Swedish vowel E

How to pronounce the Swedish vowel E

Today, I’m presenting some tips on how to pronounce the Swedish vowel E.

E

This vowel can be tricky because for an English speaker, the natural instinct is to treat it like the English ‘ee’ (like in for example ‘bumble-bee’). But the Swedish E is lower, and finishes off with a slight A-sound in the very end (at least the accents found around Stockholm and Uppsala on the East coast). The best way to find the right sound, is to say the English word ‘ear’, but to remove the ‘r-sound’ in the end: ‘ea’. Check out the video below to also find out how to pronounce the short version of E.

‘Kom hit!’ About adverbs of location and direction

The problem with ‘här’ and ‘hit’

When you start learning Swedish, you soon learn the word for here: här.

Jag bor här. I live here.

But then, after a while, you may notice that Swedes never say Kom här! for Come here! Instead, we say Kom hit! Why on earth do we not say här!?

Kom hit!

The word here is an adverb. In Swedish, we have some adverbs that will differ slightly if they are in the context of a location or a direction.

Här and hit both mean here, but här indicates a location and hit indicates a direction. Likewise, där and dit both mean there, but där indicates a location and dit indicates a direction.

How to know if the word is used in a context of location or direction

The form used depends on what verb is used with it. We have some verbs that indicate location, and some that indicate direction. Therefore, if you know which ones these are, you can easily tell if you should use for example här or hit.

Here are some common verbs that indicate location:

är am/are/is

bor live

sover sleep

jobbar work

studerar study

ligger lie

sitter sit

står stand

parkerar park

As you can see from this list, there is not a lot of movement going on here. They are all still, so to speak, in one place. This is because they indicate a location. With any of these verbs, you would therefore use här and där (and not hit or dit). For example:

Jag arbetar här. I work here. Micke bor där. Micke lives there.

Here are some verbs that indicate direction:

åker/reser travel

flyger fly

kör drive

cyklar cycle

kommer come

går go, walk

hittar find your way

Because these verbs indicate direction, you need to use hit and dit. For example:

Lars flyger hitLars flies here. Hon cyklar ditShe is cycling there.

And of course, this applies to all forms of the verbs (present, past, infinitive and so on).

More adverbs of location and direction

Some of you may already know that this doesn’t just happen for the words for here and there, but there are more adverbs that change depending on location or direction verbs. Here is a handy little table with the most common ones.

Location Direction
hemma at home hem home
här here hit (to) here
där there dit (to) there
var where vart (to) where
inne inside in (to) in
ute outside ut (to) out
uppe up upp (to) up
nere down ner (to) down
borta away bort (to) away
framme at the destination fram forward
bak at the back bakåt backwards

Practice

Now that you know the difference between location and direction, based on the verbs, can you fill in the correct adverbs into these 3 sentences?

1 (hem, hemma)

a Jag jobbar ______ den här veckan.

b Vilken tid kommer du ______?

2 (hit, här)

a Jag älskar den här restaurangen, vi går ______ nästa helg också!

b Jag är _______. Var är du?

3 (dit, där)

a Jag var på Skansen i helgen. Har du varit _______?

b Lisa: Hur åker ni till Arlanda flygplats? Anna: Vi tar nog bussen _______.

 

Lycka till!

Anneli

Swedish vowel A

How to pronounce the Swedish vowel A

The Swedish language is relatively vowel-rich. The pronunciation of these vowels can prove a challenge when you are learning Swedish. Therefore, I will post some tips and tricks on how to say the Swedish vowels they way you say them in the alphabet, and I’m (unsurprisingly) starting with the Swedish vowel A.

A

The thing to remember with A is that it is very long. For English speakers, it usually helps to make the same sound as when saying the English letter ‘r’, but to remove the ‘r-sound’ in the end and only keep the long ‘ah’. Another way can be to visualize the sound you have to make if a doctor examines your mouth and throat. The doctor usually places a spatula on your tongue, and asks you to say ‘ah’. Finally, it is important to remember to drop your jaw properly, which makes the A deep and long. Check out the video to find out how to pronounce the short A-sound.

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? https://swedishmadeeasy.com/book-a-lesson/

What can I expect from a Swedish lesson?

