Written by Fabiola Isidro Alemán
When I moved to Sweden three years ago, I was very determined to learn Swedish, I did everything that I could to learn the language and fully integrate into Swedish life; take Swedish lessons, get a part-time job where I could practice my Swedish, ask for help in Swedish, watch Swedish movies and tv shows…well, everything outside my comfort zone.
My efforts were somehow fruitful. I reached some milestones such as understanding what I was buying in the supermarket and even finishing a book in Swedish (oh that feeling!) but then I came to that point where I noticed that I was not doing progress anymore. I was studying to learn new vocabulary and become more fluent but in the end, I could not fully understand an article in the newspaper nor flow in any conversation; It was daunting. That feeling made me recognize that I was stuck in intermediate level! This is something called the intermediate plateau – The point where you stop making progress as quickly as you did in the past.
If you’re facing the same situation in your Swedish learning journey, I feel you! It can be frustrating but let me tell you that these are actually good news…yes! Reaching the intermediate plateau is a natural part of the language learning process and It might represent a good opportunity to redefine your learning strategy and finally become an advanced learner in Swedish. Here I share the action plan that helped me make significant progress:
Assess your efforts
If you – dear newbie – are reading this, probably you have also set the objective of reaching an advanced level of Swedish. Becoming an advanced learner has a different meaning for every person, for some newbies, it might represent the chance the get a dream job, for some others a chance to make new friends but we all start from that zero point. When I started my Swedish learning journey, I started like everyone else; introducing myself, talking about my hobbies…I remember the excitement after learning to pronounce the å, ä, ö letters properly. My motivation levels were higher than ever. The journey gets challenging when you understand that the more you advance, the higher effort it takes… but that’s not even the most difficult part; trying to stay motivated along the way is the real challenge.
If we get to the hard facts, reaching an advanced level means that the person needs to reach around 10 000 words in their vocabulary. Beginners start from zero, and every single new word feels like a huge milestone. However, when you already have in your vocabulary a significant amount of words, adding another five words to your vocabulary doesn’t feel like big progress, right? This is the part where many people start to lose motivation. In my case, not only did I lose motivation but also and I entered, what I call the passive learning way. I kept on studying Swedish grammar, sometimes watching tv in Swedish and that was it… These are not bad strategies themselves but now that I have assessed these efforts, I realized that these strategies did not suit my needs, I needed to work more on my weaknesses which were speaking and writing and I would not acquire more vocabulary or comprehension through the same methods that I was already feeling comfortable with. This process required a moment of reflection so, if you feel stuck perhaps is a sign that you need to take a pause and reflect. I encourage you to question if your efforts to get ahead on your learning journey are suitable for you; Is the method motivating enough? Does it push you to work on your weaknesses?
Redefine the strategy
After realizing my efforts, it was time to redefine a strategy that would work for me. I decided that I needed methods where I needed to produce my own words and work with topics that were exciting and challenging for me. This could be strategies such as explaining to someone something that I read or listened to, and then having a discussion time, the motivation gets higher and higher as you learn about the topic that you are interested in and besides you get feedback that indicates that the person understands what you talked about. Let me be open and honest, it might be difficult at the beginning but you’ll see that you become more and more confident every time, just be patient.
Another strategy was writing a text where I explain with my own words something that again I read or listened to. This method was slightly easier for me but also helped me to work on my other weakness. Regardless of the method that you define, oftentimes finding your way means to keep pushing through more tedious tasks but believe me, it does pay off.
E-learning course: Your Swedish learning options
Are you feeling a bit overwhelmed about The Swedish stuff? Where can you learn? How does it work? Can you join the different options if you don’t have a Swedish personal number? We’ve got you covered. Over the years we’ve been repeatedly told just confusing this process can be so we created a digital course with all the information you need to make a good decision. Here you will learn about:
- The different study options to learn Swedish in Sweden.
- The differences between study alternatives.
- How much Swedish (and other things) you need for other educational paths in Sweden as well as to work in Swedish.
After finishing this course, you will be able to make an educated study choice and you will learn the most important key words and phrases for studying Swedish in Sweden. Hopefully, Swedish will start making sense!
Document your progress
I thank my teachers during my beginner times for allowing me to keep my written papers. Every time I read the text I wrote while I was studying beginner level I get happy and motivated to see the progress I made. When you become more advanced you tend to overlook your small or big progress. This is an excellent method to measure your progress. It also helps you identify the areas you have improved and those you should be working more on. Last but not least, it gives you a boost in motivation which is the big challenge on this path towards the advanced Swedish level.
The path towards becoming an advanced learner is an uphill but also a non-linear process. As we get further in our learning journey, we tend to forget why we started and we end up losing clarity and motivation. Remember that you are not alone in this. Have a look in retrospect and realize how far you have come.
I hope this might help you on your journey to becoming advanced. Please let me know in the comments how you feel and what you have tried to do when you feel stuck learning Swedish. I wish you good luck in your Swedish learning path!
About the Author
Hej! I’m Fabiola and I come from Mexico. I left tropical palm trees for cold snow but I’ve gained a lot of insights and perspective after living and studying abroad. I’ve been fortunate to learn from different cultures and lifestyles such as those from England, France, Spain, and now Sweden. In my every day I do business and creative stuff. I love chocolate & cheese treats and I get lost in time with film score music and singing. Hope you find my life experiences helpful!