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!

 

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