What are lessons with Swedish Made Easy like? How do we work, and what material do we use? How can you best prepare for your Skype lesson? In this blogpost we’ll look at what lessons with us usually look like.

Anneli Swedish Teacher

Our lessons usually include the following:

  • brief improvised conversation (to get used to real-life conversations)
  • going through homework together (to give you thorough feedback on your homework and a chance for you to ask questions if anything is unclear)
  • working together in the course material
  • new homework being given

Sometimes, some of these areas may be given more focus than others, but generally we balance our teaching between these aspects. We also focus on all 4 core skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing), and we can cater for all levels (from A1 to C2). We can also focus on very particular aspects, if a student needs to, such as writing CV’s, preparing for job interviews or presentations, or a specific core skill that needs extra attention, for example speaking confidence or pronunciation.

Daniel Swedish Teacher

We generally use course books like Rivstart, Form i fokus and Teach Yourself Complete Swedish. Click here for a list of the course material we tend to use.

A note on homework

It is important that you do your homework before the next lesson, if you want to progress your Swedish. It is of course fine to not do any homework, but you then need to accept that your progress will be significantly slower. This is why we always recommend getting used to doing homework after every Swedish lesson. This is the way for you to get more for your money! Interaction and contact are at a premium if you’re self-teaching, so try to stay focused to make the most out of your paid lessons.

You need to send your homework to your teacher before the next lesson. We encourage students to write their homework into template documents, which you will get access to when you start with us. After every third chapter in the course book Rivstart, you will do a diagnostic test to make sure you are ready to move further.

You also need to set aside some time to revise what you have already learnt. We recommend to budget approximately 2 hours after one Skype lesson. It’s good practice to break the revision into smaller chunks. This could for example be:

  • 30 min doing your homework for next lesson
  • 15-30 min practicing with flashcards the new words you have learnt during the lesson (Swedish Made Easy have several sets already available on Quizlet, but it’s also good to create your own)
  • 15-30 min practicing with flashcards words you have learnt previously
  • 30 min revising exercises you have done previously (for ex creating sentences using old vocabulary, recording your voice when you speak)

How to prepare for a Skype lesson

  • Do your homework
  • Research any vocabulary that you would like to talk about during the improvised conversation
  • Note down any questions or difficulties that have arisen from your homework or other self-practice, and ask us during the lesson
  • Make sure that your internet/wifi is quick enough and any IT equipment is working (headphones, computers, iPads, etc). Ideally have a Plan B if something stops working.
  • Make sure you are in a space where you can concentrate. It’s ok to sit in a space where there are others around, but please make sure they don’t interrupt the session!

Swedish lesson in progress

General Ground Rules

No matter where you are at in your journey with language tutors, these five tips are going to make your life better and easier when you’re working with a language tutor.

  1. Respect your language tutor and their time
  2. Be open and tell them about yourself
    • Your situation
    • Your experience
  3. Ask advice, they’re an expert!
  4. Budget for a few months, budget for your next language goal (time budget, financial budget)
  5. Decide how you want corrections to work (Do you want them to stop you immediately if you say something incorrect? Or is it more important for you to build your flow and make yourself understood?)

Finally: TRUST THE PROCESS

  • Don’t doubt yourself too much (we’ll get back to this point in future blog posts)
  • You won’t get significantly better just through a few tutoring sessions, but you will move forward towards your goals
  • Be realistic about the time it takes to learn Swedish to different levels (see our other blog post about this). You cannot become fluent in a couple of months.
  • Don’t expect the world – you cannot buy knowledge – only help, support and advice

Book a lesson

How long to learn Swedish

Many students ask how long it takes to learn Swedish. We have previously written a longer blog post about it, but we have now also worked out a little rough guideline to how many hours it usually takes to reach each language level. This is a very rough estimate, and can vary considerably between individuals, but it may at least give an idea of what to expect.

Let’s start by being honest and say that you will not be able to become fluent in Swedish in 1 or 2 weeks. Anyone claiming that it is possible, is simply lying. Language learning is a long process – a bit more like a marathon than a quick sprint. Be wary of claims that you can learn a language fluently in x days/months, there are no miracle methods. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

 

How long it takes to learn Swedish will depend on a number of factors. Some of them are individual learning pace in general, previous knowledge of grammar (those with much knowledge tend to progress faster), how much homework the learner is able to do between lessons (faster if more homework), and also if the learner has any particular areas that they find challenging.

