Moving to an other country made me realize how important are languages. Knowing a language doesn’t only implies being able to buy something at the supermarket or ordering your coffee in the morning. Mastering the country’s language in which you live is the key to understand a culture, a society and to be fully part of it.
It has been few months that I am settled in Sweden and it has few months that I try as much as I can to learn Swedish. As a ex-language student, I have picked some tips to learn more efficiently foreign languages through the years. But as a normal human being, I know that mastering Swedish will take time and efforts.
Living in the country may be an advantage when it comes to build up your vocabulary and being able to express yourself in every situations. It can be also confusing when you have to tackle with different accents/pronounciations or when you have to deal with slang and other creepy words or expressions. However, for those like me who would like to know some tips to learn Swedish in Sweden, here are mine :
(N.B : some of those tips are not specific to Swedish and may be applied to other foreign languages !)
BOOKS AND OTHER LITERATURE :
Rivstart (By Paula Levy Scherrer and Karl Lindemalm) : I went through many language books in Swedish. A lot may be helpful if you have the assistance of a teacher, but when it comes to self-learning, only one have the perfect balance between vocabulary, grammar, exercices and pronounciation. The baby is called « Rivstart », a complete range of language books that goes from a beginner to and upper-intermediate level (an advanced level is apparently coming out very soon). Each levels are divided into two books : a textbook and an exercise book. The text book will make you learn new vocabulary, practice your oral comprehension and your pronounciation. The exercise book will target more the Swedish grammar and vocabulary.
Common Swedish Verbs (by David Hensleigh) : a great way to learn Swedish verbs more easily ! This small books is a simple list of the most used Swedish verbs with there translation, the indication of their grammatical group and verbal flexions.
Pictorial dictionnaries (bildordbok in Swedish) : the best alternative for lazy learners 🙂 Pictorial dictionnaries allow you to associate images with words in a foreign language without having to look for the translation in a common dictionnary. Those dictionnaries are divided into sections to permits you to learn words of the same theme.
Phrasebooks : you may don’t know how to say « where is the plateform n° X ? » or maybe your teacher has forgoten to teach you the meaning of « tvättstuga »? A phrasebook is made for that, giving you the most necessary words and phrases that you may have to use in common situations. It is also a great way to build up your vocabulary; notably when it comes to food and shopping. Let it in your bag and remember to have a look on it in transports for a quick revision.
Folkuniversitet : definitely the best way to have a good start in Swedish but also the most expensive alternative… This school, widely known in Sweden proposes different offers to learn Swedish, from a normal introduction to the language to an extra intensive course. This schools offers also differents courses to develop your speaking or writting skills.
Here the official page in English :folkuniversitet.se
« Medspråk » at Medborgarskolan : For intermediate level learners this school gives you the opportunity to practice your Swedish with natives and build up your vocabulary for free ! Every weeks, two Swedish volounteers organise a conversationnal course with foreigners two allow them to speak the most as them can. The goal is two apply what you already learn in Swedish to make you more confident with the language. A simple registration is needed and few sessions are organized during the week.
Here for more information :medborgarskolan.se
Radio and TV :
Listening to the radio or watching TV may be very frustrative for beginners. We don’t get the story, it becomes boring and finally switch off to screen. But even at that level, just making your ears and brain used to ear a foreign language can be life changing. Even if you understand nothing, hearing the language regualrly will make you remember the vocabulary more easily, develop your pronouciation and strenghten your comprehension.
Here are my selection of podcasts and Tv programs that I use the most :
Radio Sweden på lätt svenska : the national radio gives you the news of the days with easy words and sentences. A great way to understand the news and improve your Swedish at the same time.
P4 Klartext : shot docuentaries with in « easy Swedish ». As I remember the full script is available on the P4 official webpage.
P4 Svenska Ikoner : for more advanced learners, this program interviews different Swedish icons. A gateway to the Swedish culture !
The one an only : SVT play. You can watch replay Swedish TV programs from your computer on svtplay.se. The website contains also an option for subtitles. Add them for an extra help !