Quick questions for Amanda

Amanda is a conversational trainer and she offers “Skype-fika”, which is an opportunity to get to practice improvised conversation with a native Swede. She grew fullsizerender-1up in Sweden in a small town called Lindesberg, though she has roots in Stockholm and in Jukkasjärvi (where the famous Ice Hotel is located). She now lives in Exeter in the U.K. Beyond having Skype-fika with people from all the corners of the world, she currently works for a travel company, and also works with ceramics and art. She and her wife have two dogs, a hamster and a big stash of yarn since they are both avid knitters.

Here are 10 quick questions for Amanda.

  1. Which Swedish storybook/cartoon character turns you on the most?

Pippi Långstrump! I love her total non-concern about convention and her hedonistic happy-go-lucky attitude. It’s very inspiring!

  1. Can you play any instruments?

I sure can. I’m really good at playing the flute traverse! I can also play a bit of bodhran drum and African drums. I can also do ‘kulning’, the traditional Swedish herding call – though that’s not exactly an instrument. Unless you count your voice as being one =)

  1. What was your favourite TV show when growing up?

Charmed!

  1. Midsummer, Lucia or Christmas?

Midsummer definitely. It feels so magical, there is just something about in the air during that time of the year.

  1. How old is the oldest pair of shoes in your closet?

Eeeh, five years maybe? I’m not that bothered with shoes so I tend to just have a few that I wear until they fall apart and I am forced to buy new ones.

  1. What, or who, are you a “closet” fan of?

I’m pretty open with all my weirdness so there isn’t anything I’m afraid to share, haha. However, I am a total Pokémon nerd, and currently I am enjoying catching them all in Pokémon Moon which my wife gave me for my birthday (23rd December). I have loved Pokémon since I first discovered the games when I was 12 years old and have played the games one after another…

  1. What is the oldest thing in your fridge?

No idea, we love food in our household so things tend to get eaten. The oldest thing is probably the garlic, but that will also soon be used up.

  1. What Swedish food do you never want to live without?

Salt liqourice! I love ‘Turkisk Peppar’.

  1. What is the nerdiest thing you do in your spare time?

That’s probably playing Pokémon. And it’s not just that I play the games, I know so much about the game world and the different pokémon you can catch. I know which generation the creatures are from, what they evolve into, what type they are…

  1. Do you have any strange phobias?

Not really. The worst fear I have is going on planes and boats I think. Especially boats. They might sink!

  1. Favourite Swedish saying?

‘Ingen fara på taket’ (no danger on the roof), and my own ‘Kom igen, det blir kul!’ (come on, it’ll be fun!).

  1. What are three things still left on your bucket list?

Learn leather mask making. Get another tattoo, this one along my spine. Buy a borzoi (a beautiful large sight hound dog breed)

 

To book a Skype-fika with Amanda, go to the booking system and select “Skype-fika” and then “Amanda” as your trainer.

 

Quick questions for Daniel

Daniel is a Swedish teacher here at Swedish Made Easy. He teaches all levels, from 14962990_10154660030213735_856244307_nbeginner to advanced. He comes from Göteborg in Sweden (which he would adamantly argue is the best city in Sweden), and lives with his family in London, UK. He has worked in education for over 8 years, and taught Swedish since 2013. 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 also writes books and short stories (check it out).

Here are 11 quick questions for Daniel!

1. Can you play any instruments?

I learned to play the guitar when I attended a music course at university. Wrote and composed a Gospel song called “Godissången” for the children’s musical we performed at the end of term. Radio stations across the world played it for years and years and … oh, right. That part was just a dream.

2. What was your favourite TV show when growing up?

Transformers, He-Man, and Star Fleet in the 1980s; X-files and Twin Peaks in the 1990s.

3. Favourite Swedish band?

I realised in 2000-2001 that my favourite band was Kent. Favourite “foreign” band is R.E.M.

4. Do you collect anything?

I had a strange fascination collecting postcards for a long time, but these days that obsession has changed to coffee mugs. I like drinking my fancy Italian coffee in style.

5. Choose a movie title for the story of your life.

A Life Less Ordinary.

6. What is the oldest thing in your fridge?

A frozen House elf from 1821. Mind you, the fridge is from the glorious year of 1816.

7. What, or who, are you a “closet” fan of?

Dolly Parton.

