Moving to a new country is not an easy task. Especially when it is a country that requires a new language.
Dozens of my friends have moved over here from places like Australia, America, New Zealand and Canada but the main difference is that moving do London did not require them to learn a new language. The last language that I learnt was German and that was some 20 years ago in school! But I was good and left with an ‘A’ grade.
Living in London and doing what I do it is difficult to find the time to attend language schools. So over the past two years I have been learning how to read and write Swedish and will say that I am more than fluent. I can now pick up a newspaper and read it with no problems at all and also writing is fairly much up to speed.
The problem though lies with speaking. Some days I am able to understand all that I hear on TV, other days it seems that aliens have sucked any Swedish intelligence from my very head. Of course I would love a pet Babel Fish (Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy) but alas we are still several thousands of years away from such technology…or are we?
I read with interest today that Google are going to begin trialling a new system on the Iphone/Android phones were someone who is a non English speaker will soon be able to have a telephone conversation with an English speaker with no problems at all. The aim is that someone will speak in say Swedish and then Google voice translation will translate this into English and speak it the other end.
Now whilst this is a wonderful way to overcome a very simple problem it clearly is not the answer. When I made the decision to move to Sweden learning all about the country and the language was my ultimate achievement. If you do not speak the language then basically you are going to be put in a very difficult situation, regardless of how many Swedes speak English.
I still have a year until I move so I will have more opportunities to learn. So far I’m hanging around the Harcourt Arms pub (great way to not only get drunk but also watch Swedish TV and hear Swedes talk), watching SVT highlights on my Iphone (though I don’t think that watching Dolph Lundgren clips is really helping that much).
No this summer I must master the language like my life depended on it. Because after all, it just may one day.