Interview with a Swedish learner – Carolina

Carolina comes from Spain, from a small town close to Barcelona. She did her PhD in Barcelona and moved to Umeå after that to work as a postdoc. Her research is focused on environmental radioactivity and peatlands. But that is not her only interests! She likes doing a lot of other (and, maybe, more normal) things.


During her free time she usually makes handmade crafts and also enjoys painting. She says she is not an expert but feels it is a nice way to relax and not think about science. She also really likes nature and tries to go hiking as often as she can. She is someone who likes smiling every single day and appreciates the small things in this world.



What led you to want to learn Swedish?

I got a position at the University of Umeå and moved there. Although all the Swedish researchers and employees speak perfect English, they usually talk in Swedish over fika or lunch time. Moreover, all the official documents and information that you get is in Swedish, as well as signs, labels in the products that you find at the supermarket, etc. So, I started to learn Swedish to understand what happens around me! And I also think that learning the culture and the language of the country were you are is quite interesting!

When and how did you start learning Swedish?

I started to learn Swedish as soon as I arrived to Sweden. The university offer some courses for free. But I thought that only one hour per week was not enough and I decided to take a course downtown which took place twice per week and two hours per lesson, and also some one-to-one lessons via Skype with Anneli.

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

I use the Swedish language every day. I try to talk to my colleagues and my boss at work and to some friends who know that I want to learn. I also try to write emails in Swedish. I force myself doing that because I think that trying and practising is the best method to learn a language. Maybe you make mistakes but realizing and correcting them is the best way for learning.

What have been the challenges for you in learning Swedish?

It has been a bit difficult for me to learn it since Swedish is completely different that Spanish. And it’s still hard because you realize how many dialects are here. But understanding official documents or meetings have been quite hard. The challenge maybe is also finding motivation sometimes and be consistent in your studies!

What is your proudest moment as a Swedish speaker?

My proudest moment as a Swedish speaker (and I will always remember this) is when I answered the phone in the office for the first time! When you talk to someone it is easier to understand because of the body language. But by phone… ufff! But I could understand and answer!! And I remember that, as soon as I hung up the phone, I ran to my colleagues and boss saying: I answered the phone in Swedish!!! I was soooo proud of 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!)

Rivstart is a really good book to learn Swedish.

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

Mmm I am quite bad with that… But the best option for me to learn Swedish is talking to Swedes!

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

My advice would say: Dont be shy and talk! Talk even you know that your Swedish is not perfect. I always say: “Hi! I am Carolina and my Swedish is maybe not so good. But I would like to try!” And Swedes are happy when they see that you are trying to learn Swedish. So… try try and try!

How long does it take to learn Swedish?

One of the most common questions that I get, and rightly so, is how long it takes to learn Swedish. Unfortunately, it is really difficult to say how long it will take for someone to make a certain progress, as there are a number of factors that come in to play. 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 course book that I work with for beginners, covers levels A1, A2, B1 and B2 (acc to the Common European Framework of References for Languages):

A1: Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.

A2: Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.

B1: Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. Can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken. Can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes & ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.

B2: Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialisation. Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party. Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.

Cambridge ESOL said that each level is reached with the following guided learning hours:

A1: 80-120

A2: 180-200

B1: 350-400

B2: 500-600

C1: 700-800

C2: 1,000-1,200

This is in my opinion longer than most people need. My fastest student reached level A1 after only 17 hours tuition on Skype! But some students have needed at least double the time. 

More hours per week obviously means faster progress. But it is not only about simply ‘clocking up’ the hours and do nothing in between, it is very important to revise things – often! Apparently, we forget 80% of what we have learnt within 24 hours, unless we revise. It is recommended to revise once after 10 minutes, after 1 day, after 2 days, after 1 week and after 1 month. It is also recommended that you study in short sessions and often, rather than do longer sessions more seldom. So, in other words, it is better to do 1 hour a day, than a 7 hour-session once a week.

How do you tend to study? Do you have any tips? If so, do comment in the comment box below – many people find it inspiring to read about other people’s study techniques.


20% off!


As a little treat, and to kickstart the new year, I am unveiling a discount offer – ta ta dadaaaa:

10 lessons for £199 (British Pounds)

Terms and conditions:

–Payment for all 10 in advance

– Valid for 14 weeks from the first booked

The offer is valid for new students as well as students who have already studied with me. If you wish to grab this offer, then e-mail me to let me know, and then book your lessons here.

My other prices can be found here.

Swedish lessons and prices for 2013

It’s a new year and I have just updated my lesson offers, and even stuck in a discount offer – 20% off! – see below. Here is a guide to what I can offer:

Swedish beginner level A1-A2

• Introduction to Swedish for beginners
• Start speaking from first lesson
• Focus on speaking and listening
• Basic grammar with focus on sentence construction
• Material used: Rivstart A1+A2, Mål 1, Form i fokus A, online material, PP slides, audio clips, youtube videos

Swedish intermediate level B1-B2

• Widening of vocab
• Accent reduction, speaking confidence
• Intermediate grammar
• Material used: Rivstart B1+B2, Mål 2, Form i fokus B, online material, PP slides, audio clips, youtube videos

‘Speak like a Swede’

• Conversational practice
• Accent reduction
• Modern, everyday expressions (including slang)
• Material used: mainly conversational, music, videos, comic strips

Swedish at work

• Developing specialised, technical vocab
• Business etiquette (e-mail communication, phone calls, formal meetings etc)
• Presentation skills
• Accent reduction

Swedish at university

• Developing an ‘academic voice’
• Building a specialised vocab in your discipline
• Presentation skills
• Accent reduction

Holiday essentials

• 5 hours in total for £99 (British Pounds)
• Completely conversation-based
• Quick phrase-based learning of essential phrases for being out and about in Sweden:
– Greetings, 1 hour
– Travelling, 1 hour
– Shopping, 1 hour
– Eating, 1 hour
– Emergency, 1 hour


Day rate (7 pm – 6 pm UK time, Monday-Friday):
from £25 (GBP), appr: $40 (USD) / €32 (EUR) / 260 kr (SEK) per hour (for individual students. Groups start at £30 per hour.)

Evening rate (6 pm – 10 pm UK time, Monday-Wednesday):
from £30 (GBP), appr: $48 (USD) / €38 (EUR) / 315 kr (SEK) per hour (for individual students. Groups start at £35 per hour.)

10 lessons for £199 (British Pounds) – 20% discount

• Terms and conditions:
– Payment for all 10 in advance
– Valid for 14 weeks from the first booked lesson