Elena comes from Italy but has been living abroad for many years – right now her home is in Lund. She teaches Japanese online and she shares her experiences as an introvert language learner on hitoritabi.it. She likes dogs, fredagsmys and sunny days.
At first, I met some Swedes while living in Japan and I got fascinated by the sound of the language. I learnt some words and expressions just for fun.
A few years later, I had the chance to visit Sweden and meet some of those friends again. Finally, I got together with my now sambo and at the same time, I also got serious about learning Swedish.
When and how did you start learning Swedish?
I started about a year and a half ago. For a few months, I pretty much only used apps and learning Swedish wasn’t much of a commitment. Then, when I started planning to move to Sweden with my boyfriend, I began to study in a more structured way. I bought a couple of textbooks and then started to take weekly lessons with Anneli to practice regularly and get extra support for my learning journey.
How much do you currently use the Swedish language, and why?
Since I moved to Sweden, 3 months ago, I’ve been using it in my everyday life. I also try to speak Swedish with my boyfriend’s family, though we switch to “Swenglish” from time to time, when the conversations get more complicated. I’m happy I took the time to learn the basics before coming here, so I don’t feel completely clueless in most social situations.
What have been the challenges for you in learning Swedish?
Probably keeping up with the speed of spoken Swedish. I sometimes find it hard to follow when someone talks full speed, and I most certainly can’t talk as fast as some Swedes do.
What is your proudest moment as a Swedish speaker?
Every time I speak Swedish in shops or restaurants and the other person doesn’t switch to English to talk to me. And also being quite good at answering the questions from the TV show “På spåret” despite the language being difficult for my current level.
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 enjoy learning with the Rivstart textbooks, they help you practice all of the skills in a balanced way. I like that the textbook is all in Swedish and that it gives ideas for conversation and discussion in each chapter. To keep my inner grammar-geek happy, I use Form i Fokus to review and get extra practice in tricky grammar topics.
Can you recommend any online/media resources for learning Swedish?
There are a few good courses for Swedish on Memrise. I would also recommend Babbel if you want to have more grammar explanations and examples. The website learningswedish.se is another tool I like, as well as the podcast Sfipodd.se if you want to hear some natural Swedish.
Do you have any other advice for future, budding Swedish learners?
Pick a few resources based on your needs and stick with them. There are always new apps and tools, but when you want to try everything the risk is to get overwhelmed instead. Study a little bit every day, it works better than having one 5-hour session once a week. Find activities that you enjoy and get to know a bit about the Swedish culture, discover things that make you passionate about it. Without a strong drive it’s easy to lose motivation, so keep reminding yourself every day why you’re learning. Lycka till!