In 30 days time, the brand new version of Teach Yourself Complete Swedish that I have been writing the past few years will finally be published (yay!).
Do you want to develop a solid understanding of Swedish and communicate confidently with others?
Through authentic conversations, vocabulary building, grammar explanations and extensive practice and review, Complete Swedish will equip you with the skills you need to use Swedish in a variety of settings and situations, developing your cultural awareness along the way. The book follows several characters through a storyline enabling learners to engage with Swedish culture and contextualise their learning.
What will I achieve by the end of the course?
By the end of Complete Swedish you will have a solid intermediate-level grounding in the four key skills – reading, writing, speaking and listening – and be able to communicate with confidence and accuracy. You will be able to engage with relevant and up-to-date topics, including politics, education, gender equality and popular entertainment in Sweden.
Is this course for me?
If you want to move confidently from beginner to intermediate level, this is the course for you. It’s perfect for the self-study learner, with a one-to-one tutor, or for the beginner classroom. It can be used as a refresher course as well as to support study for the ‘Swedex‘ Swedish proficiency test.
What do I get?
-20 learning units plus verb reference and word glossary
-Discovery Method – figure out rules and patterns to make the language stick
-Teaches the key skills – reading, writing, listening, and speaking
-Learn to learn – tips and skills on how to be a better language learner
-Culture notes – learn about the people and places of Sweden
-Outcomes-based learning – focus your studies with clear aims
-Authentic listening activities – everyday conversations give you a flavour of real spoken Swedish
-Test Yourself – see and track your own progress
*Complete Swedish maps from A1 Beginner to B2 Upper Intermediate level of the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) guidelines and from Novice-Low to Advanced-Mid level of the ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) proficiency guidelines.
The audio for this course can be downloaded from the Teach Yourself Library app or streamed at library.teachyourself.com.
Astrid Lindgren’s own readings of some of her most-loved stories are available on Spotify. Listen to Astrid herself reading her stories.
The following stories are available:
There is also some interviews with Astrid about her life as an author and her books.
An absolute treasure! What are you waiting for? 🙂
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)
Fancy booking lessons? http://swedishmadeeasy.com/book-a-lesson/
Here is a real treat, the first full Pippi movie!
Also, allow me to introduce my very own late mormor (grandmother), first appearing at 42:45 in an olive green dress, and then later at 50:47 being pulled to the ground by Pippi herself.
Jag saknar dig mormor. I miss you grandma.
Today, many Swedish schools will celebrate Lucia. Well-known as a a very typical tradition in Sweden, the day (which is actually the 13th of Dec) commemorates Saint Lucy – a Christian martyr who died during the Diocletianic Persecution. But as the date is also close to winter solstice it has become a festival of light.
However, lately the tradition has frequently become a matter of debate. Traditionally, lucia has always been a girl and only girls have been allowed to take part in the lucia election process, but in several Swedish schools in recent years this has been challenged. This year, several boys have been allowed to be lucia.
There has also been debates around the lucia election process itself. Lucias are chosen on school level, county level and national level. Traditionally, a lucia would be chosen through voting. In my old high school, each class would present two candidates and photos of all the girls would be put up in a communal school area for everyone to vote.
This often turned into a very fierce popularity contest, with very narrowly defined criteria for what lucia should look like. This also often meant that girls who were perceived as not fitting the “lucia stereotype” look were ridiculed. I remember girls who were chosen deliberately by their class because they did not fit the stereotype, and so became bullied and ridiculed when their photo was published. I also remember girls who did have the classic “lucia look” but were not particularly popular in class, and how upset they were not to be chosen as candidates.
Above is my first Lucia at nursery – yep, that’s shorty me to the right. At nursery, all girls were allowed to be lucia if they wanted. It was only later on (around the age of 12-13), that the voting element was introduced where I went to school.
More recently, several students and other activists have started to criticise the popularity element in the lucia election process, and have pointed out that it seems old fashioned. Perhaps the lucia tradition is falling out of fashion? A bit like the Miss Universe contests in recent years, something harking back to a different era where beauty contents for women were common.
Some schools have responded by changing the election to a draw, thereby trying to remove the element of popularity contest. There are also reports that some counties in Sweden struggle to even find candidates who are interested in participating.
In November, Svenska Dagbladet debated this issue online, and some of the opinions were:
– “Skip Lucia in schools but keep the tradition on national level”
– “Introduce draws instead of voting for candidates”
– “Lucia is a classic tradition, which we should not simply remove because to the “Politically Correct Mafia” have issues with it”
– “Typically Swedish to remove good old traditions”
– “I don’t understand what criteria I should use to vote? I don’t know the girls so I can only go on their looks. Feels very old fashioned”
– “Can’t really see the connection between a cute blonde Swedish girl and an Italian Christian martyr”
– “The tradition contributes to several sexist structures – boys are excluded and girls are selected based on their looks”
What do you think? Is Lucia an old tradition worth keeping, or should it be a thing of the past? Or should some elements of the tradition be updated and modified?
