How long does it take to learn Swedish?

One of the most common questions that I get, and rightly so, is how long it takes to learn Swedish. Unfortunately, it is really difficult to say how long it will take for someone to make a certain progress, as there are a number of factors that come in to play. 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 course book that I work with for beginners, covers levels A1, A2, B1 and B2 (acc to the Common European Framework of References for Languages):

A1: Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.

A2: Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.

B1: Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. Can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken. Can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes & ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.

B2: Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialisation. Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party. Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.

Cambridge ESOL said that each level is reached with the following guided learning hours:

A1: 80-120

A2: 180-200

B1: 350-400

B2: 500-600

C1: 700-800

C2: 1,000-1,200

This is in my opinion longer than most people need. My fastest student reached level A1 after only 17 hours tuition on Skype! But some students have needed at least double the time. 

More hours per week obviously means faster progress. But it is not only about simply ‘clocking up’ the hours and do nothing in between, it is very important to revise things – often! Apparently, we forget 80% of what we have learnt within 24 hours, unless we revise. It is recommended to revise once after 10 minutes, after 1 day, after 2 days, after 1 week and after 1 month. It is also recommended that you study in short sessions and often, rather than do longer sessions more seldom. So, in other words, it is better to do 1 hour a day, than a 7 hour-session once a week.

How do you tend to study? Do you have any tips? If so, do comment in the comment box below – many people find it inspiring to read about other people’s study techniques.


18 thoughts on “How long does it take to learn Swedish?

  1. Dear.. I am a physician, I live in Kurdistan (north Iraq) and my English is good, I want to be in sweden to practice my career there.. But my problem is that I dont know swedish.. As your experince how much time it take for me to learn swedish..


  2. Hej,
    I’m already in Sweden for a Master’s program and I’m interested in learning the Swedish language.
    Please, can you recommend any text and relevant materials to help me?
    Tack Tack!

  3. Hi, would you please suggest me some useful books which make me ready for c1 test? Of course I’m learning Swedish language from beginning. Thanks.

    • You could have a look at Rivstart, they have a book for B2+C1. However, make sure to get speaking and writing practice (and feedback on it) too, as it is not possible to get to this level without balancing all language skills carefully (speaking, listening, reading, writing). /Anneli

    • Rivstart A1A2 if you are studying with a teacher. Teach Yourself Complete Swedish if you are studying on your own (as it is written in English).

  4. Hej, That was extremely helpful. I can speak and write English and French fluently and as I am in Sweden I have to learn Svenska as much fast as I can by myself.
    Can you suggest great books or pdfs for A1, A2 to self-study?


    Amir Bavafa

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