Swedish in Three Months (?)

Well, my ‘learn Swedish’ summer personal challenge is at an end. I must admit I had a massive slowdown in August but overall am happy with my little experiment. This was the first time I’ve taken on a new language while not living in the country or studying formally (at school). I think the three month time limit was a great way to focus my learning through the beginning stages of getting to know the language.

As I mentioned before, I used the website Babbel.com to get started with learning words and phrases. This was the primary resource of study. I’m now midway through level three and have learned more than 230 phrases. I haven’t added up how much actual vocabulary that is, but it was a good start for building my own sentences. Their periodic grammar breakdowns and supplemental vocab that can be accessed on a smartphone made it really fit in with the way I like to study.

For fun, I also read Swedish news (in English) on thelocal.se and read short Swedish news articles on 8sidor. After all, learning about the culture is part of the fun! I really knew very little about Sweden before. I also salivated over some work and travel options in Sweden via Helpx.

One of the more amusing readings I came across this summer was the e-book Sweden 2012: From A to One-of-Those-Strange-Letters, by Linnea Van Wagenen.  The author attempts to identify and explain anything a foreigner in Sweden might be puzzled about, like pop culture references to TV shows that Swedes loved as children, to well known murder trials, cultural traditions, celebrities, and brand preferences.  She includes links to YouTube videos and other sites, making it a really fun (and funny) exploration of Swedish culture from one Swedes point of view.

Anyway, besides the overall slowdown in my studies this month, my only disappointment was I didn’t find a native speaker to practice with.  I e-mailed a few people on language exchange sites but didn’t hear back and the teachers I found had rates a little bit out of my current budget.  I’ve got a few leads on local Swedish speakers though, so maybe I’ll find someone soon.

I definitely enjoy learning organically, if that works as a description.

  • Have a focal study tool, ideally private lessons but in my case it was online lessons.
  • Learn ‘fun’ things, read blogs in the language or news or Wikipedia. Watch funny YouTube videos, whatever keeps you interested.  In the beginning stages I just try to get used to the sounds and rhythm of the language, see if I can recognize high frequency words and maybe pull a few good phrases out of it for further study.
  • Have a grammar book to dip into when you’re getting stuck.  I usually try to map out the grammar and guess at the rules on my own and then check myself against the books. You need to understand basic grammatical concepts and sentence structure to do that.
  • Just finished a lesson on ordering food at a restaurant? Brainstorm extra vocab and phrases you think you’ll use that you didn’t learn and make your own supplemental vocab lists.
  • Enjoy!

Overall, It was a fun jump-start! Wish me luck on my continued studies.

Here’s a funny video to end with: