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Why learn Swedish?

Why learn Swedish? It is a tiny language spoken by less than 10 million people and most people you meet in Sweden will have at least basic knowledge in English? Is it really worth the effort? Well the short answer is YES and this is why.

  1. it will increase the number of people you can communicate with
  2. it will make you independent
  3. it will increase your understanding of Sweden and its people
  4. it will increase your employment potential
  5. it is a requirement for entering any higher education in Sweden
  6. it will sharpen your cognitive skills.

1. You will be able to talk to more people

Let’s start with two important points. Firstly, not every Swede speaks English. Children, elderly people or those who haven’t had the opportunity to practice their English on travels, usually have limited English skills.

Secondly, not every Swede feels comfortable communicating in English. Learning Swedish will enable you to communicate with all kind of Swedes, which will widen your horizon.

2. It will make you independent

Not speaking Swedish means that you must rely on people who do. You depend on their good will and you will have to settle with their interpretation of news and conversations, their views and their understanding of official communication.

You will also depend on them to translate your thoughts and opinions to Swedish. It is possible to live this way, but it isn’t fun in the long run. Learn Swedish and become independent and in charge of your own life.

3. It will make you understand Sweden and Swedes

Speaking Swedish will improve your understanding of Sweden as a nation. A language is so much more than just words and a lot of a country’s history, habits and cultural values are inherent in the language. Words and sayings are loaded and coded with meaning and associations.

Learning Swedish will give you the ability to step inside the minds and cultural context of the Swedes. This may sound pretentious, but learning a country’s language is a way to enter the very heart of that nation.

Accepting that you must learn Swedish will make your life easier in the long run. You are the new kid on the block. There were about ten million people here before you, and they did just fine without you. So, if someone is supposed to make an effort it’s you. Learning Swedish is part of that effort, it will open up this country for you and make you a part of it.

4. It will make it easier to find work

Working in Sweden usually means that you must interact with Swedes in Swedish. Yes, there may be some working fields where you can stay in your language bubble or communicate with your co-workers in English (or another language).

But the simple fact is, that most jobs and most employers need you to speak Swedish. Learning Swedish will therefore make it easier for you to find work.

5. It is a requirement for higher education

Any type of higher education in Sweden will require you to have a certain level of Swedish. There are some exceptions, such as if you do a Master or PHD entirely taught in English. But, if you want to study at a bachelor level or enter the Swedish student aid system (CSN) you must speak Swedish.

There are two options if you are interested in studying at a Swedish university. You can either do the TISUS (Test in Swedish for University Studies) or you can opt for the SAS (svenska som andraspråk) – a three level Swedish course taught at your local KOMVUX  (education for adults). These courses will provide you with the same level of Swedish as high school students and will (when successfully finished) qualify you for higher studies in Sweden just as TISUS.

More on TISUS & SAS

6. It will sharpen your cognitive skills

Learning Swedish (or any other language) will actually make you smarter. Science has shown that people who learn a foreign language acquire a greater cognitive development in terms of mental flexibility, creativity and abstract thinking (like problem-solving, conceptualizing and reasoning).

But it doesn’t end there, language learners seems to gain important life skills too. Mostly because people who learn a new language, learn to deal with unfamiliar cultural ideas and concepts. So, learning Swedish will not only make you smarter it will also make you better equipped to this fast-changing world.

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