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The free, fun tool for learning Swedish online

Learning Swedish on your own is easier than ever!

The free, fun tool for learning Swedish online
Photo: rawpixel/unsplash

Beginning a new life in Sweden, or in any new country is exciting, daunting, overwhelming but formidable all at once.

Perhaps one of the most daunting aspects is the language barrier. Of course, the only way to overcome this is to learn it! But how?

Informationsverige.se, a website that provides a tonne of info on Sweden for newcomers, has launched a new toolkit that makes it easier than ever to learn Swedish on your own.

Here are seven reasons to start learning Swedish online with Informationsverige.se’s new toolkit, Learn Swedish (Lära svenska)!

1. It’s totally free!

When you move to Sweden, you’re probably going to have a range of costs to think about – an ID card, a new phone contract, broadband, not to mention rent…there’s a whole lot of admin and it’s going to cost you money.

Learning Swedish with Informationsverige.se is completely free. Gaining a vital skill at no cost? Priceless. The real question here is why wouldn’t you use it?!

2. It’s available in multiple languages

The Informationsverige.se website itself – a top resource for immigrants of any kind – is available in a number of languages, from French to Arabic to Dari.

And that applies to the new Learn Swedish section, too! Access the course, glossaries, and information on meetups to practice with others.

Click here to visit Informationsverige.se

As it is, the site is pretty easy to navigate but understandably, having it in your native language just makes it that much simpler.

Convert the site into your native language and explore the other sections of the site too, like how things work in Sweden.

Take a look at what else the site has to offer here.

3. It’s simple and accessible

Whether you’re a complete beginner or if you’ve got those few handy phrases down, the free Learn Swedish training course will help you on your way to becoming fluent. The entire course is easily navigated so you can focus on language, not confusing controls.

Start with the first section – Hej Svenska 1 – where you will learn words for time, family, food, clothing, and other essentials. Hej Svenska 1 doesn’t require an ability to read, which makes it all the more accessible, whether you’re a newly-arrived asylum seeker or a researcher who’s been here for years without the time to learn the language. Learning to read Swedish is part of the curriculum, not a prerequisite.

4. Fun videos galore!

We all know textbook learning can get, well, a bit boring.

We say, enough with textbooks, let’s watch videos instead!

Maybe start with learning the alphabet, then perhaps master numbers, or maybe you already know all this and want to learn how to fill in a form. Either way, whatever you want to learn, there’s a video for it, with Swedes showing you an example of how it’s done.

5. It has all the important words in one place

The Lära svenska section of Informationsverige.se’s website features a glossary of Swedish words, in multiple languages, as we already mentioned. But it’s not just any old glossary, it’s a list of words used by Arbetsförmedlingen, the Swedish Public Employment Service. Because it will be a lot easier to get a job and get all your ducks in a row if you know what it means to “klargöra dina arbetsförutsättningar”.

Consult the glossary for all the important words and make looking through it a habit before any important meetings!

6. You can practice with others

As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. And if you’ve ever learnt a new skill, you’ll know this to be true.

While it can be helpful practicing with other learners, it doesn’t beat practicing with someone who’s fluent.

Welcome! is an app that helps newcomers integrate into their new environment by connecting natives with newcomers, giving newcomers the perfect opportunity to practice their new skills.

Learn more about life in Sweden with Informationsverige.se

Alternatively, local municipalities can help you find a language buddy, to get that all important language practice with a local.

Or, if you’re a parent, check out Svenska Med Baby. Through this, you can meet other parents and, of course, practice your Swedish!

Whatever your situation, Lära svenska at Informationsverige.se puts all the information in one place.

7. There’s more where that came from

Once you've reached the end of the course, you can carry on learning with Lingio, a website and app that makes learning Swedish fun by combining language learning and games. Learn Swedish from English, Arabic, Persian, Dari, Somalian or Tigrinya. You can practice spelling and sentence building, listen to pre-recorded words, dialogues and practice pronunciation. There is also a follow-on course, Hej Svenska 2, with slightly more advanced language and grammar.

As mentioned, the folks at Informationsverige.se are constantly developing new tools to ease your integration into Sweden. For instance, they present easy access to Arbetsförmedlingen’s resource jobskills.se, which helps prepare you for working in Sweden. Informationsverige.se also has a new section on parenting in Sweden.

The site aims to be a valuable resource for immigrants, so they’re always developing new things – so make sure to check back regularly for updates. 

This article was produced by The Local's Creative Studio and sponsored by the Country Administrative Boards of Sweden (Länsstyrelserna)

For members

SWEDISH LANGUAGE

What irritates Swedes the most about the Swedish language?

A new study shows that more than one in five Swedes is irritated by the pronoun "hen", and the same number can't stand it when compound words are split up. Here's a rundown of the main offenders.

What irritates Swedes the most about the Swedish language?

