5 ways to stay motivated

One of the most difficult aspects of learning a language is keeping up your motivation. So many of my students go through patches of lacking in motivation, and when you do it is easy to fall out of routine altogether, coming up with reasons not to learn (too much on at work, not enough time, etc), and the learning process might even grind to a halt completely.

In this blog post, I wanted to talk a bit about motivation and give you some hands on tips on how to stay motivated.

Internal vs external motivation

Internal motivation is basically enjoyment. It is the satisfaction of making progress, enjoying the learning journey, feeling curious and open, enjoying learning new pieces of information, feeling satisfied when understanding something tricky.

External motivation is some kind of reward, which could be real or symbolic. It could be achieving good results in a test, it might be the prestige in being fluent, or the rewards in being able to communicate with extended family and friends perhaps. The issue with external motivation is that it can lead to a situation where learners are learning even though they don’t actually enjoy it. It is therefore better to focus mainly on making sure your internal motivation is nice and strong!

How can we work on our internal motivation?

1. Make positive associations

Connect Swedish with your other interests. If you like politics, read the news headlines on dn.se or svd.se. Now is a particularly interesting time in Swedish politics, following the general election. Are you interested in history? Look into the history of Sweden. Like baking? Learn how to bake cinnamon buns, and translate a recipe from Swe to Eng. If you like music, research music with Swedish lyrics and try and translate them, and of course – sing along! I have a playlist on Spotify that you can have a look at: http://open.spotify.com/user/browwn/playlist/1ielXWVCjGa7cvYad7xWPc

Also try and associate learning Swedish with your favourite activities and places. Put a Swedish podcast on when you’re running, for example. Watch movies and tv series in Swedish. Look at youtube for Swedish clips. Go to sr.se (Swedish radio) and listen live or download a podcast. The channel P1 is news, current affairs, debates and culture. P2 is classical and jazz music. P3 is pop music and programmes for a younger audience. P4 is local radio stations. It’s worth checking out the programme Klartext, which is a daily news bulletin in easier Swedish (shorter sentences, reduced vocab). There is also a brilliant app for smartphones, called SR Play.

2. Don’t give up

You need a holistic and realistic view of the learning process. Many language learners start out with high hopes for achieving fluency fast, but their enthusiasm quickly dips when they find themselves making the same mistakes again and again, and maybe speak in an (often self-perceived) embarrassing accent.

This is definitely not the time to throw in the towel and admit defeat! These errors are 100% normal and actually a part of the progress. It is therefore EXTREMELY important to remember this:

Language-learning errors are not a negative reflection on your intelligence!

Instead, learn to love your errors. They are your friends, they bring you step by step closer to fluency and confidence. Smile, and learn from them.

3. Remember why you started

Was it to be able to speak more with colleagues at work? Or with your in-laws? Or to be able to at some point move to Sweden? Or to be able to speak like Saga Noren in The Bridge, just because it’s a cool thing to be able to do? Or because it’s cooler and more unusual than just learning Spanish or Mandarin?

Remind yourself now, maybe even write yourself a little e-mail to yourself with  http://m.futureme.org/ to remind yourself in 6 month’s time.

4. Explore ways to monitor progress

The thing with learning in general, is that it’s hard to sense progress. This is because of something I call “Moving Goal Posts”. Just as you have mastered one grammatical aspect and feel quite pleased about that, you turn a page and realise a whole damn new section that you didn’t even know before! The goal post is constantly moving. As Einstein himself said: “the more I learn the more I realise how little I know”. This is completely as it should be, it’s part of learning.

However, what is worth doing, is to capture your level at certain points, so you have something to compare with. If you are following some kind of course, this will probably be included anyway. Writing exercises that you can look back at in 3 months time. Why not make a short audio recording on your mobile phone or computer? No one needs to know, but you can go back in a year’s time and see how much you have progressed.

5. Consider not having a schedule

I know it may seem sloppy or disorganised somehow in our society to not have a schedule, we are extremely goal oriented as a society. The problem is that having a too strict schedule can make learning a language into a chore. Chores = boring = less internal motivation and less likelihood to succeed.

Learning a language is a bit like going to the gym. You won’t notice immediate effect, and you’ll have good days and bad days. You can’t just work out like mad for 6 months and then go couch potato for 2 years and expect the same level of fitness throughout. But if you work on it regularly, you will notice a difference over weeks and months. Expecting quick improvements is to expect too much from your brain, it’s simply unrealistic. Learning a language is more like a marathon than a sprint, and remember that a flood is made up of raindrops!

Some more useful tips:

  • svt.se (Swedish television, some programmes are available outside of Sweden)
  • TV4play and Kanal5play for smartphones
  • 8sidor.se (notice especially their “Lyssna” feature in the left-hand side menu)

In the next week or so, I will post a list of some great Swedish films and tv series that are worth a watch.

Fancy booking lessons? The usual block offer of 9 for £199 (12 weeks) is still available. That’s exactly until Xmas! ;)

http://swedishmadeeasy.com/book-a-lesson/

 

 

Interview with a Swedish learner – Carolina

Carolina comes from Spain, from a small town close to Barcelona. She did her PhD in Barcelona and moved to Umeå after that to work as a postdoc. Her research is focused on environmental radioactivity and peatlands. But that is not her only interests! She likes doing a lot of other (and, maybe, more normal) things.

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During her free time she usually makes handmade crafts and also enjoys painting. She says she is not an expert but feels it is a nice way to relax and not think about science. She also really likes nature and tries to go hiking as often as she can. She is someone who likes smiling every single day and appreciates the small things in this world.

 

 

What led you to want to learn Swedish?

