Swedish vowel O

How to pronounce the Swedish vowel O

How do you best pronounce the Swedish vowel O? This vowel is a little bit different than the English O.

O

The vowel O can be hard to pronounce, because it is a bit more extreme than the English ‘oh-sound’. The ‘oh-sound’ in English requires fairly relaxed lips, and also a relaxed tongue. The Swedish O requires a very tense mouth and hard lips pressed together, like when you are whistling a tune, or sucking a straw. The tongue is pulled right back in the throat, like you do if you eat something that is too hot and you try to protect your tongue. I think it sounds a little bit like an owl! This is however just the long sound. This vowel has 2 more ways to pronounce it, check out the video to find out what they sound like.

Alla Helgons Dag

Alla Helgons Dag – a day for reflection

While Halloween celebrators have a lie in and maybe sleep off their hangover on 1st of November, many Swedes take to cemeteries at dusk to light candles on graves and reflect on loved ones they have lost, while strolling through the crisp autumnal landscapes.

Photo by Holger Motzkau

Origins of Alla Helgons Dag

According to sweden.se, in the year 731 AD, 1 November was designated a day of remembrance for saints of the church who had no days of their own. From the 11th century, 2 November was dedicated to all the dead, of whatever standing, and was called All Souls’ Day. It was widely observed by the populace, with requiems and bell-ringing, but was abolished with the arrival of the Reformation. In 1772, All Saints’ Day in Sweden was moved to the first Sunday in November and in 1953 to the Saturday between 31 October and 6 November.

In the 1900s, however, people began putting lit candles on the graves of the departed on All Saints’ Day. This custom originated with wealthy families in towns and cities. But after the World War II, it spread throughout the country. Churches also began holding services of light to mark the day.

In the north of Sweden, All Saints’ Day marks the first day of winter and the traditional start of the alpine ski season. Until recently, shops and stores were closed to mark the occasion. Although this is no longer the case everywhere, many Swedes take the day off. Those who don’t visit cemeteries usually stay at home with the family and cook something together. Many churches organise concerts to celebrate All Saints’ Day.

Where to see Alla Helgons Dag

Any cemetery will be beautiful to stroll through at dusk (make sure to check what time the sun sets).

If you happen to be in Stockholm, you might want to go and visit Skogskyrkogården. It is a very large cemetery just south of Stockholm, and it is also a UNSECO World Heritage site. It is easily accessible on the metro, green line number 18 towards Farsta or Farsta strand. The stop is called Skogskyrkogården.

 

 

Swedish vowel I

How to pronounce the Swedish vowel I

This week, I’ll continue with some tips and tricks on how to pronounce the Swedish vowels, and next up is the Swedish vowel I.

I

This vowel unfortunately adds another layer to the confusion around the Swedish vowel E. This is because the Swedish pronunciation of the letter I is just like the English ‘ee’. In other words, a very wide and smiley ‘ee-sound’. The only consolation is that Swedish speakers have exactly the same problem when learning English, just the other way around! Check out the video to find out how to also pronounce the short I-sound

We’re going to Language Show Live

Language Show Live

We are SUPER excited to reveal that we are speaking at Language Show Live this year, in London! 😃 10 November at 2.30 pm, London Olympia. Our talk is called “Overcoming challenges as an adult language learner” and we’ll be talking about barriers and challenges you might encounter as a mature language learner, and how to overcome them.

Come and see us there!

10 November 2018, 2.30 pm

Abstract:

Foreign language programmes often focus on children in schools but if you are one of the tens of thousands of adults learning a foreign language, come along to this session presented by Swedish Skype teachers and authors, Dr Anneli Haake and Daniel Lind. With over 10 years experience of teaching languages to adults, they will discuss the challenges adults face when learning a new language, discuss how to stay motivated as adult learners, how to set realistic goals and find the joy in learning as a mature language student.

