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Icelandic habit. Posted by on Aug 18, 2016 in Uncategorized

Yesterday morning I heard a raven croak somewhere nearby, possibly on the neighbour’s roof. Today, for a while, it was sunny on one side of the house and rained on the other. August has definitely arrived and you know what it means – time to go back to school! 😀

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Back to school by Martin Abegglen at Flickr.

…at least for those that do go back to school, that is. Learning’s for everyone though, so why not use August as a boost for your language studies? No better time to come up with a weekly, or even daily, rhythm of learning Icelandic and best of all make a habit out of it. I can’t stress enough how the best and fastest way of learning Icelandic is to study a little every day, use it for something no matter how small. I do realize I’m privileged to live in a country that gives me no other options than using Icelandic (IOW Iceland), but language immersion can be done even outside of this sunny-rainy raven land with a helpful game called Habitica. I may have mentioned this one before but it’s such an excellent way of introducing new habits into your life that I’m just going to mention it again.

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What is Habitica? It’s a free online role playing game that happens in real life. You’ll come up with ideas that you want to turn into habits and list them under three different titles: Habits, Dailies and To-Dos. Then you go about your life as usual, except that this time completing a task or a habit will earn you points and game currency. You can use Habitica alone or team up with a few friends, in which case the game makes you battle monsters. Each time you complete things you’ve set in your list the monster takes damage, but if someone of the group ignores their list the whole team takes damage instead. It may not be not the most relaxing way of playing Habitica but nothing motivates as thoroughly as your friends responses if you’re slacking…

Besides that there’s another way of being social, joining guilds that are dedicated to your interests and things you want to make a habit out of. Just join in, accept guild challenges and possibly earn gems by winning one. In short, you get immediate positive feedback in form of game treats for doing things on your list and crossing them over. In fact, the picture above has a battle plan of a kind written on it, designed with language learning in mind.

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To-Dos

I’m going at the plan a bit backwards but there’s a reason for it so bear with me. 😀 To-Dos are large/big-ish projects that one completes once and is done. A To-Do could f.ex. be an important essay, a plan to visit a country (with details of how one saves money for it in the other sections of the Habitica list), getting a driver’s licence or something of the sort. My list above has writing a language learning blog to either help others learn or to document one’s own process as a To-Do, but that one could just as well be a Daily. Maybe with a time limit of one year you could have this one as a To-Do, or maybe simply starting the blog would give you the points – you decide!

Finding a new band is always great, but when learning Icelandic it’ll actually give you a shortcut to pronunciation and vocabulary just by listening to music. Icelandic movies are also a great source, and naturally so are books… and though reading a whole book might feel a bit daunting, Habitica will help you get there.

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Dailies

Like the name says, these are things you want to teach yourself to do every day. I’ve found that I sometimes even forget to cross mine off, even though I’ve done them already…

Visiting Icelandic news sites keeps you informed about what’s going on in Iceland, but will also teach you vocabulary and word order better than anything else. At first you can use the sites’ English side but I recommend actually trying to read an article a day in Icelandic.

Listening to songs is Hulda’s favourite, so now that you’ve found yourself a new band to listen to, just search the lyrics online and go! An easy Daily, takes only a few minutes of your time and is definitely fun. Reading one page of your book of choice may take some more time but the trick is to not stop at difficult words: just power through and understand as much as you can, and once you’re done with one page decide whether or not you want to translate the difficult parts, just read onward, or even quit reading for the day (the brain needs a break every now and then). Reading aloud can happen at the same time as that’s wonderful pronunciation practice.

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Habits

These are the things you want to make a habit out of, OR bad habits you want to ditch. See those plus and minus -marks? Some things on this list only give you plus points, some only give you minus points (the bad habits you want to be rid of). Then there are some that have both a plus and a minus, meaning that you get a plus when you do them and a minus when you don’t. Translate something can easily link to your Daily reading and eventually contributes to finishing that book. Writing something for your Icelandic blog, let’s say at least once a week, is a wonderful tool for both pushing all the new information into the long-time storage of your memory and documenting your progress.

Yyyyup, the next one is forgetting Icelandic entirely for a day. We all do that, sometimes several days in a row. It’s not a positive habit though so good riddance. It stings to lose hard earned points but it’s a great motivator. By the way, if case you know you won’t be able to be online for a while you can always set your Habitica account into sleeping mode: then it’ll stay waiting for you just as it is and no Dailies will get at you.

Last one is only for the true Icelandic language masochists, I mean learners. Go to BÍN (link) and type a word into the search field. Any word will do as long as you’ve spelled it correctly with Icelandic alphabet (copy-pasting from Icelandic text works well). Then see the declension forms it springs at you and get to work!

…ok, there may be a gazillion forms. Really, try for the last one only if you know you have time, patience and – actually a bit of masochism will be useful. For a light version you could opt for learning one new word each day, by f.ex. learning the words for all the furniture in your room, vocabulary for your other hobbies or just making a list of Icelandic things in Icelandic. Habby Habitica-ing!

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University of Iceland logo by Juanjo Marin

How to find studying material for cheap/free 

  • Books in Icelandic can be found in libraries and on online auction/selling sites. If you want recommendations, Hulda agrees with this list. Another author Hulda warmly recommends is Sjón (link).
  • Youtube has an ample amount of Icelandic music – just write “Icelandic music” in the search field and go.
  • Icelandic Cinema (link) is your place for finding movies!
  • Icelandic news sites are many, but the most popular ones are Visir (link) and MBL (link).
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About the Author: hulda

Hi, I'm Hulda, originally Finnish but now living in the suburbs of Reykjavík. I'm here to help you in any way I can if you're considering learning Icelandic. Nice to meet you!


Comments:

  1. Helen:

    Hi Hulda,
    I also use the social network to help my everyday Icelandic. I have joined two public groups to share my hobby of knitting, also great for lopapeysa knitting patterns! It’s helpful to get vocabulary and expressions used day by day in these groups around a similar topic. Regularity is the key word for me in language learning, plus the curiosity to know what people are talking about in their native tongue. 🙂