Swedish Language Advent Calendar 2018

Hej!

Christmas is nearly here, and this year Daniel and I thought it would be nice to provide a Swedish Language Advent Calendar. From 1st of December and until 24th (the Swedish Christmas day), you will learn a new word every day through the context of a festive little poem, courtesy of Daniel! You will not only learn the words, but there will also be specific notes on each word, like for example all verb tenses for the verbs, and handy little tips and tricks on how to use them.

Where? Instagram (but we’ll share it on our Facebook page too)

When? 1 Dec-24 Dec 2018

 

How to create plural endings in Swedish

Swedish plural endings

Are you confused about all the different plural endings in Swedish? In this blog post we’ll look at the different forms and groups so you can create and identify plural endings. There is also a free download of a noun plural cheat sheet, so you can print it out and put up somewhere as a reminder! But first, let’s look at all the noun forms.

The 4 noun forms

Swedish nouns have 4 forms; singular indefinite, singular definite, plural indefinite and plural definite.

singular indefinite (en hund a dog)

singular definite (hunden the dog)

plural indefinite (hundar dogs)

plural definite (hundarna the dogs)

The plural forms

The Swedish language have more plural endings than in the English language. In English, you mainly put an ‘s’ at the end of a noun to make it plural. Swedish nouns plural endings broadly group according to whether they are en or ett words and they also have sub-categories; three for en words (group 1-3) and two for ett words (group 4-5). Let’s go through the groups.

Group 1

This group contains en words that in singular indefinite ends on an ‘a’. They replace the ‘a’ with ‘or’ in plural indefinite and also add ‘na’ in plural definite.

en flicka a girl

flickan the girl

flickor girls

flickorna the girls

Group 2

In this group, we also find en words, but they will have some other endings. It’s usually short words ending on a consonant or ‘e’, or longer words that end on ‘ing’. These nouns take ‘ar’ in plural indefinite and add ‘na’ for plural definite.

en bil a car

bilen the car

bilar cars

bilarna the cars

 

en pojke a boy

pojken the boy

pojkar boys

pojkarna the boys

 

en tidning a newspaper

tidningen the newspaper

tidningar newspapers

tidningarna the newspapers

This group contains words that have a Scandinavian or Germanic origin, but that can sometimes be a little hard to tell, unless you are a language expert!

Group 3

The last of the en word groups mainly contain longer words ending on a consonant (although there are a few short ones in here too). They take ‘er’ in plural indefinite and also add ‘na’ for plural definite. Like this:

en apelsin an orange               

apelsinen the orange               

apelsiner oranges                

apelsinerna the oranges

In contrast to group 2, these words are international loan words and they often originate from English, French, Russian, Latin or other languages.

Group 4

Ett words that end on a vowel in singular indefinite belong to this group. They add ‘n’ in plural indefinite and add an ‘a’ for plural definite. For example:

ett piano a piano

pianot the piano

pianon pianos

pianona the pianos

Notice how the plural indefinite makes the word looks like a singular definite en word! This can be quite tricky, but you can look out for ’plural markers’ before the word, for example tre pianon three pianos, många pianon many pianos, några pianon some pianos.

Group 5

The fifth group contains ett words that end on a consonant in singular indefinite. These words take no ending for plural indefinite and add ‘en’ for plural definite.

ett hus a house

huset the house

hus houses

husen the houses

Can you see how the plural definite form makes the word looks a bit like a singular definite en word? This can be even harder than for group 4, so it is best to learn these words by heart.

Download our FREE Noun Plural Group Cheat Sheet for a visual model of these 5 groups, so you can remember them more easily.

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

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/

What can I expect from a Swedish lesson?

What are lessons with Swedish Made Easy like? How do we work, and what material do we use? How can you best prepare for your Skype lesson? In this blogpost we’ll look at what lessons with us usually look like.

Anneli Swedish Teacher

Our lessons usually include the following:

  • brief improvised conversation (to get used to real-life conversations)
  • going through homework together (to give you thorough feedback on your homework and a chance for you to ask questions if anything is unclear)
  • working together in the course material
  • new homework being given

Sometimes, some of these areas may be given more focus than others, but generally we balance our teaching between these aspects. We also focus on all 4 core skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing), and we can cater for all levels (from A1 to C2). We can also focus on very particular aspects, if a student needs to, such as writing CV’s, preparing for job interviews or presentations, or a specific core skill that needs extra attention, for example speaking confidence or pronunciation.

Daniel Swedish Teacher

We generally use course books like Rivstart, Form i fokus and Teach Yourself Complete Swedish. Click here for a list of the course material we tend to use.