Time prepositions: i, på and om

Are you unsure of when to use the time prepositions i, , and om when describing when, for how long or how often something happens? You are not alone. In this week’s blog post, we’ll dive into the murky waters of time prepositions, and look at the categories of Point in Time, Time Duration and Frequency, as they will dictate when you use i, på and om.

När? When? (point in time)

When you want to say something about when something will happen or happened, you want to refer to a Point in Time. And you have two options. Either you want to talk about something will happen in the future, or you want to talk about something that happened in the past.

FUTURE – om

Unless you want to give the exact date or time (which is of course fine too!), you can use the preposition om, and then add the time between now and the event that you are talking about. For example:

om ett årin a year’s time

om en veckain a week’s time

om 5 minuterin 5 minutes’ time

PAST – för … sedan

If the event happened in the past, you can use för + time + sedan. This basically means ago. Notice that we do not have one word for ago, we have two! One that comes before the time and one that comes after. For example:

för ett år sedana year ago

för en vecka sedana week ago

för 5 minuter sedan5 minutes ago

 

Hur länge? (For) how long? (duration of time)

If you want to talk about how long something has been happening, you will be referring to Duration of Time. Here you also have two options, but they are more to do with positive and negative. If something has been going on, or will be going on (in this sense, positive) for a duration of time, use i. For example:

Jag har studerat svenska i 2 årI have studied Swedish for 2 years

Jag ska vara i Grekland i 2 veckorI will be in Greece for 2 weeks

If something has NOT been happening for a period of time, or will NOT happen for a period of time, use . For example:

Jag har inte gått på gymmet på 2 veckorI have not been to the gym for 2 weeks

Jag ska inte ha semester på 2 månaderI won’t have a holiday for 2 months

 

Hur ofta? How often? (frequency)

If you want to express how often something happens, or has happened, you are in the area of Frequency. Here, you need to use either i or om. This will be determined by the word that you use. Here are the rules:

If it is dagen, dygnet, or året, use om: 

en gång om dagenonce a day

en gång om dygnetonce every 24 hours

en gång om åretonce every year

If you want to up the frequency, just change en gång to två gånger (twice), tre gånger (three times), fyra gånger (four times), and so on.

If it is sekunden, minuten, timmen, veckan, månaden or kvartalet, use i:

en gång i sekundenonce every second

en gång i minutenonce every minute

en gång i timmenonce an hour

en gång i månadenonce a month

en gång i kvartaletonce every 3 months

Same thing here, if you want to up the frequency, just change en gång to två gånger (twice), tre gånger (three times), fyra gånger (four times), and so on.

Also notice that the time unit takes definite form: dagen, månaden, året, and so on.

 

Practice

Now that you know the difference between Point in Time, Duration and Frequency, could you fill in the right preposition into these six sentences? (the question is given in brackets before the sentence)

1 (När?) Johan ska åka till Grekland _______ två veckor.

2 (När?) Lisa var i New York _______ tre månader ________.

3 (Hur länge?) Sarah har studerat svenska _______ 3 år.

4 (Hur länge?) Jag har inte träffat min kusin ______ 5 år.

5 (Hur ofta?) Scott brukar åka på semester två gånger ______ året.

6 (Hur ofta?) Paul tränar på gymmet fyra gånger ______ veckan.

 

Lycka till!

Anneli

Swedish vowel E

How to pronounce the Swedish vowel E

Today, I’m presenting some tips on how to pronounce the Swedish vowel E.

E

This vowel can be tricky because for an English speaker, the natural instinct is to treat it like the English ‘ee’ (like in for example ‘bumble-bee’). But the Swedish E is lower, and finishes off with a slight A-sound in the very end (at least the accents found around Stockholm and Uppsala on the East coast). The best way to find the right sound, is to say the English word ‘ear’, but to remove the ‘r-sound’ in the end: ‘ea’. Check out the video below to also find out how to pronounce the short version of E.

‘Kom hit!’ About adverbs of location and direction

The problem with ‘här’ and ‘hit’

When you start learning Swedish, you soon learn the word for here: här.

Jag bor här. I live here.

