to see that you have a large skill set, and knowing another language certainly shows that. Even if your job does not require you to speak to people in another language, showing initiative and a desire to learn will impress the people above you when looking at a resume. The more languages you can add to the list, the more impressive you will look.
  • It’s Fun – Lastly, learning a new language is simply fun. You get to learn something new, communicate with people in a new way, and test your brain. There are so many ways that someone can learn a language now, some of which involve traveling to an exotic location. That doesn’t sound too bad, does it?

As you can see, there are plenty of reasons why you should start learning a new language. Look through our site for more resources to help get you started.