The calculation below is based our students and how long people in general spend to reach each level. It takes into account whether the student is a slow, medium or fast learner, and also on how much time the learner spend doing homework and other things outside of the lessons. The more hours you spend learning outside of the tuition hours, the faster you will progress (and it will be cheaper for you too!).

The calculation is also roughly correlated to the guided learning hours according to Deutsche Welle for German, Cambridge English Language Assessment for English, and Alliance Française for French.

Swedish tuition hours for each level

The ‘slow’ number is in our opinion longer than most people need. It is quite common to be somewhere between fast and medium. Our fastest student reached level A1 after only 17 hours tuition on Skype! But some students have needed at least double the time. 

Quick guide to the Swedish election

The 9th of September, the Swedish election will take place. Voters will elect members of the Riksdag (parliament), which in turn will elect Sweden’s statsminister (prime minister). There will also be elections for kommun (council) and landsting (county council). Here is a quick guide to the electoral system in Sweden, the parties that can be voted for, and some handy links to tests you can do to see which party is most representative for you.

The Swedish electoral system

Sweden hold elections every fourth year, always on the second Sunday in September. Riksdagen is made up of 349 seats in total. All seats are elected through proportional representation (unlike the system in countries like United Kingdom and United States for example). Each of the 29 constituencies has a set number of parliamentarians that is divided through constituency results to ensure regional representation. The other MPs are then elected through a proportional balancing, to ensure that the numbers of elected MPs for the various parties accurately represent the votes of the electorate. Sweden has parliamentarism in a constitutional monarchy, which means that you vote for a government, not a statsminister. In this sense, statsministern is indirectly elected. A minimum of 4% of the national vote is required for a party to enter the Riksdag.

Who can vote?

To vote for Riksdagen, you need to be at least 18 years of age and be a Swedish citizen (and be or have been registered at a Swedish address).

To vote for kommun and landsting, you need to be at least 18 years of age and either be an EU-citizen (or citizen of Iceland or Norway) and be registered at a Swedish address, or been registered at a Swedish address for at least 3 years.

Which are the major political parties?

There are currently 8 major parties who have seats in Riksdagen. They span from left to right on the political spectrum. There are many online tests you can do in Swedish to test which party suits you best. Some of them are SVT:s valkompass, TTs valkompass, Aftonbladets valkompass, and Expressens valkompass. Sveriges radio also has a test in several different languages, including English.

Socialdemokraterna (Social democrats)

The largest political party in the Swedish Riksdag, with 113 of the 349 seats. It is the major component of the current government (Löfven Cabinet), in which it governs together with the Green Party. Its current leader, Stefan Löfven, has been Prime Minister of Sweden since 3 October 2014.

 

A brief guide in English and other languages about their politics can be found here.

Website: https://www.socialdemokraterna.se/

 

 

 

 

moderaterna (the moderate party)

The second-largest party in the Riksdag with 84 seats. The party is involved alongside three other parties in the Alliance; all four will seek to return to power together. Ulf Kristersson is the party leader currently, since 1 October 2017.

 

A brief guide in English and other languages about their politics can be found here.

Website: https://moderaterna.se/

 

 

 

 

sverigedemokraterna (the sweden democrats)

The third-largest party in the Riksdag with 49 seats. In the 2014 general election the party increased its number of seats by 29, becoming the third-largest party. Its leader is Jimmie Åkesson, who is the longest-serving party leader. The other Riksdag parties have repeatedly stated that they will not cooperate with the Sweden Democrats in a future government. An extra general election was called after the Sweden Democrats gave its support to the oppositional Alliance budget. After the proposed extra election was cancelled, the party advertised itself as the ‘only opposition party’ and in the following months it saw a sharp rise in support.

 

No guides in English or other languages about their politics were found on their website

Website: https://sd.se/

 

 

 

 

miljöpartiet (the green party)

The fourth-largest party in the Riksdag with 25 seats, and a minor component of the current government together with Socialdemokraterna. It is the only Swedish party to have two spokespersons (the green party call them språkrör), currently Gustav Fridolin (since 2011) who serves as Minister for Education, and Isabella Lövin (since 2016) who serves as Minister for International Development Cooperation.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A brief guide in English and other languages about their politics can be found here.