But then, after a while, you may notice that Swedes never say Kom här! for Come here! Instead, we say Kom hit! Why on earth do we not say här!?

Kom hit!

The word here is an adverb. In Swedish, we have some adverbs that will differ slightly if they are in the context of a location or a direction.

Här and hit both mean here, but här indicates a location and hit indicates a direction. Likewise, där and dit both mean there, but där indicates a location and dit indicates a direction.

How to know if the word is used in a context of location or direction

The form used depends on what verb is used with it. We have some verbs that indicate location, and some that indicate direction. Therefore, if you know which ones these are, you can easily tell if you should use for example här or hit.

Here are some common verbs that indicate location:

är am/are/is

bor live

sover sleep

jobbar work

studerar study

ligger lie

sitter sit

står stand

parkerar park

As you can see from this list, there is not a lot of movement going on here. They are all still, so to speak, in one place. This is because they indicate a location. With any of these verbs, you would therefore use här and där (and not hit or dit). For example:

Jag arbetar här. I work here. Micke bor där. Micke lives there.

Here are some verbs that indicate direction:

åker/reser travel

flyger fly

kör drive

cyklar cycle

kommer come

går go, walk

hittar find your way

Because these verbs indicate direction, you need to use hit and dit. For example:

Lars flyger hitLars flies here. Hon cyklar ditShe is cycling there.

And of course, this applies to all forms of the verbs (present, past, infinitive and so on).

More adverbs of location and direction and even origin

Some of you may already know that this doesn’t just happen for the words for here and there, but there are more adverbs that change depending on location or direction verbs. And there are also another set for origin (movement away from something). Click HÄR 🙂 to download a cheat sheet with all these adverbs. Perfect to print and put up somewhere where you’ll see them every day.

Practice

Now that you know the difference between location and direction, based on the verbs, can you fill in the correct adverbs into these 3 sentences?

1 (hem, hemma)

a Jag jobbar ______ den här veckan.

b Vilken tid kommer du ______?

2 (hit, här)

a Jag älskar den här restaurangen, vi går ______ nästa helg också!

b Jag är _______. Var är du?

3 (dit, där)

a Jag var på Skansen i helgen. Har du varit _______?

b Lisa: Hur åker ni till Arlanda flygplats? Anna: Vi tar nog bussen _______.

 

Lycka till!

Anneli

Swedish vowel A

How to pronounce the Swedish vowel A

The Swedish language is relatively vowel-rich. The pronunciation of these vowels can prove a challenge when you are learning Swedish. Therefore, I will post some tips and tricks on how to say the Swedish vowels they way you say them in the alphabet, and I’m (unsurprisingly) starting with the Swedish vowel A.

A

The thing to remember with A is that it is very long. For English speakers, it usually helps to make the same sound as when saying the English letter ‘r’, but to remove the ‘r-sound’ in the end and only keep the long ‘ah’. Another way can be to visualize the sound you have to make if a doctor examines your mouth and throat. The doctor usually places a spatula on your tongue, and asks you to say ‘ah’. Finally, it is important to remember to drop your jaw properly, which makes the A deep and long. Check out the video to find out how to pronounce the short A-sound.

5 ways to stay motivated

One of the most difficult aspects of learning a language is keeping up your motivation. So many of my students go through patches of lacking in motivation, and when you do it is easy to fall out of routine altogether, coming up with reasons not to learn (too much on at work, not enough time, etc), and the learning process might even grind to a halt completely.

In this blog post, I wanted to talk a bit about motivation and give you some hands on tips on how to stay motivated.

 

Internal vs external motivation

Internal motivation is basically enjoyment. It is the satisfaction of making progress, enjoying the learning journey, feeling curious and open, enjoying learning new pieces of information, feeling satisfied when understanding something tricky.

External motivation is some kind of reward, which could be real or symbolic. It could be achieving good results in a test, it might be the prestige in being fluent, or the rewards in being able to communicate with extended family and friends perhaps. The issue with external motivation is that it can lead to a situation where learners are learning even though they don’t actually enjoy it. It is therefore better to focus mainly on making sure your internal motivation is nice and strong!

