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Interview with a Swedish learner – Matthew

Matthew is 39 and originally from South Manchester in the UK. He has been living in Sweden for over 3 years now with his Swedish partner Sofia and more recently their two children James and Grace. They feel very lucky to live on the island of Hönö just off the coast of Göteborg in a very beautiful environment. Matthew has worked within the field of IT Infrastructure for around 15 years and has continued to do so since he moved to Sweden.

What led you to want to learn Swedish?

For me learning Swedish was somewhat of a necessity after I had moved to Göteborg in August 2015. My journey to Sweden happened when I met my now partner Sofia whilst we were both travelling on the other side of the world on the North Island of New Zealand. For me personally it was very important a few months after I had arrived to start a new journey in learning the language. I wanted to make sure that in time conversations would not pass me by and I knew that it would be advantageous in my career in Sweden

When and how did you start learning Swedish?

I initially registered for a Swedish course with SFI in Göteborg around January of 2016. My schedule was meant to be 3 hours on a Monday night in a class of 38 students and I managed just 1 class!!

At that time I was still getting to grips with a new job and my partner was pregnant and expecting our little boy anytime, so for us it simply was not going to work!

What I needed was something much more flexible that could work around my other commitments. After some searching online I came across Swedish Made Easy and rest as they say …… is history!

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

Well if I am honest not enough! I listen to a lot of Swedish in and around work and with my partner and her family. I also use it in casual situations when shopping or out for a coffee and I guess the conversation is more predictable.

We are starting to be a little more disciplined at home with my partner forcing the Swedish conversations on me!

What have been the challenges for you in learning Swedish?

Without a doubt my number one challenge has been finding the time. Having a young family around putting in those extra hours even for a bit of homework has proved difficult. It has also been a challenge to start learning a completely new language … in the sense I had no prior knowledge whatsoever. I studied German, French and a little Spanish during school …. But no Swedish! My outlook on learning Swedish, however, has always been a realistic one though and I am in no real rush, I know that more words, understanding and confidence will come given time.

What is your proudest moment as a Swedish speaker?

Proudest moment is for sure having a half decent understanding during an ölvandring (guided beer walk) through the streets of Göteborg. The guide had a very strong Skånsk accent but I really tried hard to pick my way through it (I knew most of the subject matter!) and I think I maybe understood 60 or 70% of the tour. Plenty of the jokes passed me by as did very specific details on the history of places but I tried to get a few keywords from each sentence and stay with it. My understanding got slowly worse as the tour progressed but that was more to do with the free beer! As the tour ended I even managed to get 3 of the multiple choice beer quiz questions right, more than my Swedish drinking partner!!

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

I have been subjected to a lot of kids/toddler Swedish in the past couple of years whether it be via kids books or YouTube. Strangely lots of that kids stuff really sticks after a while and its useful as you know you are identifying all these everyday objects and increasing your vocab.

I have also used the Rivstart series to follow the main curriculum and more recently complemented that with Anneli’s “Teach Yourself Complete Swedish”. I found this has really helped a couple of times when I have read though an explanation coming from a slightly different angle to what I knew previously. I also like that much of the explanation is also coming in English.

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

I used the free Duolingo app for a while which is good for new vocab but it can be a little repetitive after a while. The exercises provided with Rivstart online are also very useful to try and really practice what you read in the books. I would say Swedish Made Easy is also a great starting place to learn especially if you don’t have any easy access to a tutor led course and if you are not a natural when it comes to learning languages by yourself.

I would also thoroughly recommend Bron for a bit of Swedish / Danish crime drama …… it’s a great watch!

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

I would say to try and think about your situation, why you are learning Swedish and be realistic with your expectations and your pace of learning. For me personally I know that learning Swedish to a point where I am very comfortable and confident will take some time yet, but I am fine with that.

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