While it is totally possible to live here without speaking Swedish, learning the language gives you a better understanding of your surroundings. You can learn more about the culture and the people, and it can open up opportunities you wouldn’t have otherwise seen, for example, you might read a flyer about joining a new organization or an event you’d be interested in. Not to mention, being able to speak with a Swede in their own language can give you a sense of accomplishment (especially since they are so annoyingly good at English).
It would be great to just be able to comfortably hold a conversation with my Swedish friends and family in their language. I try to text my family only in Swedish, which is a good way to see how much I both do and don’t know so far. Another reason that I’d like to learn is because I would like to stay here after graduating and knowing the language should make everyday life and finding a job easier. So what tools am I using to learn Swedish?
SFI - Swedish for Immigrants (SFI)
This is a national free language course offered to people who have emigrated to Sweden from other countries. My course has people from many different countries in it, and we started out learning the very basics of Swedish with the alphabet, letter sounds, and so on. I have learned a lot of new vocabulary, learning both writing and speaking skills. I like this course because knowing that I have a class to attend helps me stick to practicing. My biggest struggle has been listening comprehension, so it’s great to be able to listen to the teachers speak. I plan to stay in the course all the way through to get as much out of it as I can. If you would like to join this course, you have to sign up early because there is a long wait time due to the number of people trying to join.
Duolingo - A popular language app and website
I really like Duolingo because it makes learning a language kind of like a game. The app starts out with basics but doesn’t spell out things like grammar rules and sentence structure, so instead, you learn just by completing more and more lessons. You can set the amount of points you want as your goal for each day, and it will send you a reminder to do your lessons. I started learning Swedish on it a few years ago, and sometimes I am very good about doing lessons every day, and other times I forget about it for a while. At one point, I had a daily streak of over 100 days of lessons! Even though it doesn’t exactly teach you the language rules, I think it can give you a very good understanding of how to use the language.
TV and Movies
So far I have only watched a few Swedish language shows. There are not very many Swedish shows on Netflix, and many of them are dark crime dramas (there are so many of these shows that there is a genre of books and series called Nordic Noir). I have watched some of them, like a Swedish/French/English show called Midnattssol (Midnight Sun) about crimes in northern Sweden. I usually prefer comedy though, and I have been looking for Swedish shows similar to my favorites. I enjoy a British show called Taskmaster, where comedians compete to creatively complete tasks, and I recently discovered that there is a Swedish version called Bäst i Test! Since I know I will like the show, I am more excited to watch it in Swedish. As I watch, I use Swedish subtitles and translate words as necessary. I watch the show on SVT Play, which has a huge number of Swedish shows and movies in all genres, it’s a great source for finding something new to watch!
Another good way to learn with TV and movies is by watching children’s movies! These movies are dubbed for kids, so you can find movies you already know, like Toy Story or the first Harry Potter film, and listen to the dialogue in Swedish (though I admit it is strange at first to hear familiar characters like Buzz Lightyear speak in a different voice).
I’m still early on the road to becoming fluent in Swedish, but these tools are getting me there a little bit at a time!