Swedish Whaaa…?

I’ve come across a few things while browsing the web for Swed-spiration that made me go Whaa…?

Here’s one:

I keep thinking of other random things I can store in it. It loops to your belt so you can just walk around dispensing your objects wherever you go. Cool.

Swedish Stats: On babbel, I’m at Lesson 14 (Traveling on a Holiday in Sweden) with 123 phrases “learned”.  Babbel employs SRS systems to keep track of not just what you’ve learned, but how well you’ve learned it.  There are 6 levels of “knowing” a word. I’ve slowed down my speed through the lessons as I spend time after each lesson going through past words and phrases for review. Once I’ve correctly recognized a phrase enough times it gets moved up a level and I get quizzed on it slightly less often.

I’ve also added several sentences to Anki, an SRS system where you create your own content. I found a fun site, Tjuvlyssnat, where people post funny conversations they overheard (similar to this one in English).  Since I’m still a total beginner in Swedish (A1 Level) of course, i can’t just sit here and read them. But I try!

Here’s how I use native-language sites as a beginner:

  • Spend a little time on one paragraph, just reading through- sound words out phonetically, see if you can recognize or guess at the general meaning, the main verb, the subject, grammatical structure, etc.   High frequency words you’ll start to pick out right away, like and/or he/she is/are etc. Don’t go nuts, just relax and see what you can see. You’ll also get a feel for what’s coming grammar-wise. For instance, I’m still mostly learning standard, unchanged nouns in my Swedish course, but I can see in my general reading that nouns change their ending, lose their ending, or get combined.  I can even begin to guess the rules.
  • Next I feed the site into Goggle translate. I know it won’t be perfect, but it’s pretty good.  Google translate has text-to-speechfunctionality so you can hear the words pronounced (and see if you guessed the pronunciation right) and if you click on words in the English part it will highlight the corresponding words and phrases in the source language.
  • Next I select a few sentences and phrases to put into my Anki cards. Rarely do I study a single word, unless it’s a one-word exclamation. I select phrases that either 1) show a grammatical structure I want to use, 2) show a new word in context, or  3) reflect things I commonly say in conversation in English (idioms, humor, slang).
  • I don’t just make a card with the Swedish and then the English translation, I also record an audio-clip (in Anki) of me saying the phrase, after listening and practicing of course.

Some people like to study a lot of words one-by-one, worrying that memorizing a whole sentence will keep them from being versatile with the language. There’s nothing wrong with vocab lists, but I think learning sentences is like equipping yourself with tons of little ready-made templates. A whole sentence rolling off your tongue is kind of nice. Just make sure you understand each part of the sentence, and you’ll be able to use it as building blocks.

An example from one of this week’s phrases on how to use a sentence as building blocks:

Jag trodde att du pratade om farfar!     Translation: I thought you were talking about grandpa!

Now, we can take out “grandpa” and put in a bunch of other things. Next, Use “I thought you were…” and insert other verbs you’ve learned, etc.  Later, you’ll be able to pull up the phrase “I thought you were…” much more naturally.

Vad Kul!

Other Languages: As I hoped, my time studying Swedish has gotten me amped about my other languages as well. I  spend 10-20 minutes a day on Chinese writing and have kept up on my once-a-week French reading as well.  Just last month, my favorite Chinese writing tool, Skritter, launched their iPhone app, so that was motivation as well since I can practice writing at lunch. This week I reviewed 350 characters.