Website: https://www.mp.se/

centerpartiet (the centre party)

The fifth-largest party in the Riksdag with 22 seats. It was a part of the government from 2006 to 2014, and is involved in the Alliance. The Centre Party has been led by Annie Lööf since 2011. It was subject to public attempts by Löfven to become a cooperation party, but the party traditionally leans towards the Moderate policy positions and stayed within the Alliance after the 2014 election.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A brief guide in English and other languages about their politics can be found here (click on Other languages).

Website: https://www.centerpartiet.se/

vänsterpartiet (the left party)

The sixth-largest party in the Riksdag with 21 seats. Its current leader is Jonas Sjöstedt. He has said that the party seeks to participate in a future Red-Green coalition government.

 

No brief guide in English or other languages about their politics were found, but they have an easy-to-read Swedish summary here.

Website: https://www.vansterpartiet.se/

 

 

 

liberalerna (the liberals)

The seventh-largest party in the Riksdag with 19 seats. It was a part of the government from 2006 to 2014, and is involved in the Alliance. The Liberals has been led by Jan Björklund since 2007.

 

A brief guide in English and other languages about their politics can be found here.

Website: https://www.liberalerna.se/

 

 

 

kristdemokraterna (the christian democrats)

The smallest party in the Riksdag with 16 seats. They have been led by Ebba Busch Thor since 2015, and are involved in the Alliance. According to opinion polls there is a significant risk that the Christian Democrats will fail to achieve representation in the next Riksdag.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A brief guide in English and other languages about their politics can be found here.

Website: https://kristdemokraterna.se/

minor parties

There are also minor parties who may hold seats in kommun, landsting, or the European Parliament, but have not reached a 4% threshold to win a seat in Riksdagen. Examples of these are Feministiskt Initiativ (Feminist Initiative) and Piratpartiet (the Pirate Party).

What happens next?

Voting will take place all over the country until (and in particular on) Sunday the 9th of September. While waiting for results, many media channels will host Valvaka – an event with discussions and debates, while the counting of the votes happen. It usually stretches into the early hours of the Monday, before any definite results can be confirmed.

 

When do we use ‘Kommer att’ and ‘ska’?

Do you find it tricky to understand the difference between ‘kommer att’ and ‘ska’ in Swedish? Fear not. In this week’s blog post, Swedish teacher Daniel is here to help!

Kommer att vs ska

Hej! Daniel here. In this week’s blog post I’ll help you to make sense of the Swedish words ‘kommer att’ and ‘ska.

In the early 1980s, I watched a Swedish cartoon called Alfons Åberg as a child. It’s about a young boy who starts his sentences with “Jag ska bara …” whenever his father tells him to get ready for school. The word ska (+ infinitiv verb) is used when the subject has decided or wants to do something specific. Alfons wants to do something else before preparing himself for school, and he’s stating his intention.

Sometimes you can also use the verb tänker as a substitute for ska. If Alfons decided to play with his toys before eating breakfast, he could tell his father: “Jag ska bara leka”. He could also say “Jag tänker bara leka.”

In contrast, kommer att (+ infinitiv verb) is used when the subject talks about future events they can’t control. Alfons’ father becomes stressed and tells his son: “Vi kommer (att) bli sena” (We will be late). This is a prediction that they will be late for school if Alfons doesn’t hurry up. The att is usually omitted in speech, but not in writing.

Another example to show intent is when we tell someone about our travel destination for the holiday: “Jag ska resa till Spanien” (“I will travel to Spain/My intention is to…/I have decided to…).

“Jag kommer att resa till Spanien” communicates that the issue is somehow outside of the subject’s control, may be travelling for a business trip, decided by someone else etc, which leaves little choice for decision making.

A third example is weather prediction where both kommer att and ska is sometimes used.

“Det kommer att regna i helgen” (It’s going to rain in the weekend). We don’t know for sure, but we predict rain because we’ve heard a rumour or based on the current weather.

