Welcome Amanda – conversational trainer

Skype-fika seems to be a sought after service here at Swedish Made Easy! So much so, that we now introduce another conversational trainer: Amanda. She will be available to book for some Skype-fika (conversational training).

Skype-fika does not include specific grammar training, but it is a chance to increase your confidence in speaking, by speaking with a native Swede, who will of course help you with new words, correct pronunciation and grammar glitches. You should be on at least B1-level to do conversational practice with Amanda. You book her through the booking system.

fullsizerender-1

Here are a few words from Amanda:

My name is Amanda, and I offer Skype-fika; conversational training. I grew up in Sweden in a small town called Lindesberg, though I have my roots in Stockholm and in Jukkasjärvi. I live in Exeter in the U.K now since a couple of years back, and I lived in Colchester when I was studying at university. I have always had a great interest in and passion for language and literature, and I have a BA in both Creative Writing and Literature. I currently work for a travel company called Risskov, and I also work with ceramics and art. My wife and I also have two crazy happy dogs, a hamster and a big stash of yarn since we are both avid knitters. I love talking to people about anything and everything, and I can’t wait to have a chat with you at a fika! Because of my flexible schedule, I’ll be offering fika almost all times of the day.

Jag heter Amanda, och jag erbjuder Skype-fika; konversationsträning. Jag är uppvuxen i Sverige i en liten stad som heter Lindesberg, fast jag har mina rötter i Stockholm och Jukkasjärvi. Nu bor jag i Exeter i England sedan ett par år tillbaka, och jag bodde i Colchester medan jag pluggade på universitetet. Jag har alltid haft ett stort intresse och passion för språk och litteratur, och jag har universitetsexamen i både Creative Writing och litteraturvetenskap. Just nu jobbar jag för ett resebolag som heter Risskov, och jag jobbar också med keramik och konst. Min fru och jag har två galna glada hundar, en hamster och ett stort lager garn eftersom vi båda älskar att sticka. Jag älskar att prata med folk om allt och inget, och jag ser verkligen fram emot att prata med dig över en fika! Tack vare mitt flexibla schema, så kommer jag erbjuda fika nästan alla tider under dagen.

Welcome Daniel – Swedish teacher

Swedish Made Easy is growing and we now have a new teacher onboard. I am very pleased to introduce Daniel Lind, who from now on will work as a Swedish teacher at Swedish Made Easy.

Daniel comes from Göteborg in Sweden, and lives with his family in London, UK. He has
worked in education for over 8 years, and worked with students of all ages. He has a real passion for languages and has helped to improve literacy levels of children in secondary schools in London (and even helped a school to set up a library!). He has taught Swedish to both children and adults since 2013. Daniel is also an author, and writes books and short stories in his free time (check it out!).

Daniel will be available for Skype Swedish lessons via the booking system, under “Swedish with Daniel”, and he teaches all levels – from beginner to advanced.

14962990_10154660030213735_856244307_n

 

Welcome Jessica – conversational trainer

Today, we welcome a new trainer to Swedish Made Easy – Jessica! She will be available to book for some Skype-fika (conversational training) a couple of hours a week.
Skype-fika does not include specific grammar training, but it is a chance to increase your confidence in speaking, by speaking with a native Swede. You should be on at least B1-level to do conversational practice with Jessica. You book her through the booking system.
Here are a few words from Jessica:
*
Hej!

Jag heter Jessica och är född och uppvuxen i Stockholm med rötter i Österrike. Lyckligt gift med barn. Med tre språk flytande i bagaget har människor och kommunikation alltid varit av intresse i olika sammanhang. Som ambassadör för ”The Swedish Number” så pratade jag med folk från hela världen vilket jag tyckte var spännande och kul. Jag har bott utomlands i både Tyskland och Österrike i olika perioder av mitt liv.

12748117_10154000986042372_6885427495407892589_o

Jag vet hur svårt det kan vara att hitta rätt ord och utrycka sig, men även hur underbart det är när man kommit över tröskeln. Jag jobbar med ekonomi inom underhållningsindustrin på ett företag i Stockholm (SoFo). När jag reser så föredrar jag att besöka storstäder och sol med bad, att tälta är inget för mig. Långa promenader med snabba steg är något jag gärna gör så ofta jag kan.

