Swedish course is the most common way to learn Swedish. However, it is actually not the one and only way to improve Swedish language skill. In this blog, I will share my experience in learning Swedish, beside Swedish course.
But first, here is my short story in learning Swedish through courses
Just like many students do to learn Swedish, I joined SFI (Swedish for immigrants) program at C level, then continued with D level. After finishing D level, I was pretty confidence to start speaking simple Swedish in daily life and take a Swedish part-time job.
Yet, I decided to continue learning further. So finished all levels in SaS basic (SaS, svenska som andraspråk, is a continuation after SFI). I spent almost a year to learn Swedish, from SFI until SaS basic level 4. After SaS, there are still several other levels left to learn! They are SvA level 1-3. Yet, I decided to pause my Swedish course since I had too much things to learn during my study in Master’s Programme in Nutrition Science :p
Joining courses has helped me a lot in learning Swedish. However, I think, what I have learned in the course sometimes differed from the real life. A simple example: in Swedish beginner course, “hur mår du?” is the first sentence I learned to ask “how are you?” to someone. But in the real life, it is apparently quite unusual to use “hur mår du?” to greet someone we meet everyday. It is more common to say “läget?” or “hur är det?“. I found that people usually use “hur mår du?” to greet someone they have not met for a long time, or to ask one’s general health condition.
So, when you are learning Swedish, try to practice it in the real-life with native speakers to make your learning contextual! In addition, I found some practical and easy ways to improve the Swedish skills.
Ways to learn Swedish, other than Swedish course
1. Listening to news in “easy Swedish”
For me, listening is harder than reading in Swedish. It is probably because Swedes have various accents and Swedish language is so melodic! To improve my listening skill, I enjoyed listening to news in easy Swedish brought by Radio Sweden (it is called Radio Sweden på lätt svenska). It takes only 2-3 minutes to listen to a news each day, yet it has helped me a lot to improve my listening.
What I like with this way of learning are: (1) Beside learning Swedish, I understand what is happening in Sweden through listening to the important news; (2) The radio provides the text. So whenever I found it hard to listen, I could see the text to understand the context, then I tried to listen once again; (3) It is only 2-3 minutes everyday, but it was soo beneficial for me. I listened to it every time I was commuting to the city.
2. Borrowing and reading easy Swedish books from public library
Reading Swedish books really helped me to expand my Swedish vocabulary. In the beginner level, I borrowed books from public library in “lättläst” section (lättläst means easy to read). Even in the “lättläst” section, there are several levels like very easy, easy, easy-yet-not-very-easy, etc. You can ask the librarian about which level suits you best!
What I like with this learning method are: (1) There are a lot of popular novels that have been rewritten in easy Swedish! I began with a novel written by Jane Austen. I had ever read that novel in English, then I read it in easy Swedish version; (2) Borrowing books from public library is free and you can borrow as many as you want to; (3) Some of the books have eBook and audio book versions, so you can read the book and listen to the audio at the same time; (4) Public library is everywhere!
3. Watching film series, news, etc in Swedish
I love SVT play! It is a streaming service provided by Sveriges Television. You can access it with your mobile phones, computer, or TV. There you can watch drama, documentaries, reality shows, news, etc in Swedish. What I like the most is that they provide Swedish subtitles. So you can enjoy watching a film or everything you want, listen to what they are talking in Swedish, and read the Swedish text at the same time. I found it very useful and enjoyable! By the way, I did not learn Swedish slang words from my Swedish courses; Yet, through watching Swedish series, I did learn some :p
Beside SVT play, there are several other streaming services in Sweden. Some of them are paid services. You can just google it, then you’ll know various streaming services in Sweden.
4. Singing (and memorizing) Swedish songs
Since I was little, song has been my best way to memorize something. I remember my childhood when I had to remember all rivers’ names in Indonesia for my exam, my mom created a song to help me memorize it. And I remember all those names until now haha.. So in my journey to learn Swedish, I also learned it through singing and memorizing songs. Since I have two kids with me, most of the songs I learned were children songs 🙂 If you are familiar with old songs, you can sing songs recorded by ABBA such as “I have a dream” and “dancing queen” in Swedish.
5. Practicing your Swedish with Swedes
Having a conversation with my friends from Swedish course with similar level of Swedish skills is always nice. I have three close friends from my Swedish course, we usually hang out twice a month, and talk in Swedish. That’s a way I practice my Swedish language. However, I think, it is also nice to practice it with native Swedish speakers, because then I learn some new words, some new expressions or phrases and ,of course, their melodic speaking! You can try to ask your classmates or your neighbors who are Swedes to speak Swedish with you. In my experience, they really appreciate it if someone tries to speak Swedish.
That was my experience in learning Swedish. I hope you find it useful!