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.

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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? 🙂

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)

Fancy booking lessons? http://swedishmadeeasy.com/book-a-lesson/

 

 

Quick guide to Swedish weddings

One of my students, who has been to numerous Swedish weddings, have written this useful quick guide to Swedish weddings, which she has kindly agreed for me to share. Pictures by http://www.evaberonius.se 

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Swedish Wedding Traditions

  • Swedish weddings can be quite different to British weddings. So here’s your quick guide to Swedish traditions!

    1. The bride and groom walk up the aisle together at the beginning of the ceremony. A bride walking in with her father is considered very old-fashioned. Some do have bridesmaids, though.

    2. At the reception, if lots of people tap their glasses, it doesn’t mean they want to make speeches. It means they want the bride and groom to kiss.

    3. You’ll often receive a booklet at the reception with details about each guest, plus some fun bits about the couple, and song lyrics.

    4. Toastmasters will introduce each speech at the reception. All ten or twelve of them…

    5. What happens on tour may not stay on tour. Because the hens and the stags will be giving a speech about each trip, and photos can (should?) be involved!

    6. There will be songs. But don’t worry, there will be alcohol too.

    7. There will be games. Mostly poking fun at the bride and groom. Audience participation (if only in the form of cheering) is mandatory.

    8. If the bride leaves the room during the reception meal, all the women in the room must run up to the groom and kiss him on the cheek (just the cheek, please!). Ditto if the groom leaves the room, all the men must kiss the bride. Not sure what the origins are of this tradition…

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Lucia – classic Swedish tradition, or sexist popularity contest?

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Svenska:

Natten går tunga fjät
runt gård och stuva
Kring jord som soln förlät
skuggorna ruva
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

 

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

 

2 November 1887

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.

The Jenny Lind pub in Hastings, UK

Den Bruna Maten

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.

10 oktober 1471 – The Battle of Brunkeberg

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.

Source: Wikipedia