#clearthelist May 2017 + new language!

Wow, it’s been awhile. To make a long story short, I was so busy in Stockholm with my intensive B2 Swedish classes and volunteering as a translator/marketing/event planning volunteer with the royal family’s charity that I felt like my language needs were pretty much covered. Now that I’m back in the US, focusing on keeping up my language learning should be and is my #1 priority.

If you haven’t done #clearthelist before, Lindsay, Angel, Kris, and Shannon host a monthly blog linkup to discuss and support each other in our language learning journey. Without further ado…

What I achieved while in Sweden  (January to April)


My Swedish level is really advanced now. I only speak Swedish with Jonas’ family, our friends, and my classmates at a high conversational level and I rarely feel hampered by my ability when speaking. In addition, I translated my volunteer opportunity’s (see above) annual report from Swedish to English with minimal problems. I am not fluent yet but, dang it, I feel close!

Spanish and Portuguese

Part of my role was translating documents from English to Spanish and Portuguese and vice versa. It was the same feeling as when you stretch after a long car ride – it feels good to get blood pumping into those areas again. However, while my writing, reading, and listening levels are still intermediate/advanced, I’ve noticed that I slip in Swedish words when speaking. I need to work on compartmentalizing my languages better. Does anyone have advice on how to do that? On a positive note, that means the my Swedish is becoming automatic 🙂

viking picture.png

Clearly, I am very Swedish now

May Goals


  • Finish the Mötley Crue biography in Swedish – Unusual choice, I know! Jonas had it in our apartment and I thought it would be a fun way to learn unusual words.
  • Listen to Filip och Fredik twice a week – As possibly the most popular Swedish language podcast, they are a great way to focus on my language flow and sentence melody. Also, they have an episode in English once a week so I can listen to that one as a way to acclimate myself to Swedish ‘humor’ and pop culture.
  • Write an essay weekly – Jonas is the best boyfriend in the world and said that he would read and correct a Swedish essay by me once a week as long as I picked an interesting topic. Last week was on growing up in ‘Trumpland’. Hopefully, I can keep up the momentum.
  • Maintain independent study schedule– Because there is no demand for distance B2+ and C1 classes, I need to study independently now. Before I left Sweden, I bought all the recommended Folkuniversistet course books so I can replicate advanced courses here. I created a plan so I could finish all the lessons by September so sticking to the schedule is a MAJOR goal.
  • Speak only Swedish at least once a week – I wanted to set a manageable goal for speaking, especially because this is one of my strongest suits. In addition, I have more people to speak with now so this should be easy.


  • Learn 10 new phrases on Memrise every day – My Spanish level is pretty high so this is a great way to review and clean off the cobwebs
  • Find an opportunity to speak Spanish once a week – Between a large Spanish-speaking population in my home town, a trip to New Mexico, and quality time planned with my little brother (also a Spanish speaker), this should be a home run.


  • Learn 10 new phrases on Memrise every day – Again, this is should be more of a refresher.
  • Translate a Portuguese-speaking Youtube video’s subtitles into English once a week– I did this with Swedish and it was super helpful! It increased my comprehension by leaps and bounds and I picked up conversational phrases that made my speaking sound more natural.


  • Learn a new vocab word every day (and use it in a sentence) – I saw this list on Pinterest about beautiful words in the English language. Many were already familiar to me, but there is always opportunities to improve your native language 🙂

and introducing…Japanese!

For some background — Japanese was actual my first foreign language. Long story short, my grandpa, who had lived in Japan during the Korean War, spoke Japanese at a conversational level. When I was around 5 years old, he taught me Japanese. We used to speak Japanese with the one Japanese immigrant in our county and we both had pen pals in Toyko for many years. When our native speaker friend passed away when I was 8-9 year old, we gradually stopped speaking it. Finally, over the past ten years of battling Alzheimer’s, my grandpa barely speaks English, let alone Japanese. For me, learning Japanese achieves three goals: becoming a polyglot, reconnecting with a culture I loved, and remembering happy memories with my grandpa. Currently, my goal is to become B1 level in Japanese. To achieve that goal:

  • Learn ten new words in Memrise every day– I’ve already started on this and I can feel old Japanese knowledge coming back.
  • Start Duolingo course – According to their website, it should be released in Beta around mid-May. This should be a good supplement to Memrise.
  • Learn all of the Hiragana – This will be the hardest. Confession – neither my grandpa nor I understood any written Japanese. We just spoke and listened so I am starting from scratch. Does anyone have any recommendations for apps to use to learn all the kinds of Japanese characters?


What are you doing with your #languagegoals? Are you learning one of these languages? Do you have advice for me? Leave me a comment below!


5 thoughts on “#clearthelist May 2017 + new language!

  1. tiiamerenheimo says:

    I enjoyed reading your post – you’ve done well, that’s so great! I plan to concentrate on refreshing my Swedish in June-July and I think I’ll pick some ideas from your Swedish learning plans 🙂
    The question about how to compartmentalize is interesting, I’d also love to hear some pro tips for that one. Personally I’ve thought it should be good to train my brain to switch from one language to another at any time, so even though many people seem to favor having separate studying days dedicated for just one language, I even deliberately switch between languages within the same day – but I don’t actually know what the science of language learning says; is this a good strategy or will it make me mix the languages more in the long run… 😀

    Also I loved your story with the Japanese language. Good luck and all the best!


      • tiiamerenheimo says:

        That would be great! I’m really planning to immerse myself in as much Swedish as I can in June and have actually been planning to look for some people to occasionally practice with 🙂

        There are quite a few Swedish speakers in the Helsinki region (where I live) and some friends of mine have Swedish as their first language. But it doesn’t feel natural at all to speak Swedish with them, as they are perfectly bilingual and very used to speak Finnish everywhere and all the time and… I don’t know, these sound like bad excuses but it just feels very very difficult and awkward!

        The blog post seems to say what I’ve thought should work – practicing to switch languages quickly and even deal with two different languages at the same time trains your brain and eventually you get better. So maybe, for instance if you do tandem practice, you could switch the languages every now and then instead of speaking one language first and the other second? I’ve been doing this with a French girl who is learning Swedish – we switch between French and Swedish whenever we feel like it, middle of the conversation. Usually my brain gets really confused after some time, and I start mixing the two together and cannot find the words I’m looking for in any language. 😀


  2. bouquinette000 says:

    Good luck with your goals for May 🙂
    I love your helmet!

    You have such a nice/emotional story with Japanese. To learn the Kana, I used videos on JapanesePod101, the Kana Series. You can see some (2 ou 3 frist videos) for free on Youtube. For Kanji, I use a French textbook and the website WaniKani (by Tofugu), here too the first chapters are free so you can try it to get a start and before committing financially 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • pbnkelli says:

      Thanks so much! Do you use other apps/ website/text books for learning vocab or grammar? I’ve just dipped my toes into iTalki, I have Beginner Japanesese and Memrise, and I listen to Japanese Pod. Am I missing something?


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