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How to learn Swedish?

Learning a language is a bit like revealing a mystery. Each word will bring you closer to the revelation. But learning a language is a long process and requires hard work. This is why you should try to turn your learning processes into a stimulating experience, where you adapt your way of learning to your way of being.

This is what you do

  1. decide WHY you are learning the language
  2. set realistic goals
  3. immerse yourself in the language
  4. remember that practice makes perfect
  5. be consistent
  6. learn vocabulary in context
  7. know that age is just a number
  8. keep it fun
  9. do some revision of your native language
  10. save your money

1. Know why you are doing it

It is natural that you will face doubts during the learning process. You will probably question yourself and your project and if all the work is really worth it. This is when you mustn’t let your motivation slip. And the best way to keep your motivation up is to be clear about why you are making the effort to learn Swedish.

There are many reasons for learning Swedish and you probably have your own. Write them down and turn to them in times of self-doubt.

2. Make realistic and achievable goals

Goals can be met or failed. When you meet them, you feel great, confident and ready for your next challenge. But if you fail them it’s normal to feel unhappy and unmotivated which usually makes you less eager to reach for new goals. This is why you should commit to realistic and achievable goals.

However, setting realistic goals doesn’t mean that you have to settle for lesser dreams. Feel free to aim for the stars but make sure to break this main goal into a bunch of smaller goals. Let’s say you want to write the TISUS in a year. It is an ambitious goal for a newbie but achievable if you are prepared to work hard. So make a plan and be as specific as possible. What needs to be achieved by when in order to reach your final goal?

3. Immerse yourself into the language

Opinions vary on how we best learn a language – focus on grammar, get talking, join language classes or use an online program. There is no “fits all” solution. We are all different and we learn differently. Yet there is a method that usually works regardless of which learning approach you choose – to immerse yourself in the language.

  • Read comics, magazines or children’s books – even if you don’t understand everything.
  • Take on a book you’ve already read in your native tongue.
  • Listen to the audio version of the book while reading it at the same time.
  • Listen to the radio, TV or an audiobook. Listen to the rhythm and pace.

A tip: go to the library. You will find a lot of books, audiobooks, magazines and newspaper there and it’s all for free.

4. Forget perfection – skill comes with practice

Many newbies hesitate to start talking and writing. We want to be perfect and not to be embarrassed by mistakes. But – waiting to be perfect is a big mistake. Learning a language requires a lot of practice. And you need people to practice. So start talking to friends, partners or neighbours and use every opportunity to interact.

A tip for the shy ones: do you find it unbearable to put yourself out there? Well, we know people who started by talking to their pet, to themselves or by singing Swedish pop songs. It doesn’t matter how you do it, just that you do it.

5. Be consistent

Learning a language requires consistency. It is better to do a little bit every day and to keep at it consistently. Try to find a learning habit that you can follow even when you’re tired, sick or madly in love – and stick to it.

6. Learn words in a context

A great way to build a vocabulary is to learn words in a context. When you associate a word with a real situation, you are more likely to remember it, as association is a powerful memorization tool. And you don’t need to learn everything at once. Start by learning the important words that you use on a daily basis.

If you, for example, work in a restaurant, you will probably use words such as tack, varsågod, smaklig måltid, inte stark, servett etc. Write these words down, bring them with you everywhere and use every opportunity to practice. Repetion is after all the mother of all learning.

7. Age is just a number

To old an rusty to learn Swedish? Well, think again. Science shows that languages are simultaneously organic and systematic which implies that languages can be learned in both ways. While children learn languages organically and instinctively, adults tend to be more systematic in their approach. Each approach comes with its own strengths and weaknesses. So ignore the myth. Age is just a number.

8. Keep it fun

Bad memories of language classes back in school? Well, learning Swedish doesn’t has to be boring. Just find a way that works for you. You won’t learn more just because you bore yourself silly. On the contrary – you will probably learn less this way. Dull and irrelevant texts and exercises will just make you tired and hurt your motivation.

So, find ways to do things you like in Swedish – like watching movies in Swedish, talking with friends or socializing with people in a bar over a football game. It is important that you associate the Swedish language with things that you appreciate.

9. Revise your native language

Your mother tongue has great influence on your ability to learn Swedish. The better you master your native language, the better you will learn Swedish. So don’t forget to read, speak and think in your mother tongue, even though you’re busy immersing into the mysteries of the Swedish language.

10. Save your money

Learning Swedish doesn’t have to be expensive. It doesn’t even have to cost at all. Many good resources are totally free. Start by visiting your local library. There is one in almost any Swedish city. These facilities are calm and welcoming and thhe librarians are usually happy to help. There are plenty of books, audio books magazines and newspapers. There are also a lot of  easy read books that enable beginners to read classics, crimes, fantasy etc. You can also find language courses for self-studies.

Useful websites

  • Sveriges Television, Svtplay – is the national TV station funded by taxes and has a wide variety of interesting programs. Information in Swedish.
  • Utbildningsradion, UR – is the educational radio station that is part by the Swedish Radio. Information in Swedish.
  • Sveriges Radio– is the national radio station, it is funded by taxes and has a wide variety of fun and informative programs. Information in Swedish.

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