How can we work on our internal motivation?

1. Make positive associations

Connect Swedish with your other interests. If you like politics, read the news headlines on dn.se or svd.se. Now is a particularly interesting time in Swedish politics, following the general election. Are you interested in history? Look into the history of Sweden. Like baking? Learn how to bake cinnamon buns, and translate a recipe from Swe to Eng. If you like music, research music with Swedish lyrics and try and translate them, and of course – sing along! I have a playlist on Spotify that you can have a look at: http://open.spotify.com/user/browwn/playlist/1ielXWVCjGa7cvYad7xWPc

Also try and associate learning Swedish with your favourite activities and places. Put a Swedish podcast on when you’re running, for example. Watch movies and tv series in Swedish. Look at youtube for Swedish clips. Go to sr.se (Swedish radio) and listen live or download a podcast. The channel P1 is news, current affairs, debates and culture. P2 is classical and jazz music. P3 is pop music and programmes for a younger audience. P4 is local radio stations. It’s worth checking out the programme Klartext, which is a daily news bulletin in easier Swedish (shorter sentences, reduced vocab). There is also a brilliant app for smartphones, called SR Play.

2. Don’t give up

You need a holistic and realistic view of the learning process. Many language learners start out with high hopes for achieving fluency fast, but their enthusiasm quickly dips when they find themselves making the same mistakes again and again, and maybe speak in an (often self-perceived) embarrassing accent.

This is definitely not the time to throw in the towel and admit defeat! These errors are 100% normal and actually a part of the progress. It is therefore EXTREMELY important to remember this:

Language-learning errors are not a negative reflection on your intelligence!

Instead, learn to love your errors. They are your friends, they bring you step by step closer to fluency and confidence. Smile, and learn from them.

3. Remember why you started

Was it to be able to speak more with colleagues at work? Or with your in-laws? Or to be able to at some point move to Sweden? Or to be able to speak like Saga Noren in The Bridge, just because it’s a cool thing to be able to do? Or because it’s cooler and more unusual than just learning Spanish or Mandarin?

Remind yourself now, maybe even write yourself a little e-mail to yourself with  http://m.futureme.org/ to remind yourself in 6 month’s time.

4. Explore ways to monitor progress

The thing with learning in general, is that it’s hard to sense progress. This is because of something I call “Moving Goal Posts”. Just as you have mastered one grammatical aspect and feel quite pleased about that, you turn a page and realise a whole damn new section that you didn’t even know before! The goal post is constantly moving. As Einstein himself said: “the more I learn the more I realise how little I know”. This is completely as it should be, it’s part of learning.

However, what is worth doing, is to capture your level at certain points, so you have something to compare with. If you are following some kind of course, this will probably be included anyway. Writing exercises that you can look back at in 3 months time. Why not make a short audio recording on your mobile phone or computer? No one needs to know, but you can go back in a year’s time and see how much you have progressed.

5. Consider not having a schedule

I know it may seem sloppy or disorganised somehow in our society to not have a schedule, we are extremely goal oriented as a society. The problem is that having a too strict schedule can make learning a language into a chore. Chores = boring = less internal motivation and less likelihood to succeed.

Learning a language is a bit like going to the gym. You won’t notice immediate effect, and you’ll have good days and bad days. You can’t just work out like mad for 6 months and then go couch potato for 2 years and expect the same level of fitness throughout. But if you work on it regularly, you will notice a difference over weeks and months. Expecting quick improvements is to expect too much from your brain, it’s simply unrealistic. Learning a language is more like a marathon than a sprint, and remember that a flood is made up of raindrops!

Some more useful tips:

  • svt.se (Swedish television, some programmes are available outside of Sweden)
  • TV4play and Kanal5play for smartphones
  • 8sidor.se (notice especially their “Lyssna” feature in the left-hand side menu)

Fancy booking lessons? https://swedishmadeeasy.com/book-a-lesson/