20 April, 2017

Coffee with språk, please!


After three months of immersing myself in Swedish, I’m going to make a small resolution. It is one thing to pass the language course but to actually apply it in real world is another. And because spring is here, let’s get out more!

For a shy and introvert person it can be hard to force yourself out from the comfort of social media and unlimited streaming and go out and practice your Swedish skills on strangers. But what if there’s a community that will not glance weirdly at you and your broken Swedish? The answer is yes and some of you may know it already.

I’m talking about språkcafe (language café), the casual language exchange method accompanied with warm beverages that traced back to the 1800s.

Here I have gathered some of the interesting språkcafe groups in Sweden that may get the social side of you out. Or at least curious to try it. I will supply the reasons for doing this as well. It may because it has a unique background, good coffee, hosted in a wonderful building or just by being so compassionate throughout the years. So get ready to sharpen your tongue and the uttal and betoning.

A One-on-One meeting

For a more private touch, language exchanges can be done through a platform called Nya Kompisbyrån. This Swedish-made site will help two people meet in order to chat over coffee and especially practice Swedish. It is done almost like a language matchmaking. And it benefits those who wish to meet new friends, get to know them personally, and find them in or around your neighborhood. Because they can match the locations as well. One drawback I think, that there’s a fee.

Meet a bigger group through social media

If just two people is way too intimate, let’s try not to be too picky about whom you engage with. A pool of people can be easily be found through the Meetup app, there are plenty of language exchange meetings happening regularly. And on the plus side they are mostly free. For example, one group hold a gathering every Wednesday hosted at the beautiful Historiska Museets restaurang in Stockholm.

During the rest of the week you can RSVP to practice your language together in other interesting museums, cafes or gardens. These are all organized by the non-profit network called Internationella Bekantskaper (IB), who would like to eliminate the gap between locals and immigrants. Even far from Stockholm, there are people who organize språkcafe to tackle similar issues.

The Library and Red Cross

Similarly the Red Cross organization collaborates with libraries in most cities throughout Sweden to open språkcafe. They can be found in every kommun, in all the main cities and it costs nothing. They also differentiate between different levels of language training, have specialized group by ages, just for women (mother-with-child friendly) and meet usually three times a week.

I find that compared to the other types of språkcafe, the activities at the Red Cross organized språkcafe are more pedagogic and slightly more classroom-like.

Unconventional settings (movie theater and cultural incubator)

Because language and art goes pretty handy together, there are two more places I’d like to put on this list. First, it’s the cultural incubator called Dramalogen located in Halmstad. What I found interesting is that besides struggling to convey your message in Swedish while sipping coffee, you can also do so while making handicrafts or dancing. The meeting looks almost like a daytime party. Silly but fun.

Back in Stockholm again, you can visit a classic movie theater in Midsommarkransen, along the tunnelbana red line. However here they only offer Swedish and French exchange for now, but who knows – there might be more in the future.

Written by: Totto Pastime

Originally from Indonesia, Totto has been living in India and Singapore before moving to Sweden. While pursuing her passion in life science and medicine in Stockholm, she is exploring her new Swedish environment through music and lyrics. You can find her spending weekend nights either jamming or attending indie gigs. Besides blogging for The Newbie Guide to Sweden, Totto also writes for Infective Perspective to discuss human viruses.

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