Studying a foreign language makes your brain grow

If you need some extra motivational factors to keep your Swedish lessons going, then how about this one: a new study shows that studying a foreign language actually makes your brain grow.

The study compared language students who studied a foreign language full time with students who studied other topics full time (for ex medical students). Their brains were scanned before and after a 3 month intensive study period.

Whereas the other students’ brains were unchanged, the language students’ brains had increased in volume in specific areas: the hippocampus and three areas of the cerebral cortex.

Students with larger increases of volume in hippocampus and superior temporal gyrus (a part of cerebral cortex associated with language learning) did better in the language classes. Students who found the language learning process harder had a larger volume increase in the “motorical part” of cerebral cortex (middle frontal gyrus).

All in all, the researchers conclude that their research demonstrate that foreign language learning is a good way of keeping your brain active. This is also further confirmed by previous studies that have shown that bi- and multilingual people develop Alzheimers later than other groups.

Read more about the study here and here.

Is Swedish hard to learn?

Is Swedish hard to learn?

Well, it depends, of course. It depends on what your native language is, and whether it is close to Swedish. So for example, if your native language is German, then Swedish will be quite easy to learn. It also depends on the complexity of the language. For an English speaker, Swedish is not that complex, compared to many other languages. Compared to English, the pronunciation may be a bit of a challenge. Swedish has a lot of vowels, in fact 9: a, e, i, o, u, y, å, ä, and ö. Swedish also has some particular sounds that do not sound quite like they are spelled (for ex: sj-, stj-, skj-). If you are not used to grammatical genders, the idea of using ‘en’ and ‘ett’ in front of the nouns seem weird to start with. And when you learn more about the grammar, you will find out that the concept of en and ett can also be seen on other words in the language – they kind of ‘rub off’ on other words (adjectives and possessive pronouns, typically).

It of course also depends on how much time you devote per week to studying Swedish (the more often you study, the quicker you will learn), what resources you have available and your motivation for studying.

According to The Foreign Service Institute of the U.S. Department of State, Swedish is in fact on of the easier languages to learn. Good news! If you are a native English speaker, it should take you approximately 575-600 class hours to learn Swedish to a proficient level. This is relatively easy, compared to some of the hardest languages – for example Japanese, Arabic and Chinese will take approximately 2,200 class hours to learn!

Also, have a look at the blog post I have written previously about how many hours it takes to learn Swedish.


Christmas gift – Swedish Lesson

Want to give someone a Swedish Lesson as a Christmas Gift?

No problems!

Email us on and let me know the person’s name, and we will send you payment details. You pay for the lesson (£27 GBP), tell them to contact us to book the lesson themselves. We’ll give you a pdf voucher that you can print out and wrap up.

Lätt som en plätt! Easy peasy!

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Sexy in Swedish

Today, I (Anneli) am a proud guest blogger on Livefluent, a community website for language learners.

When you are learning Swedish, chances are that the course books include everyday language that is very helpful for getting by in Sweden in general.

However, you will probably not find intimate and sexy phrases in these types of books. Therefore, I wrote a little blog post with some useful phrases that you can use when getting intimate with a Swede.

Best of luck and enjoy! 😉


New book – Teach Yourself Complete Swedish

Teach Yourself Complete Swedish – to be published 8 March 2018

Some of you may know that I, Anneli, have been writing on a completely new version of Teach Yourself Complete Swedish (Hodder and Stoughton) for the past couple of years. Today, I am delighted to share with you that the book is finally out on Amazon for pre-order, the publication date is 8 March 2018. Very exciting times!

The book starts from scratch on beginner level A1, and then moves on quite quickly to A2, and finishes around B2-level. It is basically a beginners to intermediate book, in the usual Teach Yourself format that this series offer.

I’ll talk more in detail about the book later on, but for now, check out the nice cover on Amazon. 🙂


5 Reasons To Avoid Google Translate When Learning a Language

Ever used Google Translate? Technology and the Internet is great, right? There is so much information available by a simple click of a button. Google Translate is a tool that may at first seem helpful when learning a new language. However, there are some issues with using Google Translate as a tool in your language studies. Here are Swedish teacher Daniel’s top 5 reasons for why you should avoid using it when learning a language.

  1. Google Translate is a blunt tool

Translation from one language to another is not simply about translating word for word (‘direct translation’). You need to also translate according to grammatical, idiomatic and cultural patterns, which may mean that a sentence might look quite different in terms of the actual words, but mean the same thing. A quick look at direct translations of sayings illustrate this point.

The Vauquois triangle (below) shows different levels of translation. The higher up in the pyramid, the more precise the translation. The highest level of translation (‘interlingua’) is still an issue in Google Translate, which means sentences will still contain errors (sometimes grammatical, and often idiomatic).

Google translate is built on an algorithm that has access to a large amount of texts written in two languages, which allows for a basis on which to predict and make guesses. Translation is made sentence by sentence; the more text available, the better the predictions. The issue here is that a translation with 90% correct translation can still turn out as a result which is 100% wrong. On top of this, there are many poorly translated texts now on the Internet (many of them have used Google Translate). This means that they are now in ‘the system’ and have become part of the basis from which Google Translate predicts, making the errors self-enhancing and re-occurring.

Learning a language is like going on a long journey: you’re planning for the whole trip, preparing for bad weather, and you need routines. Google Translate stops your progress even if you don’t notice at first. When you do, however, you might have to turn back and choose a different road.

  1. You can’t trick anyone (at least not your teacher!)

A teacher’s job is to know their subject, but it’s also to know their student. They identify the student’s level, where they’re going, and how to help them reach the finishing line. While your teacher knows how intelligent you are, that perfect paragraph with no spelling errors is not your writing and hasn’t even been taught by your teacher yet.

  1. No learning

To learn anything from the beginning is an uphill struggle against waning willpower and outside influences. Don’t let Google Translate be part of that negative influence. Use a real dictionary, if you must.

  1. Learning from mistakes is essential learning

In learning, mistakes are the key ingredients to understanding what is correct. You don’t bake the perfect cake on your first try; maybe not even after your hundredth try. But each time you prepare the next batch of batter, you change something to avoid making the same mistake.

Google Translate doesn’t teach you the nuances of language. A particular sentence can be written in different ways, depending on context, and that is what your teacher will show. We all desire flawless work, but that has to be set aside while learning the language.

  1. Your writing is your reward

The feeling of personal satisfaction is more than ample reward for all the sweating, flicking through pages, and trying to make sense of something you previously knew nothing about. The glint in a student’s eye when they are able to produce a paragraph in Swedish is priceless, and doubly so when it’s written independently.

To book a lesson with a Swedish teacher, go to our booking system to check availability.