I got a position at the University of Umeå and moved there. Although all the Swedish researchers and employees speak perfect English, they usually talk in Swedish over fika or lunch time. Moreover, all the official documents and information that you get is in Swedish, as well as signs, labels in the products that you find at the supermarket, etc. So, I started to learn Swedish to understand what happens around me! And I also think that learning the culture and the language of the country were you are is quite interesting!

When and how did you start learning Swedish?

I started to learn Swedish as soon as I arrived to Sweden. The university offer some courses for free. But I thought that only one hour per week was not enough and I decided to take a course downtown which took place twice per week and two hours per lesson, and also some one-to-one lessons via Skype with Anneli.

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

I use the Swedish language every day. I try to talk to my colleagues and my boss at work and to some friends who know that I want to learn. I also try to write emails in Swedish. I force myself doing that because I think that trying and practising is the best method to learn a language. Maybe you make mistakes but realizing and correcting them is the best way for learning.

What have been the challenges for you in learning Swedish?

It has been a bit difficult for me to learn it since Swedish is completely different that Spanish. And it’s still hard because you realize how many dialects are here. But understanding official documents or meetings have been quite hard. The challenge maybe is also finding motivation sometimes and be consistent in your studies!

What is your proudest moment as a Swedish speaker?

My proudest moment as a Swedish speaker (and I will always remember this) is when I answered the phone in the office for the first time! When you talk to someone it is easier to understand because of the body language. But by phone… ufff! But I could understand and answer!! And I remember that, as soon as I hung up the phone, I ran to my colleagues and boss saying: I answered the phone in Swedish!!! I was soooo proud of 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!)

Rivstart is a really good book to learn Swedish.

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

Mmm I am quite bad with that… But the best option for me to learn Swedish is talking to Swedes!

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

My advice would say: Dont be shy and talk! Talk even you know that your Swedish is not perfect. I always say: “Hi! I am Carolina and my Swedish is maybe not so good. But I would like to try!” And Swedes are happy when they see that you are trying to learn Swedish. So… try try and try!

Artist home in Stockholm for rent in July

Hej!

A family member is renting out their lovely 1 bed flat in Stockholm from 22 June and throughout the whole of July. This artist home close to trendy Södermalm, Swedish nature, lakes and with a communal roof terrace with 360 panoramic views is the perfect spot for your holiday in Stockholm!

Living space and separate bed room

Living space and separate bed room, with unique curved wall

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open plan kitchen/living area

  • Price per week: 5000 SEK (appr 450 GBP/550 EUR/750 USD)
  • Price per weekend (Fri-Sun): 3000 SEK (appr 270 GBP/330 EUR/450 USD)
  • Deposit: 1000 SEK (appr 90 GBP/110 EUR/150 USD) – to be refunded as long as the flat is returned as you found it :)
  • Including bedding, sheets, towels, basic kitchen items (a pint of milk, tea, coffee, salt, pepper, sugar etc)
Communal roof terrace with west-facing panoramic views over Södermalm (where the sun sets)

Communal roof terrace – west-facing panoramic views over Södermalm (where the sun sets)

  • 1 double bedroom
  • open plan kitchen/living space
  • 1 bathroom with bathtub, shower and washing machine
  • fully furnished
  • TV, wifi
  • in Sickla (click for Google map) - walking distance to Hammarby sjöstad (Eco town, 5 min) and trendy Södermalm (30 min). Regular buses to Slussen/Old town (10 min journey), bus stop only 2 min walk from flat.
  • designated parking space included
  • communal roof terrace with 360 panoramic views over Södermalm to the west and Nacka nature reserve to the east
double bed

double bed

Study area in bedroom with beautiful curved wall, door to the kitchen/living area

Study area in bedroom with beautiful curved wall, door to the kitchen/living area

Beautiful nature reserve just outside the flat (Nackareservatet) with a golf course. Lake beach minutes away.

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Sickla beach, family friendly beach 2 min walk from flat

Large shopping centre 10 min walk (Sickla köpkvarter), with shops, restaurants, cafés, Systembolaget and more.

  • Payment policy: full payment no less than 14 days in advance
  • Cancellation policy: more 7 days before: 500 sek cancellation fee plus full refund. less than 7 days in advance no refund.

If you are interested, contact me ASAP.

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Bright summer eve at 10 pm, looking out from Mosebacke bar on Södermalm

Restaurant Göteborg in Hammarby Eco Town, only 5 min walk from the flat

Restaurant Göteborg in Hammarby Eco Town, only 5 min walk from the flat

Beautiful Södermalm

Beautiful Södermalm

 

The day of the semla

Fettisdagen is the Swedish Shrove Tuesday/Pancake Day/Mardi Gras, and the thing to eat today in Sweden is “semla” - a cardamom-spiced wheat bun which has its top cut off, and is then filled with a mix of milk and almond paste, topped with whipped cream. The cut-off top serves as a lid and is dusted with powdered sugar. It is often eaten on its own, with coffee or tea.

Are you having a semla today? Here’s me having mine last Saturday.

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The Bridge, Nordicana and Scandimania

I think there is a current obsession about everything Scandi this weekend! Last night saw the finale of series 2 of The Bridge – the Swedish/Danish crime drama set in Malmö and Copenhagen. The series has attracted a considerable amount of praise in media, with many journalists and reviewers comparing it to The Wire and other high quality tv series (spoiler alert via the links below!).

http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2014/jan/31/the-bridge-kim-bodnia-darkness-misery

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2550066/Terrorists-dressed-animal-heads-modern-plague-sex-mad-Swedish-detective-The-Bridge-just-cop-Jim-Shelley.html

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This weekend has also been the weekend of the Nordicana festival in London, and this evening Channel 4 showed a programme called Scandimania.

It’s fascinating to see the interest in Nordic culture abroad, and I really hope it also means more people are getting interesting in learning the Swedish language. In which case I’m here to help! :)