8. What is the nerdiest thing you do in your spare time?

I’m a member of a Swedish film site and record each new film I watch. So far, I’ve watched 2603 of them. The latest one was Independence Day: Resurgence, which I gave a solid 1 (out of 5).

9. Favourite film?

Are you crazy? There are too many to pick from! Help! Okay, okay, depends on the genre. Overall I’d go with the original 12 Angry Men.

10. What about a favourite Swedish film, then?

That’s very difficult too. I’ll go with a timeless classic comedy and say Att Angöra en Brygga. All my favourite Swedish actors gathered on an island to celebrate Midsummer, what can go wrong?

11. What are three things still left on your bucket list?

Publish books, travel outside Europe, and provide tools for my children to become decent and caring human beings.

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To book a lesson with Daniel or to check his availability, click on “Swedish with Daniel” on the booking system

Quick questions for Jessica

Jessica is a conversational trainer here at Swedish Made Easy. She offers “Skype-fika”, which is an opportunity to get to practice improvised conversation with a 12748117_10154000986042372_6885427495407892589_onative Swede. Jessica is born and bred in Stockholm but has roots in Austria. She is married and has one child. She has always been interested in people and communication and various contexts, perhaps since she has three fluent languages under her belt. When she worked as an ambassador for “The Swedish Number“, she spoke to people from all over the world, which she found fascinating and fun. She has lived abroad, both in Germany and Austria, through different periods in her life. Jessica works in finance in the entertainment industry for a company in Stockholm (SoFo), and prefer to visit cities and beaches to soak up some sun when she can.

Here are 10 quick questions for Jessica.

1.Which Swedish storybook/cartoon character turns you on the most?

Birka Borkason when I was a child.

2. Can you play any instruments?

Played the Clarinet for 3 years.

3. What was your favourite TV show when growing up?

Alfons Åberg

4. Midsummer, Lucia or Christmas?

Christmas

5. What, or who, are you a “closet” fan of?

I don’t kiss and tell 😉

6. What Swedish food do you never want to live without?

Bregott butter!!

7. What is the nerdiest thing you do in your spare time?

I don’t know if it’s nerdy but I clean and organise a lot.

8. Do you have any strange phobias?

Sharks

9. Favourite Swedish saying?

“Det man inte har i huvudet får man ha i benen”

10. What are three things still left on your bucket list?

So so much!!!

 

To book a Skype-fika with Jessica, go to the booking system and select “Skype-fika” and then “Jessica” as your trainer.

Quick questions for Sophie

Sophie works as a Swedish teacher at Swedish Made Easy. She is a native image1-1-jpgSwede who spent her 20’s in London, but these days she is based in Stockholm where she lives with her husband and two children. She works as an rhetoric consultant as well as a equality consultant, with a focus on communication. She has a great love for the Swedish language, its development and uses of languages generally.

 

Here are 12 quick questions for Sophie.

1.Which Swedish storybook/cartoon character turns you on the most?

Pippi, because she did everything the other way around, didn’t follow conventions and had her own very cool look.

2. Can you play any instruments?

A bit of piano and a little bit of guitar

3. What was your favourite TV show when growing up?

Laverne and Shirley

4. Midsummer, Lucia or Christmas?

Midsummer!

5. How old is the oldest pair of shoes in your closet?

My Doc Martin, I bought them in 1996!

6. What, or who, are you a “closet” fan of?

Make up tutorials

7. What is the oldest thing in your fridge?

A year of coconut butter. I know it’s good, but can’t eat it.

8. What Swedish food do you never want to live without?

Sill!

9. What is the nerdiest thing you do in your spare time?

Play simpsons on my phone

10. Do you have any strange phobias?

Dirty hands

11. Favourite Swedish saying?

Det ordnar sig!

12. What are three things still left on your bucket list?

Jump out of an airplane (preferable with a parachute), Tatoos, My own TV show.

 

Sophie is available on Thursday mornings for lessons. To book Sophie, go to the booking system and select “Swedish with Sophie”.

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.

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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.

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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:
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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.

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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. 🙂
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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.

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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

 

What are the best ways of learning a language?

Of course, this is the ongoing quest for all language learners. What method is the most effective? Are there any good shortcuts? With so many different apps, programmes, methods and so on, which ones are the most effective?

