Interview with a Swedish learner – Jamie

This week’s interviewee is Jamie. He is 36 years old and from Ottawa, Canada. He moved to Stockholm in 2015 after meeting his wife. In some ways he says he is a typical Canadian- he loves Hockey and Maple Syrup!

He also loves his adopted homeland Sweden. He received his citizenship in 2018 and feels really proud to call Sweden home. According to Jamie, Sweden is a wonderful country, has wonderful people and beautiful nature. Jamie works at a tech company as their CSR Manager and also has his own hockey podcast which he does together with his wife.

What led you to want to learn Swedish?

I moved to Sweden in 2015 after I met my wife. I wanted to be able to speak Swedish so that all of her friends and family wouldn’t always have to switch the English whenever I was around. Plus I knew I would make this country my home so it was important for me to “come into Swedish society”, this can only be done by having an understanding of the language.

When and how did you start learning Swedish?

I started by going to SFI the first 2 months. While that gave me a basic vocabulary and understanding of simple conversations, it was simply not enough to get really better at the language. With a combination of Swedish Made Easy and forcing myself to practice, I was able to very quickly handle daily personal/work life in Swedish

How much do you currently use the Swedish language, and why?

I only speak Swedish with my wife’s friends and family and at work, my team speaks only Swedish and I answer in either Swedish or English depending on how technical the subject is.

What have been the challenges for you in learning Swedish?

The biggest challenges are simply finding the time to practice and learn. Sometimes one can be so tired that its hard to find time to sit down and study. Skype lessons are great for this because it’s an hour of dedicated learning. Another big challenge is that Swedes love to speak English so one must work hard to get over the Swedish mentality of “lets just speak English”.

What is your proudest moment as a Swedish speaker?

I have 2 proudest moments: 1- the first Christmas after I moved here, speaking only Swedish with my wifes parents for the entire holiday. 2 – The first time I could be funny while speaking Swedish, felt like I could finally not just speak it but also be myself.

Can you recommend any Swedish books that are good for learning Swedish? (Could be course books, grammar books, novels, or children’s books – anything!)

Read as many lätt svensk books as you can- they are wonderful, like normal books but written in a more basic level of Swedish- I have read a lot of the Mankell books (Wallander). Its more manageable than trying to read a real book at the start.

Can you recommend any online/media resources for learning Swedish?

Hmmm, I don’t really use any.

Do you have any other advice for future, budding Swedish learners?

The biggest thing is you have to swallow your pride a little and accept that making mistakes and saying weird things is the price you pay for learning a new language. Its easy to be self-conscious when speaking a language at the start when you aren’t great at it- but honestly, people will never make fun of you, they appreciate that you are trying to learn their language. My wife, our friends and her family have all laughed together when I have said strange things- its hilarious and all part of the process. I feel compared to a lot of people, I was able to come into the language quite quick, I might not speak perfectly, but I understand everything and I can get my point across- the main reason for this has been my willingness to talk and practice in real situations. It gets easier every time.

This is also why Swedish Made Easy works so well- over time you develop a friendship with Anneli and Daniel and they become very easy to talk to because it’s a safe environment to practice and quite frankly make mistakes!

Writing and reading is also critical- pick up some lätt svensk books on your next vacation and just look up any words you don’t understand. Its great to see text written so you learn the nuances of the language, word order and expressions (there are tons in this language). Most of all remember why you wanted to learn Swedish and use that every day in your motivation!

 

Interview with a Swedish learner – Elena

Elena comes from Italy but has been living abroad for many years – right now her home is in Lund. She teaches Japanese online and she shares her experiences as an introvert language learner on hitoritabi.it. She likes dogs, fredagsmys and sunny days.

What led you to want to learn Swedish?

At first, I met some Swedes while living in Japan and I got fascinated by the sound of the language. I learnt some words and expressions just for fun.

A few years later, I had the chance to visit Sweden and meet some of those friends again. Finally, I got together with my now sambo and at the same time, I also got serious about learning Swedish.

When and how did you start learning Swedish?

I started about a year and a half ago. For a few months, I pretty much only used apps and learning Swedish wasn’t much of a commitment. Then, when I started planning to move to Sweden with my boyfriend, I began to study in a more structured way. I bought a couple of textbooks and then started to take weekly lessons with Anneli to practice regularly and get extra support for my learning journey.

How much do you currently use the Swedish language, and why?

Since I moved to Sweden, 3 months ago, I’ve been using it in my everyday life. I also try to speak Swedish with my boyfriend’s family, though we switch to “Swenglish” from time to time, when the conversations get more complicated. I’m happy I took the time to learn the basics before coming here, so I don’t feel completely clueless in most social situations.

What have been the challenges for you in learning Swedish?

Probably keeping up with the speed of spoken Swedish. I sometimes find it hard to follow when someone talks full speed, and I most certainly can’t talk as fast as some Swedes do.

What is your proudest moment as a Swedish speaker?

Every time I speak Swedish in shops or restaurants and the other person doesn’t switch to English to talk to me. And also being quite good at answering the questions from the TV show “På spåret” despite the language being difficult for my current level.

Can you recommend any Swedish books that are good for learning Swedish? (Could be course books, grammar books, novels, or children’s books – anything!)