Jag är en god lyssnare och pratar gärna med dig, men med ett varierande morgonhumör hoppas jag att vi hörs senare på dagen 🙂

Hoppas vi ses!

//Jessica

My name is Jessica and I am born and bred in Stockholm with roots in Austria. Happily married with a child. Having three fluent languages under my belt, people and communication have always been an interest of mine in various contexts. When I worked as an ambassador for “The Swedish Number“, I spoke to people from all over the world, which I found fascinating and fun. I have lived abroad, both in Germany and Austria, through different periods in my life.
I know how difficult it can be to find the right words and express yourself, but also how amazing it is when you succeed. I work in finance in the entertainment industry for a company in Stockholm (SoFo). When I travel, I prefer to visit cities and beaches to soak up some sun, camping is not my cup of tea. I go for long, fast-paced walks as often as possible.
I am a good listener, and I would love to talk to you, although given my varied morning mood, I hope that we can chat later on in the day. 🙂
*

Astrid Lindgren läser sagor på Spotify

Astrid Lindgren’s own readings of some of her most-loved stories are available on Spotify. Listen to Astrid herself reading her stories.

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 13.11.37

The following stories are available:

Nils Karlsson-Pyssling a boy the size of a thumb who lives under the boy Bertil's bed

Nils Karlsson-Pyssling a boy the size of a thumb who lives under the boy Bertil’s bed

Ronja, a girl who grows up among a clan of robbers living in a castle in the woodlands of early-Medieval Scandinavia

Ronja, a girl who grows up among a clan of robbers living in a castle in the woodlands of early-Medieval Scandinavia

Bröderna Lejonhjärta, the story of two brothers who fight tyranny, death and disease, but it is also a story of loyalty, hope, courage and pacifism.

Bröderna Lejonhjärta, the story of two brothers who fight tyranny, death and disease, but it is also a story of loyalty, hope, courage and pacifism.

Madicken, a 7 year-old middle-class girl growing up in  Sweden during World War I.

Madicken, a 7 year-old middle-class girl growing up in Sweden during World War I.

Mio min mio, the story about the adopted boy Bosse who finds a genie in a bottle who whisks him off to another land where his real father is the king.

Mio min mio, the story about the adopted boy Bosse who finds a genie in a bottle who whisks him off to another land where his real father is the king.

Emil, the story of the little naughty but resourceful boy who lives on a farm in Småland.

Emil, the story of the naughty but resourceful boy who lives on a farm in Småland.

Rasmus, the boy who runs away from an orphanage and meets the tramp Oskar.

Rasmus, the boy who runs away from an orphanage and meets the tramp Oskar.

There is also some interviews with Astrid about her life as an author and her books.

An absolute treasure! What are you waiting for? 🙂

The Swedish Name Day

One learner recently asked me about the Swedish Name day. Anyone who has seen a Swedish calendar, may have seen names next to each date. Usually 1 or 2. This is called “Namnsdag” – name day. Apparently, it was traditionally a way to keep track of dates by using names instead of number-based dates (so farmers knew when to plan their crops, among other things). However, these traditions have somewhat been lost following several name day reforms.

In Sweden today, it is common to celebrate a person on their name day. You may get them a card, a cake, some other little present, or perhaps just say “Grattis på namnsdagen”. The tradition of celebrating name days came about because of the Christian church tradition (or so the Swedish wikipedia tells me). Apparently, celebrations of birthdays were viewed as pagan and anti-Christian, whereas celebrating the name day was more accepted, due to its links to church and baptism.

Here is a list of all Swedish name days in the calendar. Oh, and by the way, the name day for Anneli is 21st of April, so it is actually today! 😉

Screen Shot 2015-12-31 at 15.37.45

The Swedish Number – ring Sverige!

250 years ago, Sweden was the first country to abolish censorship. Now, to celebrate this, Sweden is the first country that has its own phone number.

The Swedish Number is a campaign by the Swedish Tourism Board that allows anyone, anywhere in the world, to dial in and be connected to a random Swede.

Do you want to know what happened when some Americans tried it out? Read more here.

the swedish number

the swedish number

 

Hen – the debated Swedish pronoun

You may have heard of the gender neutral Swedish pronoun “hen”. It has been debated in Sweden during the past couple of years, and some people feel strongly about it. So what’s the fuss all about?