A note on homework

It is important that you do your homework before the next lesson, if you want to progress your Swedish. It is of course fine to not do any homework, but you then need to accept that your progress will be significantly slower. This is why we always recommend getting used to doing homework after every Swedish lesson. This is the way for you to get more for your money! Interaction and contact are at a premium if you’re self-teaching, so try to stay focused to make the most out of your paid lessons.

You need to send your homework to your teacher before the next lesson. We encourage students to write their homework into template documents, which you will get access to when you start with us. After every third chapter in the course book Rivstart, you will do a diagnostic test to make sure you are ready to move further.

You also need to set aside some time to revise what you have already learnt. We recommend to budget approximately 2 hours after one Skype lesson. It’s good practice to break the revision into smaller chunks. This could for example be:

  • 30 min doing your homework for next lesson
  • 15-30 min practicing with flashcards the new words you have learnt during the lesson (Swedish Made Easy have several sets already available on Quizlet, but it’s also good to create your own)
  • 15-30 min practicing with flashcards words you have learnt previously
  • 30 min revising exercises you have done previously (for ex creating sentences using old vocabulary, recording your voice when you speak)

How to prepare for a Skype lesson

  • Do your homework
  • Research any vocabulary that you would like to talk about during the improvised conversation
  • Note down any questions or difficulties that have arisen from your homework or other self-practice, and ask us during the lesson
  • Make sure that your internet/wifi is quick enough and any IT equipment is working (headphones, computers, iPads, etc). Ideally have a Plan B if something stops working.
  • Make sure you are in a space where you can concentrate. It’s ok to sit in a space where there are others around, but please make sure they don’t interrupt the session!

Swedish lesson in progress

General Ground Rules

No matter where you are at in your journey with language tutors, these five tips are going to make your life better and easier when you’re working with a language tutor.

  1. Respect your language tutor and their time
  2. Be open and tell them about yourself
    • Your situation
    • Your experience
  3. Ask advice, they’re an expert!
  4. Budget for a few months, budget for your next language goal (time budget, financial budget)
  5. Decide how you want corrections to work (Do you want them to stop you immediately if you say something incorrect? Or is it more important for you to build your flow and make yourself understood?)

Finally: TRUST THE PROCESS

  • Don’t doubt yourself too much (we’ll get back to this point in future blog posts)
  • You won’t get significantly better just through a few tutoring sessions, but you will move forward towards your goals
  • Be realistic about the time it takes to learn Swedish to different levels (see our other blog post about this). You cannot become fluent in a couple of months.
  • Don’t expect the world – you cannot buy knowledge – only help, support and advice

Book a lesson

How long to learn Swedish

Many students ask how long it takes to learn Swedish. We have previously written a longer blog post about it, but we have now also worked out a little rough guideline to how many hours it usually takes to reach each language level. This is a very rough estimate, and can vary considerably between individuals, but it may at least give an idea of what to expect.

Let’s start by being honest and say that you will not be able to become fluent in Swedish in 1 or 2 weeks. Anyone claiming that it is possible, is simply lying. Language learning is a long process – a bit more like a marathon than a quick sprint. Be wary of claims that you can learn a language fluently in x days/months, there are no miracle methods. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

 

How long it takes to learn Swedish will depend on a number of factors. Some of them are individual learning pace in general, previous knowledge of grammar (those with much knowledge tend to progress faster), how much homework the learner is able to do between lessons (faster if more homework), and also if the learner has any particular areas that they find challenging.

The calculation below is based our students and how long people in general spend to reach each level. It takes into account whether the student is a slow, medium or fast learner, and also on how much time the learner spend doing homework and other things outside of the lessons. The more hours you spend learning outside of the tuition hours, the faster you will progress (and it will be cheaper for you too!).

The calculation is also roughly correlated to the guided learning hours according to Deutsche Welle for German, Cambridge English Language Assessment for English, and Alliance Française for French.

Swedish tuition hours for each level

The ‘slow’ number is in our opinion longer than most people need. It is quite common to be somewhere between fast and medium. Our fastest student reached level A1 after only 17 hours tuition on Skype! But some students have needed at least double the time. 

Soundcloud documentary: Who learns Swedish?

Who learns Swedish?

Earlier this year, I (Anneli) was contacted by Annika Beth Jones, a UK journalist student making her final year project: an audio documentary about the rise in Swedish learners during the past five years. She asked me if I wanted to participate in the documentary, to which I said yes!