I found a very useful summary by a language coach called Gruff Davis (yes, that is his name!), which I wanted to share because I wholeheartedly agree with all his points. He is using French as an example, but it can of course be applied to Swedish as well. Here it goes.

1. Understand the Language Learning Journey
Language learning has an appalling abandonment rate. A mere 4% of students embarking on language courses in schools achieve a basic level of fluency after three years. 96% fail to achieve fluency and/or abandon courses completely!

People almost always wrongly conclude two things from this:
Myth 1) Learning languages is hard.
Myth 2) Other people (but not them) are naturally good at languages.

One of the biggest reasons cited for abandoning is that students don’t feel any sense of progression. A GCSE student with an A* will visit France and find they can’t even have a basic conversation. People largely give up because they had the wrong expectations set. So let’s bust some myths:

1) Learning a language isn’t hard. It’s just LONG.
2) Everyone is naturally good at languages. You already learned one, remember? You’ve just forgotten how long it took.

I’m going to use a metaphor that I hope will help you get the knack.

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I think of learning a language a bit like climbing a mountain (a large but easy mountain, the sort that anyone can climb so long as they keep going).

Here’s what most teachers won’t tell you: It takes 600+ hours of study & practice to reach fluency in French (unless you already speak another latin-based language – a so-called romance language). Think about this. If (say) you learn 1 hour of French per week, then in forty weeks you’ll do 40 hours. You’ll need fifteen years at that rate to become fluent, not counting all the stuff you forget because of the gaps between study. (Harder languages like Russian or Mandarin can take 1,200 hours!)

At the other extreme, if you study really intensively, you can rack up 40 hours in one week!It’s possible (but not guaranteed) to achieve fluency in ten to twelve weeks at that rate. Most people don’t have the spare time to give that level of intensity, but understanding the journey helps you be realistic about what you can achieve so you won’t get demotivated.

2. Intensity is vital to learning a language quickly. 
This is a double-whammy. 1) Immersing yourself as deeply as possible in the subject allows you to rack up the hours as quickly as possible. 2) Memory fades unless it’s used. Low-intensity studies (i.e. school French) are ineffective because their intensity is so low that you end up forgetting a large percentage of what you learn. So, try to learn as intensely as time will permit you to.

To use my mountain metaphor, the ground is icy and slippery and if you go slowly, you’ll slip back as much as you progress. The faster you can climb, the less you will slip back.

3. Be kind to yourself
I’ve used sunlight in this mountain metaphor to give you an indication of how it feels to be at these levels. It’s not until B1/B2 that the light comes out and it starts to feel really good speaking French. That happens around the 350-400 hours mark if you’ve never learned a second language before.

Expect a lot of fog and confusion for the first few hundred hours. It’s completely normal and you’re not stupid. EVERYONE feels this way, even the people who seem really gifted at languages. The difference is, anyone who’s already been through that and reached the sunlight expects this stage, and it doesn’t phase them because they know they’ll get there eventually. So, if you catch yourself saying things like, “I’m rubbish at French” or “I’m stupid” just stop for a moment and remind yourself that you’re neither and you will get it if you persevere.

4. Prepare for the journey 
If you’re a complete beginner I find it’s really important to absorb the sounds of the language before beginning serious study. I listen to hours of audio (audio books are great for this) without trying to understand the content, but still actively listening to the sounds of the language to embed them. I usually find after a while I end up babbling them a little like a baby which can feel a bit silly . Which brings me my next piece of advice:

5. Practise looking stupid
Being self-conscious is your biggest enemy. You cannot speak a foreign language without feeling stupid at some point. You have to get over that. You have to twist your mouth into strange new shapes that make you feel like a caricature; you will speak and not be understood and you will listen and not understand. A LOT. It’s really okay and in fact necessary to learning. If you think about it, what’s the big deal? So you look stupid. Who cares?

If you instead give yourself credit every time you feel stupid you can turn this around. Give yourself a little mental gold star each time you feel stupid because those moments are learning moments. Feeling stupid is actually a sign of progress, or the moment just prior to progress.

6. Find out where you are (and therefore what the next stage is)
I strongly advise you measure your level using CEFR levels (CEFR – the Common European Framework of-Reference for languages) as these are now standard across Europe.

(and here is a self assessment test you can do to find out your Swedish level according to the CEFR levels).