“Han” means singular he, and “hon” means singular she. But what if you don’t know the gender of a person? Or if it is irrelevant? Consider a situation where you say you need to book an appointment at the dentist, and you hope that he/she/the dentist will be able to help you with your toothache.

You may not want to assume that the dentist is a woman nor a man. The “s/he” is pretty clunky (especially in speech – how on earth do you pronounce “s/he”?!), and to say “the dentist” again just sounds repetitive. So what can you say? In English, you can of course say “they” – you hope that they will help you with your toothache. However, in Swedish, you do not use the third person plural for a singular person – you cannot say “de” in this case.

Lately, a new, gender-neutral pronoun has started to become more popular in Sweden – hen. The pronoun hen is defined as a “proposed gender-neutral personal pronoun instead of han and hon”. Even though this is a relatively new phenomenon in Swedish, several languages have gender neutral pronouns. Finnish, for example, only has gender neutral pronouns!

The book “Kivi och Monsterhund” came out earlier this year, and it is the first book that only uses hen – instead of han and hon. And the book has caused a widespread debate in Sweden.

Screen Shot 2015-12-31 at 15.19.58

The author, Jesper Lundqvist, wanted to write a book for children – rather than for girls or boys, and that was the main reason why he used “hen” in his book. He said he found it liberating to write directly to children, without having to think about all the stereotypical associations that surround boys and girls. Jesper says that some have misunderstood the whole idea of hen, and thought of it as a way of replacing han and hon. But this is not correct. Rather, it is more about having an “extra tool in the tool box”, linguistically speaking. (http://www.gp.se/nyheter/sverige/1.874481-sa-borjade-debatten-om-hen?)

What do you think to the idea of having a gender-neutral pronoun? Useful? Unnecessary? Feel free to comment below.  

Semlor – baka dina egna (how to bake your own semlor)

Have you tried semlor? It’s that time of year again! Tomorrow Tuesday is the day of the Semla. Semlor (plural, semla in singular) are cardamom-scented-cream-and-almond-paste-filled-buns commonly available from the official end of the Christmas season (tjugondag Knut on January 13th) until Easter although originally they were only eaten every Tuesday from Shrove Tuesday (Fat Tuesday) until Easter. Nowadays, well… let’s say we eat them a bit more often during this period of the year.

Here is my recipe for semlor

Ingredienser:

  • 75 gram smör
  • 2,5 dl mjölk
  • 25 gram jäst
  • 2 krm salt
  • 0,5 dl socker
  • 1 tsk stött kardemumma
  • 8 dl vetemjöl (ca 500 gram)
  • 1 ägg till pensling

Fyllning till semlorna:

  • 200 gram mandelmassa eller marsipan
  • 1 dl grädde eller mjölk att ha i mandelmassan
  • 3 dl vispgrädde att vispa
  • 0,5 dl florsocker att pudra semlorna med

Gör så här:

1. Mal kardemumman

2. Aktivera jästen (om du behöver – gör som det står på jästpaketet). Blanda ihop mjöl, socker, salt, och kardemumma. Tillsätt mjölk, jäst, och smält smör.

3. Blanda till en deg. Låt degen jäsa i 45 min, under en handduk.

4. Dela degen i 12 delar. Baka ut till små runda bullar. Lägg bullarna på bakplåtspapper. Låt bullarna jäsa i 30 min, under en handduk.

5. Sätt ugnen på 220 grader. Rör ihop ett ägg, och pensla ägg-mixen på bullarna. Grädda bullarna i ugnen i ca 8 minuter, tills de fått en gyllenbrun färg.

6. Under tiden, riv marsipanen. Tillsätt 1 dl mjölk eller grädde. Låt mixen stå ett tag.

7. Ta ut bullarna ur ugnen, låt dem svalna under en handduk.

8. Skär ut locket på bullarna, och skrapa ut smulorna inuti. Tillsätt smulorna i marsipan-mixen.

9. Lägg i marsipan-mixen i bullarna.

10. Vispa lite grädde, och lägg grädden på marsipan-mixen. Lägg sedan locket på, och pudra lite med florsocker. Tadaaa! Klart!

Or you could just buy some semla in any café in Sweden, or maybe at Scandinavian Kitchen in London if you are there?

