Interview with a Swedish learner – Robert Shaw

Robert is originally from Hastings and lived the last 20 years in the UK in Derbyshire. He now lives in Stockholm with his wife and bonus son in a typical Swedish apartment near to the city. They also have a lovely summer house 70 km away looking out over the archipelago. Robert works as an osteopath and psychotherapist and has started a practice in Östermalm. He also works as a lecturer and clinical supervisor at the Stockholm College of Osteopathic Medicine.

What led you to want to learn Swedish?

Love!!! Meeting my wife who is Swedish and then deciding to move to Sweden.

When and how did you start to learn Swedish?

Two and a half years ago with Anneli. Then when I came to live in Sweden going to SFI, three to four times a week for about a year.

How much do you currently use the Swedish language, and why?

Every day with my wife, my bonus son, my wife’s friends, and with my patients at work and students that I teach. Also in everyday conversations to buy things or talking to people to find directions etc.

What have been the challenges for you in learning Swedish?

Learning any new language is difficult. But Swedish in itself is not too difficult for a native English speaker. I think the main challenge is to try and speak Swedish and not rely on English.

What is your proudest moment as a Swedish speaker?

There are little moments that make me realise I have improved. I can now get by in most situations although I don’t understand everything, but I can ask for directions and make myself understood in very basic Swedish. So there is not one moment but lots of things that happen which make me realise I can use Swedish and understand it.

Can you recommend any Swedish books that are good for learning Swedish? (Could be course books, grammar books, novels, or children’s books – anything!)

Read newspapers regularly and get hold of lättlästa (easy to read) books from the library. Start to write text messages in Swedish. Grammar books are seriously boring!!! Get hold of a Swedish dictionary which is just Swedish so when you look words up the descriptions are only in Swedish.

Can you recommend any online/media resources for learning Swedish?

Google translate is okay but gives some strange translations sometimes.

Do you have any other advice for future, budding Swedish learners?

For me the best way to learn is to speak more and more, and take every opportunity to do so. Try not to be shy and worried about making mistakes as the Swedes will fill in the gaps and they usually like it that someone is trying to speak their language.

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