Can learning Swedish be fun? One student’s tips

Learning a new language is a challenge - especially when you have studies as well. But it can also be fun. NFGL student Ana Devdariani presents her experiences and tips for making Swedish 'fun-tastic'.

Can learning Swedish be fun? One student's tips

“To learn a language is to have one more window from which to look at the world,” one wise Chinese proverb tells us.

I decided to open a Swedish window for myself and started learning the Swedish language. In general, the language learning experience can be seen either as another learning routine, or as a fun experience – which it actually is.

From the very beginning, I started learning the language without setting up any routine. Nowadays we carry our smartphones everywhere; I tricked mine and changed its menu into Swedish. I found surprising how easy it was to understand the meaning of certain words. I implemented Swedish language in my art and music therapy as well; I listened to Swedish music and watched films only with Swedish subtitles. Soon enough I became familiar with the melody and dynamics of the language. Next step was translating the lyrics and paying more attention to the sentence structure.

After all of this had been done, the language sounded familiar and I had developed emotional and intellectual bonds with it. My motivation grew with every new word and I went online for getting some more.

Sweden has many immigrants from many countries, and as a result, the country facilitates language learning platforms and gives easy access to everyone who is willing to learn. Are you busy with your studies, work, or family?  It is not a language-learning barrier. There is no urgency when it comes to enrolling in the language course.  The results which I got from simply googling “learn Swedish” were beyond surprising.

Whole new experiences open up at, for instance. On this page you can find digital exercises in different fields. You can, read, listen and write at the same time.

On Lexin you can watch short videos about different occasions, listen to how Swedish people use useful vocabulary, and also practice your pronunciation. Is it difficult to understand certain words?  A broadly used and approved dictionary can be found here. Is English not your first language? – Neither is that a problem. The best part of this dictionary is amazing variety of support for foreign languages.

However, if you speak any Germanic language, try to use your native tongue first to access Swedish. Since both languages are from the same langue family, Swedish grammar and vocabulary will quickly become more familiar.

After reaching a certain level, I started translating Swedish into Swedish and searched for synonyms. Even when you cannot go online, you can access various pocket dictionaries with your smartphone. Very useful application for android owners is bug free, offline dictionary Folkets Ordbok.The equivalent to this app for Apple owners is Lexikon.

The first thing you notice about Swedish is its melodic articulation.  My final tip would be to embrace this melody and always dare to speak, work on pronunciation, and even to sing in Swedish.

If you are in Sweden and have reached the level which allows you to do basic shopping or just greet someone, avoid using any other language. Challenge yourself and practice with your Swedish friends. It will definitely please them and will give you even more motivation for opening this new window into the world.

Ana Devdariani 
NFGL student at Lund University

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SURVEY: Do Swedes consider the English language a threat to Swedish?

A new survey by Sweden's leading language magazine investigates to what extent Swedes believe that English poses a threat to the status of the Swedish language in Sweden.

SURVEY: Do Swedes consider the English language a threat to Swedish?

Since the end of the Second World War, English has been the dominant source of loanwords to Swedish, with English being introduced as the first foreign language learned in school at around the same time.

Now, around 33 percent of Swedes in a new study from Novus on behalf of Språktidningen said that they felt that English represented a threat to Swedish, although almost twice as many – 63 percent – answering that English did not pose any threat to Swedish.

“English influences are often singled out as a threat to the future of Swedish,” said Anders Svensson, editor-in-chief of language magazine Språktidningen. “However, there’s a generational divide in the view on English.”

“Among Swedes over 65, a total of 51 percent see English as a threat. Among those aged 30 to 49, only 23 percent see English as a threat.”

In 2009, measures were taken to protect Swedish against English influence through a language law. This states that Swedish is the common language of Sweden and that the population must have access to and be able to use it in all areas of society. Swedes are more or less able to take it for granted that they can use Swedish when they wish to, whether at the doctor, supermarket, or at a restaurant, and foreigners are offered free Swedish language classes.

“English loanwords which are often seen as unnecessary is one of the most common sources of linguistic irritation today,” Svensson said. “For some people, these loan words are a symbol of negative developments in society and increasing Americanisation.”

There are also differences among different groups of Swedish voters. A total of 41 percent of Sweden Democrat voters believe English represents a threat to Swedish, while only 25 percent each of Moderate, Left Party and Green Party voters were of the same opinion.

“The Sweden Democrats have made the Swedish language a symbolic issue for them,” Svensson said. “In the political debate, knowledge of the Swedish language is being linked ever more closely to Swedishness through connecting it to citizenship, for example.”

“Therefore it is perhaps easy to imagine that this party’s voters are also more worried about Swedish.”