One in five Swedes dislike the gender-neutral pronoun hen

In the study, carried out by Novus on behalf of language magazine Språktidningen, 22 percent of Swedes said that the pronoun hen was the most irritating aspect of the Swedish language. 

The first reported use of the gender-neutral pronoun, to be used instead of han (he) or hon (she), was in the 1950s, when it was used by language professor Karl-Hampus Dahlstedt, but it didn’t appear in writing until linguist Rolf Dunås wrote a newspaper article in 1966 proposing the introduction of the new pronoun.

After that, use of the pronoun was mostly limited to those within the LGBT community until 2012, when a children’s book sparked debate and media attention thanks to the exclusive use of hen to refer to its characters.

In 2015, hen entered the Swedish dictionary, a move which made it more difficult for critics to argue that it wasn’t an established or accepted alternative to han or hon.

As Språktidningen’s editor-in-chief Anders Svensson points out in this article, the pronoun hen has had an ideological and political dimension since debate took off in 2012, and this is still clearly visible today.

Although 22 percent of the survey’s respondents listed hen as the most irritating aspect of the Swedish language, this number rose to a whopping 50 percent amongst respondents who identified with the Sweden Democrats.

On the other side of the political spectrum, those sympathising with the Left Party, the Greens, the Liberals or the Centre Party were least likely to find hen irritating, with a mere 5 to 7 percent of these groups putting it in first place.

Torbjörn Sjöström, CEO of polling company Novus, told Språktidningen that these results didn’t surprise him.

“The fact that hen is irritating for Sweden Democrat sympathisers more than others is not surprising. People join that party because they want things to be like they were in the past. A new word which is gender-neutral symbolises a lot of the developments these people are against,” he explained.

One in five against särskrivning

The same amount, 22 percent, stated that särskrivningar – writing compound words incorrectly as two separate words – annoyed them the most.

This may sound like a minor error, but särskrivningar (literally: “separate writing”) can lead to major misunderstandings. Just look at these amusing examples of särskrivning gone wrong:

En rödhårig kvinna: “a red-haired woman”

En röd hårig kvinna: a red, hairy woman

Kassapersonalen: “checkout workers”

Kassa personalen: “useless employees”

Barnunderkläder: “children’s underwear”

Barn under kläder: “child under clothes”

In contrast to debates over the use of the word hen, debates over särskrivning have raged since the 1800s, where they were often considered to be major mistakes if featured in a text. One reason for this, Svensson notes, is that order in itself was seen as beautiful at this time.

Maria Bylin, language advisor at the Swedish Language Council (Språkrådet), told Språktidningen that she recognises this argument in modern debate on särskrivningar.

“You associate developments in the language with the country and with society,” she explained. “So whatever changes you can see in the language, you think it will happen in society, too.”

One popular scapegoat for this increase in särskrivning is the influence of English on the Swedish language. In English, we have fewer compound words than in Swedish, although they do still exist: a few examples are postbox, doorknob and blackberry. It is, however, harder to form compounds than in Swedish.

To return to the examples above, it would look strange to write “redhairedgirl”, “checkoutworker” or “childrensunderwear” as compounds in English.

So, is the rise of English to blame for mistakes in Swedish? Not according to linguist Katharina Hallencreutz, who noted when studying high school students’ English essays that they had no issues writing English compound loan words such as makeup or popcorn. 

This also wouldn’t explain the large amount of särskrivningar seen in historical texts in Sweden: they feature heavily in laws dating back to the 1200s, as well as Gustav Vasa’s Swedish bible translation, which was published in 1541.

One surprising result of the survey was the fact that young people were more likely than older people to find särskrivningar irritating:

“That surprised me a bit,” Svensson told public broadcaster SVT. “Often you hear the argument that older people think young people write carelessly and särskriver too much.”

Svensson wasn’t sure why this was, but did have a theory: “I suppose those who have recently finished school – most of them have learnt when words should be written as one word, and when they should be separate,” he told SVT.

English loanwords

The influence of English on the Swedish language was a major bugbear for a number of respondents, though. As many as 15 percent of those in Novus’ survey answered that “unnecessary English loanwords” were the most irritating thing about modern Swedish.

English loanwords were most irritating amongst Swedes over 65, where 29 percent stated they were the number one source of irritation, a number which was much lower in other age groups.

Lena Lind Palicki, a Swedish lecturer at Stockholm University, said that this could be to do with comprehensibility. She noted that irritation over English loanwords was especially high amongst older respondents who had left school at 16.

“We can assume that these people have a lower level of English, and then it’s a democratic problem, if English loanwords are used which can be difficult for many people to understand,” she told Språktidningen.

Palicki can’t imagine that English will remain as large a source of annoyance in the future as it is now, though.

“The irritation over English loanwords may have gone out of date in twenty years. Today’s youth will not start to be irritated by the same things as today’s elderly, but they’ll probably start making a symbolic issue of things they struggle with in school today,” she told the magazine.

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