“Det ska regna i helgen” (It will rain in the weekend). This is still a prediction, but there’s more evidence presented for the event to happen. Maybe the speaker has followed the weather report all week or cites another weather source.

Many Swedish learners struggle with these two concepts. There is a tendency to underestimate the use of the present tense for future meaning. I encourage to perceive the present tense as a sort of default choice, unless the utterance is cleary intentional or predictional.

Ha det gött! 

Daniel

 

Swedish Exam – Känner du till SWEDEX?

Swedish Exam (aka SWEDEX)

Do you know of SWEDEX? It is 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.

 

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.

For those who work in healthcare settings and need to prove level C1 to Socialstyrelsen in order to get a medical license to practice, Folkuniversitetet also has a C1 test that is accepted by Socialstyrelsen.

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.

Both Anneli and Daniel at Swedish Made Easy can help you to prepare for a SWEDEX 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.

 

Kräftor kräftor kräftor!

Kräftor – Crayfish

August is the season for kräftor crayfish in Sweden. But how did this tradition start in Sweden? What does it entail today? And what are some useful phrases for a traditional kräftskiva crayfish party?

The history of kräftor in Sweden

In Sweden, we have been eating kräftor for many hundreds of years. Earlier, it was mainly considered food for the upper classes, and it wasn’t until late 1800’s and early 1900’s that it became more widely popular in Sweden. About 100 years ago, the idea of kräftskiva crayfish party started to become firmly established.

Why august?

Kräftor has become associated to the month of August because of legislation. Since the Swedes ate large amounts of crayfish, it led to the introduction of legislation in terms of when it was allowed to fish for crayfish. In late 1800’s for example, it was not allowed to fish for crayfish throughout June and July. In the past decades, legislation has become more relaxed again, and there are no strict dates or times for crayfishing any longer. But since it has been associated with August for so long, it is still customary to begin the ‘crayfish season’ (to eat crayfish and to have crayfish parties) in early-mid August.

How do you catch kräftor? (or where can you buy them?)

In Sweden, there are two species of freshwater crayfish: flodkräftan and signalkräftan. Flodkräftan is from Sweden, whereas signalkräftan has been introduced into Sweden and does not originate from Sweden. They live in shallow waters where they build holes next to stones and roots.

As a private person, you are not allowed to fish for crayfish anywhere you like. Only Lake Vättern is actually open to the public. In other waters around the country, you will need some kind of license (unless you are lucky enough to be the owner of the lake!). On the West Coast, people tend to eat havskräftor – which is more like a langoustine. 

Kräftor are nocturnal animals, and are therefore caught at night. The most common way to catch them is by putting out special netted crates on the lake bed and fill them with fish, so that the crayfish are lured inside.

It is said that you should minimise the suffering of the crayfish by putting them head first into boiling water, so that they die more quickly.

You can also buy them from most supermarkets throughout August.

Kräftskiva Crayfish party

The typical kräftskiva is a party where we eat crayfish and other foods, sing songs and drink (usually quite a lot).

The crayfish are cooked whole in salted water accompanied with dill, other herbs and sometimes also beer. This is accompanied with baguettes, knäckebröd, herb-infused cheese, prawns, and often västerbottenpaj. To drink, Swedes often opt for snaps (herb-infused vodka), beer and soft fizzy drinks. It is quite common to sing songs when drinking snaps.

It is also common to wear special paper hats and bibs with a crayfish motif, and use serviettes with images of crayfish. Lanterns, bunting and candles often accompany the scene of a kräftskiva.

A word of caution…. Crayfish takes some time to eat (because of the challenge of cracking the shells) and the combination of slow eating and drinking snaps can mean a high likelihood of getting drunk quickly! Remember you don’t actually have to empty the snaps every time, even though some Swedes might try and insist on it.

Some useful phrases for a kräftskiva

Åh vad gott det var! Oh it’s really tasty!

Hur öppnar man den här? How do you open this one? (referring to the crayfish)

Kan jag få…? Can I get…?

Kan du skicka…? Can you pass me…?

Det är bra, tack. I’m good thanks. (as in ‘no more, please’)

Tack för maten! Thanks for the food! 

Kan jag hjälpa till med något? Can I do anything? (for example help clearing the table)

Jag är mätt. I am full. 

Jag är full. I am drunk.