Annika Jones

The documentary theme stemmed from Annika’s own experiences of learning Swedish, and that in the last 4-5 years the numbers of learners and online resources have exploded. Duolingo is currently recording over 5m registered learners, which considering that of the less than 10m living in Sweden 90% speak English, begs the question why the sudden popularity? Who learns Swedish?

Annika had spoken to lots of people with different reasons for learning, including relationships with Swedes, learning for the joy of it or the kudos – polyglots, refugees, those with Swedish ancestry they wish to connect to, those who have moved to Sweden for educational opportunities or simply because they love the idea of Sweden. These interviews would then be crossed with interviews with linguists, Swedish language youtubers, etc.

What she wanted to discuss with me firstly was some facts about Swedish itself. None of the language experts she had spoken to knew much specifically about Swedish. Annika was looking for someone to explain about the background/origins of Swedish and how it fits into the European language landscape.

She was also interested in my take on language learning, how it’s changed, what the future might hold and what that means for learners, teachers and eventually maybe the languages themselves.

One theme that had come up time and time again is that the world seems to be in love with the perceived culture of Sweden, so she was keen to discuss that and how accurate those perceptions are, how learning a language is a way of buying into that, etc. She asked: “As a Swede is it strange that so many people want to learn your language?”

We had a long, interesting conversation over Skype that we recorded, and you can now listen to the full documentary – Who learns Swedish – on Annika’s soundcloud profile. I think many will find this piece very interesting.

/Anneli

Interview with a Swedish learner – Jamie

This week’s interviewee is Jamie. He is 36 years old and from Ottawa, Canada. He moved to Stockholm in 2015 after meeting his wife. In some ways he says he is a typical Canadian- he loves Hockey and Maple Syrup!

He also loves his adopted homeland Sweden. He received his citizenship in 2018 and feels really proud to call Sweden home. According to Jamie, Sweden is a wonderful country, has wonderful people and beautiful nature. Jamie works at a tech company as their CSR Manager and also has his own hockey podcast which he does together with his wife.

What led you to want to learn Swedish?

I moved to Sweden in 2015 after I met my wife. I wanted to be able to speak Swedish so that all of her friends and family wouldn’t always have to switch the English whenever I was around. Plus I knew I would make this country my home so it was important for me to “come into Swedish society”, this can only be done by having an understanding of the language.

When and how did you start learning Swedish?

I started by going to SFI the first 2 months. While that gave me a basic vocabulary and understanding of simple conversations, it was simply not enough to get really better at the language. With a combination of Swedish Made Easy and forcing myself to practice, I was able to very quickly handle daily personal/work life in Swedish

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

I only speak Swedish with my wife’s friends and family and at work, my team speaks only Swedish and I answer in either Swedish or English depending on how technical the subject is.

What have been the challenges for you in learning Swedish?

The biggest challenges are simply finding the time to practice and learn. Sometimes one can be so tired that its hard to find time to sit down and study. Skype lessons are great for this because it’s an hour of dedicated learning. Another big challenge is that Swedes love to speak English so one must work hard to get over the Swedish mentality of “lets just speak English”.

What is your proudest moment as a Swedish speaker?

I have 2 proudest moments: 1- the first Christmas after I moved here, speaking only Swedish with my wifes parents for the entire holiday. 2 – The first time I could be funny while speaking Swedish, felt like I could finally not just speak it but also be myself.

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 as many lätt svensk books as you can- they are wonderful, like normal books but written in a more basic level of Swedish- I have read a lot of the Mankell books (Wallander). Its more manageable than trying to read a real book at the start.

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

Hmmm, I don’t really use any.

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

The biggest thing is you have to swallow your pride a little and accept that making mistakes and saying weird things is the price you pay for learning a new language. Its easy to be self-conscious when speaking a language at the start when you aren’t great at it- but honestly, people will never make fun of you, they appreciate that you are trying to learn their language. My wife, our friends and her family have all laughed together when I have said strange things- its hilarious and all part of the process. I feel compared to a lot of people, I was able to come into the language quite quick, I might not speak perfectly, but I understand everything and I can get my point across- the main reason for this has been my willingness to talk and practice in real situations. It gets easier every time.

This is also why Swedish Made Easy works so well- over time you develop a friendship with Anneli and Daniel and they become very easy to talk to because it’s a safe environment to practice and quite frankly make mistakes!

Writing and reading is also critical- pick up some lätt svensk books on your next vacation and just look up any words you don’t understand. Its great to see text written so you learn the nuances of the language, word order and expressions (there are tons in this language). Most of all remember why you wanted to learn Swedish and use that every day in your motivation!

 

Interview with a Swedish learner – Elena

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.

What led you to want to learn Swedish?

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!