The Lucia song, English translation:
The night stalks with heavy treads
around the homestead and cottage
Around the earth forsaken by the sun
the shadows brood
Then, in[to] our dark house
strides with candles lit
Saint Lucy, Saint Lucy
The night was large and silent
Now, listen, it’s swishing
in all the quiet rooms
soughing as if by wings
See, at our doorstep stands
clad in white with lights in [her] hair
Saint Lucy, Saint Lucy
The dark shall soon flee
from the dells of the earth
So she a wonderful
word to us speaks
The day shall again, new made
rise from a rosy sky
Saint Lucy, Saint Lucy
Natten går tunga fjät
runt gård och stuva
Kring jord som soln förlät
Då i vårt mörka hus
stiger med tända ljus
Sankta Lucia, Sankta Lucia
Natten var stor och stum.
Nu, hör, det svingar
i alla tysta rum
sus som av vingar
Se, på vår tröskel står
vitklädd med ljus i hår
Sankta Lucia, Sankta Lucia
Mörkret skall flykta snart
ur jordens dalar
Så hon ett underbart
ord till oss talar
Dagen skall åter ny
stiga ur rosig sky
Sankta Lucia, Sankta Lucia
Today, 125 years ago, Sweden lost one of its big superstars: “The Swedish Nightingale”. The opera singer Jenny Lind passed away. She was one of the most highly regarded singers of the 19th century, and she is known for her performances in soprano roles in opera in Sweden, Europe, and in the US.
She started her success in Sweden in 1838, and was very popular in Sweden and the rest of Europe throughout the 1840’s – and was also trained by the famous composer Felix Mendelssohn, before retiring at the age of 29.
But only the year after, she was invited to do a large scale tour of America, which she partly carried out under her own management. During this tour, she earned approximately 10 million dollars in today’s value ($350,000 at the time) – and she donated a lot of it to charities in Sweden. She spent the later part of her life in England with her husband and three children, and she was also a professor of singing at the Royal College of Music in London.
She has left a legacy in Sweden, England and US in terms of films, statues, memorials, bank notes, as well as other places and objects – including islands, locomotives, Australian creeks, hospitals, street names, chapels, and pubs. There are also several awards and competitions in her name in US and in Sweden, among them The Jenny Lind Award chosen by the Royal Swedish Academy of Music.
Ever wondered what else Swedes are eating, apart from meatballs and that pickled herring?
Well, nowadays the Swedish cuisine is very multicultural (with a lot of inspiration from for example Italian, Thai, Japanese and Mediterranean cuisines), and it is also characterised by fresh meat (fish in particular), crisp breads, and quite a bit of spices (cinnamon, dill and cardamom, for example) – as was noted by Jamie Oliver when he did his “Jamie does Stockholm“.
But, this has not always been the case, as is illustrated by the food blog Den Bruna Maten. The blog apparently started as a bit of a joke, where a few people had some (at that time -fancy) recipe cards from the 1970’s, and started cooking the recipes and documenting the process and the results. Fancy some Fake Pizza, Mustard breaded pigtails and Moles? Or how about Ham-egg in jelly?
The food combinations, the names of the dishes, and some of the cooking techniques have proved to clash in a spectacular way with the 21st century Swedish food expectations. The blog has since become extremely popular in showcasing the worst of the 70’s Swedish food culture, and has also been published as a book.
Today, 541 years ago, Slaget vid Brunkeberg (The Battle of Brunkeberg) took place. The battle was fought between the Swedish regent Sten Sture the Elder and forces led by Danish king Christian I, both part of the Kalmar Union, in which Christian I aimed to unseat Sten Sture.
The background was that Sten Sture had a lot of support among the peasants in the miningregion of Bergslagen, an area that did a lot of trade with German cities. There were often conflicts around the Union’s Danish foreign policy, and there conflicts were for propaganda reasons positioned as a national war of liberation against Danish oppressors. However, in reality, most combatants on both sides were Swedish and the roots of the conflict were primarily economic and political interests.
Christian I was hit in the face by musket fire, lost several teeth and had to draw back. With help of some strategic moves, Sten Sture and his men finally won the battle.
Sture’s victory over Christian meant his power of Sweden was secure and would remain so for the rest of his life. According to legend, Sture had prayed to Saint George before the battle. He later paid tribute to Saint George by commissioning a statue of Saint George and the Dragon for the Storkyrkan church in Stockholm, as an obvious allegory of Sture’s battle against Christian. An altar dedicated to Saint George was also built in the church.