I enjoy learning with the Rivstart textbooks, they help you practice all of the skills in a balanced way. I like that the textbook is all in Swedish and that it gives ideas for conversation and discussion in each chapter. To keep my inner grammar-geek happy, I use Form i Fokus to review and get extra practice in tricky grammar topics.

Can you recommend any online/media resources for learning Swedish?

There are a few good courses for Swedish on Memrise. I would also recommend Babbel if you want to have more grammar explanations and examples. The website learningswedish.se is another tool I like, as well as the podcast Sfipodd.se if you want to hear some natural Swedish.

Do you have any other advice for future, budding Swedish learners?

Pick a few resources based on your needs and stick with them. There are always new apps and tools, but when you want to try everything the risk is to get overwhelmed instead. Study a little bit every day, it works better than having one 5-hour session once a week. Find activities that you enjoy and get to know a bit about the Swedish culture, discover things that make you passionate about it. Without a strong drive it’s easy to lose motivation, so keep reminding yourself every day why you’re learning. Lycka till!

 

Quick guide to Swedish weddings

Swedish wedding traditions

It’s summer in Sweden and that often means wedding season. In some ways, Swedish bröllop weddings can be quite different to weddings in other countries. So here’s your quick guide to Swedish traditions!

1. Bruden the bride and brudgummen the groom walk up the aisle together at the beginning of the ceremony. A bride walking in with her father is considered quite old-fashioned, and the Swedes don’t really like the idea of a woman being owned by a man. Therefore, it is quite common for the couple to walk in side by side.

2. Sometimes there is no maid of honour or best man. Some do have one or two brudtärnor bridesmaids, though, and perhaps a couple of marskalkar groomsmen.

3. At the reception, if lots of people tap their glasses, it doesn’t mean they want to make speeches.It means they want the bride and groom to kiss.

4. But you won’t go without speeches. Toastmasters will introduce each speech at the reception. All ten or twelve of them…

5. You’ll often receive a booklet at the reception with details about each guest, plus some fun bits about the couple, and song lyrics.

6. What happens on tour may not stay on tour. Because the hens and the stags will be giving a speech about each trip, and photos can (should?) be involved!

7. There will be songs. But don’t worry, there will be alcohol too!

8. There will be games. Mostly poking fun at the bride and groom. Audience participation (if only in the form of cheering) is mandatory.

9. Do not be alarmed if the bride and groom leave the room. If the bride leaves the room during the reception meal, all the women in the room must run up to the groom and kiss him on the cheek (just the cheek, please!). Ditto if the groom leaves the room, all the men must kiss the bride.

 

Får får får?

Hej! Daniel here. In this week’s blog post I’ll help you to make sense of the Swedish word får.

Får får får? is a Swedish pun that means “Do sheep get sheep?” (meaning Do sheep have (baby) sheep? or What’s the word for baby sheep?)

Many languages have what I call ‘hiccups’: words that can mean several things, depending on word order. And be put together to form a complete sentence.

I will quash this particular hiccup here and shed some light on its usage with the help of a few examples.

Får is the present tense verb of “receive” or “get” — Jag får en biljett till månen. (I receive/get a ticket to the moon). There is no other verb in this sentence.

Får is also the present tense auxiliary verb of “allowed” — Får människor åka till månen? (Are people allowed to travel to the moon?). The main verb here is åka (go).

Ja, människor får åka till månen. — (Yes, people are allowed to travel to the moon). Får is an auxiliary verb because it comes after the noun människor, and is followed by the main verb åka, which always turns into its infinite form.

Makes sense so far? Good.

Få can show the amount of a quantifiable noun but it’s important to look at the context and the sentence construction too because it could also be the infinitive form of the verb or an auxiliary verb respectively:

Få människor får åka till månen — (Few people are allowed to travel to the moon). The auxiliary verb får precedes the main verb åka. Compare this to the following sentence:

Att få åka till månen vore fantastiskt! — (To be allowed to travel to the moon would be fantastic!) Same få as before, but in the infinitive form. The key difference here is that there’s an att in front of the få, which works similar to the English “to”.

***

What about the elusive sheep then? In Swedish, the word for “sheep” is får. What if they somehow found a way to leave Earth?

Well, let’s try out a few sentences:

Får får åka till månen? — (Are sheep allowed to travel to the moon?). The sentence construction is identical to the example with humans, we just switch one word (människor and får).

Nej, får får inte åka till månen — (No, sheep are not allowed to travel to the moon). The auxiliary verb får comes after the subject får, and is followed by the main verb åka.

But what if sheep are allowed to travel to the moon? Let’s have a look:

Får får åka till månen. — (Sheep are allowed to travel to the moon). The only difference here is the punctuation. This is a statement, not a question.

Just like humans, however, only certain sheep are allowed to travel to the moon:

Få får får åka till månen — (Few sheep are allowed to travel to the moon). There’s no att present, which means it’s the Swedish word for few. It’s followed by the subject får, the auxiliary verb får, and lastly the main verb åka.

To explore verbs and more with me, book your lesson here. (We have a great summer offer on at the moment too: 15% off your first lesson with me until 31 July 2018!)

Oh, and by the way, the answer to the Swedish pun (Får får får? Do sheep get sheep?)  is Nej, får får lamm (No, sheep get lambs.).

Ha det gött! 

Daniel