Swedish vowels – hard and soft

Swedish vowels

As you may already know, the Swedish language has 9 vowels: A, E, I, O, U, Y (note that y is always a vowel in Swedish!), Å, Ä, and Ö. However, there is another way of grouping the vowels, rather than just alphabetically – according to whether they are soft or hard. Categorising vowels in this way will help with the pronunciation of many words in Swedish, as it can give you clues on how to say certain words.

Screen Shot 2015-12-31 at 15.00.54

Hard and soft vowels

When I say that vowels are either hard or soft, what I actually mean is that different vowels will affect certain consonants before them – giving the consonants either a soft or a hard pronunciation. So, actually, it is not the vowels themselves that are pronounced in a soft or hard way, but instead they affect consonants to be pronounced in a soft or hard way. And which consonants will they affect? They will affect words beginning with K-, G- and SK-.

This actually happens in English too. Just compare how you say “café” and “city”. The words both begin with C, but they are pronounced differently. From a Swedish language perspective, I would say that “café” has a hard kind of C, whereas “city” has a soft-sounding C. Another example is the different pronunciation of G in the words “guest” and “gist”, where I would say “guest” has a hard-sounding G and “gist” is soft. So let’s see how this works in Swedish.

Soft vowels: E, I, Y, Ä and Ö

Hard vowels: A, O, U, and Å

If you have any of the so-called soft vowels following either K-, G- or SK-, these consonants change to a softer sounding sound.

For example:

G- : göra (to do) – is pronounced with a soft “y” sounding sound: “yöööra, whereas gammal (old) – is pronounced with a hard-sounding G, a bit like in the name Gandalf.

K- : köpa (to buy) – is pronounced with a soft sounding “ch”: “chööpa”, whereas kan (able to/can) – is pronounced with a hard k, like in the English “can”.

SK- : sked (spoon) – is pronounced with a soft sounding sound, the same as in the number 7 (sju): “scheeed”, whereas skola (school) – is pronounced hard, like it reads (a separate s followed by a separate hard k): “skola”.

Because of theses pronunciation rules, there are some Swedish words that seem familiar to the English ear, and may even mean the same thing, but will be pronounced differently. I call these types of words “false friends” – they seem easy and familiar, but are in fact something else. For example:

kilo – means the same thing, a measure of weight, but is pronounced soft because of the I: “chiiilo”

sky – means sky in Swedish too, but is pronounced soft and with a long Swedish Y (like an English “ee” but with a more trumpet/forward-shaped mouth): “schyyy”

sko – means shoe, but this one is hard, because of the O: “skooo”

Of course, there are some exceptions, as always. Look out for the words “kille” (guy – should theoretically be soft, but we pronounce it hard), and “kö” (queue – again, should theoretically be soft, but is instead hard). Many of my students also struggle with the word “människa” (person, human being), and try to pronounce it as it reads, although we actually pronounce this “sk” in a soft way: “männischa”.

To hear a bit more about the hard and soft vowels, have a look at this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vy1t0BonlJQ&feature=plcp

 

Swedish Exam – Känner du till SWEDEX?

Swedish Exam (aka SWEDEX)

Do you know of SWEDEX? It an internationally recognised Swedish language exam, and it relates to the Common European Framework of Reference For Languages. You can currently take the exam at 3 different levels: A2, B1 and B2. Swedex is approved by the government body the Swedish Institute and can be taken irrespective of how you have learnt Swedish. The exam tests knowledge that can be applied in practice within all kinds of language proficiency: speaking, reading, listening and writing. The test can be taken both in and outside Sweden, in 92 cities, in 32 countries.

swedex_logo_webb

It is usable proof if you for example want to work in Sweden, continue your studies in Swedish or follow education in Swedish that does not require more advanced language knowledge. Swedex B1 approximately corresponds to the level for Sfi, course D. However, an important difference is that the Sfi exam tests whether you have passed a specific course while this exam tests general knowledge of Swedish.

You pay to take the test, but the cost varies depending on the examination centre. Here is a list of all examination centres, and you can contact them directly to find out how much they charge.

The test takes between 2 and 4 hours, depending on the level you are testing for. You have to manage at least 60% on both the written and the oral parts in order to pass. If you have failed a module, you have failed the exam in its entirety. This means you have to take the whole exam again next time.

I am a qualified test leader for level A2, B1 and B2, which means I am able to help any learners who want to study towards a test.

Have a look here to read more about the test, and you can also find mock exams here, so you can test your current level.