Marilena is a biologist who works as a researcher in a well-known research institute. She arrived in Sweden a couple of years ago, moving from her home country, Greece, to work in Stockholm.
Even though Swedish winters can be hard for Mediterranean people, she loves Stockholm for its parks, restaurants, amazing bars and widely preserved nature. And what is even more great, according to Marilena, is that there are cinnamon rolls everywhere!
What led you to want to learn Swedish?
Fate brought me to Sweden almost 2 years ago, when I got a new position as a researcher in Stockholm. Even though there was no immediate need to learn Swedish to cope at work or daily life, I found that I was missing out on a lot of facts about Swedes and their lifestyle.
When and how did you start learning Swedish?
I initially got a teach-yourself book about three months after I arrived in Sweden. However, it soon became clear that I needed a bit of guidance and help to really be able to understand this new language. Even though it is not one of the most difficult languages, it is important to have someone with good knowledge of Swedish to explain things.
How much do you currently use the Swedish language, and why?
I do not use Swedish as much as other people living here, mainly because at my workplace we are communicating in English. However, I have the opportunity to speak Swedish quite often, either with non-English-speaking people at the institute and very often in department stores, doctor appointments and other everyday life incidences. The ability to be able to speak Swedish has made me much more open to meeting new people outside work and I really enjoy the practice!
What have been the challenges for you in learning Swedish?
Very often I mix some words or principles from other languages while I talk or write in Swedish. In particular, I find very often that I make mistakes by introducing words from German, since I do find the two languages to have quite some similarities. Quite often, I can get away with it because they do share a lot of words!
What is your proudest moment as a Swedish speaker?
I take pride in small things, such as ordering at a restaurant in Swedish, making small talk with Swedish colleagues in Swedish, or being able to follow conversations on the publish transport (I know, I should not be that much proud of listening to strangers’ conversations!). I will be very proud though, when I am able to give even the tiniest presentation about my work in Swedish!
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 am tempted to say that the book of my very own teacher, Anneli, has been my favourite! I also find it quite helpful to pick up some magazines in Swedish (for example, the booklets they sometimes have at the cinema, where one can find interviews of actors or a few pieces on upcoming movies).
Can you recommend any online/media resources for learning Swedish?
A quick and easy fix is to install any app, to freshen up on vocabulary while riding the metro or bus. I find this to be very helpful. My favourite one is Duolingo, and it offers the advantage of being repetitive when you tend to do mistakes (until you get it right!).
Do you have any other advice for future, budding Swedish learners?
Never feel shy to speak in Swedish even if you are just learning. From my experience, Swedes love to see people interested in learning their language and they are always very supportive. They even speak slower and clearly once they realise you are new to learning Swedish!