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The Local _ Life in Sweden _ Frustrated trying to learn Swedish

Posted by: anouka 22.Feb.2012, 03:05 PM

I have been studying by myself and I am trying my best, but don't seem to be allowed to speak swedish. I have gone past SFI level when I did their test and am waiting to start SAS B at kom vux.

I am english speaking and anywhere I go and try to speak in swedish they reply in english. Even in my tests at SFI and kom vux to assess my swedish ability they switched to english! I go to a sprakcafe and one of the swedish guys changed to english and informed me that my swedish was poor. Even my sambo won't speak to me in swedish as he doen't have the patience and on his nicer days laughs at me. My reading and writing in swedish is good, but how on earth can I improve speaking if no one will let me and makes me feel like s***. As you can imagine this has destroyed my confidence, making me nervous, so make more mistakes. Everytime someone replies to me in english I just interpret that as 'your swedish is too rubbish for us to speak in'. Maybe I am being too sensitive, but I also think that it is slightly rude.

I was hoping to do the TISUS test, but can't ever see myself getting to that level. It seems that I have to be fluent for a swedish person to deem that I am worth talking to in swedish. Did other english speakers have this problem? How do you get over it? Is just sheer pigheadness needed? Please don't flame me as I really am finding this constant discouragement upsetting.

Posted by: gplusa 22.Feb.2012, 03:33 PM

When they start speaking English, continue with Swedish. Regardless. I used to have to do that a lot. Play chicken and don't give an inch. You'll beat them every time. If you really want to cut them down to size, ask them, in Swedish, if they aren't able to speak Swedish. An embarassed Swede is a glorious sight. You're right, it's frickin rude, and I don't personally want to listen to their crappy high school English. They can listen to my shit Swedish instead.

As for your sambo, slap him around the ears. Explain to him that he's actually making life for you worse by choosing not to help you. That's the only way I got my Swedish wife to stop speaking English. Lay the guilt on.

Good luck jumping straight from SFI to Svenska B. It's a huge step. Very brave.

Posted by: klubbnika 22.Feb.2012, 03:37 PM

"Everytime someone replies to me in english I just interpret that as 'your swedish is too rubbish for us to speak in'. Maybe I am being too sensitive, but I also think that it is slightly rude. "

You are right on both points.

Yet, continue speak Swedish with them and say that you don't understand their English and they should speak Swedish with you.

Posted by: kaylo77725 22.Feb.2012, 04:20 PM

They do the same thing in Denmark but with Danish of course.It is discouraging but just keep trying. You just keep speaking Swedish it is the only way you will learn.

Posted by: Puffin 22.Feb.2012, 04:27 PM

I think that it is a difficult proble for both sides - for historical reasons until very recently Swedes were unused to hearing their language spoken badly with strange accents and attempts at pronounciation so many find it hard to understand pidgin Swedish smile.gif

One think you could do is to do something where you *have* to speak Swedish whether it is going to an evening class, joining a sports club or volunteering at the charity shop - by forcing yourself into Swedish speaking environments it will also force you to speak more - although it will be tough when people speak full speak *non immigrant* Swedish

When you start your SAS course you could find out whether there is an opportunity to study other subjects alongside Swedish - trying to discuss History or politics in Swedish is often a help for learning the language

Posted by: Snood 22.Feb.2012, 04:29 PM

I have quite the opposite problem. my colleagues and friends insist on talking Swedish at me even though they know i've only been to a few SFI classes so far. It's all in good humour though luckily.

I worry very much about attempting to speak any Swedish in front of anyone. I'd happily give a 2 hour talk in English in front of a lecture theatre full of people but as soon as I try Swedish I feel very unsure of myself, even more unsure of my pronunciation and worry about what they'll think.

Posted by: klubbnika 22.Feb.2012, 04:40 PM

#5 "for historical reasons until very recently Swedes were unused to hearing their language spoken badly with strange accents "

Very recently? At least two generations are raised with a lot of immigrants around.

It's all down to rudeness and impatience. They want you to be patient to their crap English but they will haunt you even for a slightest accent in Swedish all your life.

Posted by: kingston 22.Feb.2012, 05:13 PM

QUOTE (anouka @ 22.Feb.2012, 03:05 PM) *
I am english speaking and anywhere I go and try to speak in swedish they reply in english.

Ive lived here for over 20 years and people still reply in English to me because of my accent. I just carry on speaking Swedish. Mind you i hardly ever speak English anymore so im losing my language. Time for a trip back to the UK to charge the batteries

Posted by: gplusa 22.Feb.2012, 05:15 PM

You'll get people telling you that you should stick with your most comfortable language at home, as the level of conversation will drop off with your partner when you switch to Swedish. Other people will say that's not necessarily a bad thing. I won't tell you which camp I'm in. What I will say, as someone who took the "going cold turkey" option, is that it's only a short term problem. Until your confidence increases. My Swedish wife and I speak Swedish 99+% of the time. We're both comfortable enough with the rules now that it's no great issue if we switch to English to talk about something indepth which is beyond my Swedish level. Once we've dealt with what ever it was that I've done wrong, we switch back to Swedish again. It's actually automatic now. A conversation can often start off in Swedish, have an English section in the middle when we discuss my parentage, and then finish off in Swedish again. It's a hassle at first, but it's made a little easier when you both understand that it's to help you.

Accept also that you'll always sound like a foreigner. That's a physical thing that you can't change as an adult. You'll never sound like a Swede, but that's ok. Most Swedes sound like B grade movie actors with their accents when they speak English. My wife used to be accused of being South African when we lived in New Zealand.

Posted by: klubbnika 22.Feb.2012, 05:19 PM

Then there is the wonderful third option - speak Swenglish. smile.gif

Posted by: gplusa 22.Feb.2012, 05:23 PM

Oh, I do that all the time. Take an English word and Swedishise it by moving the stress or adding a Swedish suffix. The good thing about Swedish is that you've got a 50/50 chance of getting quite closer to the correct Swedish word if you try that.

Posted by: anouka 22.Feb.2012, 08:11 PM

Phew, it's not just me then and not a sign that I am truly awful at the language. I have inherited the wussy politeness english gene so I need to work on being able to just plough on in swedish with a smart comment. Good suggestions from you: yep, the other half needs a kick up the pants and a club would be a good idea. Both of those I can do. Also thicker skin needs to be grown smile.gif

Posted by: gplusa 22.Feb.2012, 08:26 PM

Yup, don't go beating yourself up. You're just as aweful as the rest of us.

The key to being understood in spoken Swedish (or in any language, really) is not to worry about pronouncing the letters perfectly, but to get the stress and melody right. No one really listens to the words that you say, they listen to the tune. The brain then rustles through it's pile of notes and pulls out the word that matches the music. So focus on really stressing hard the right letter in the word and you'll find life gets a lot easier. Even if it feels like you're over stressing it. English is a very lazy language, so stressing letters is going to feel and sound weird. You'll also understand people better if you apply the same theory. Listen for the music and it gets a lot clearer.

Posted by: ElijahBenjamin 22.Feb.2012, 09:07 PM

Just start off by saying: This is going to sound terrible but...then start speaking Swedish. They usually will let you speak Swedish if you make a joke out of the fact that you are foreign and you are not going to get it right!! Also end every short conversation by saying: 'Was I correct?' in Swedish to them.

Also try walking into the Centrum and quite literally refuse to speak English. If you do not make it clear that you would rather speak Swedish, no one will make the effort with you, but from what I have found people here will let you practice with them for a few minutes if you approach them properly. The people in the centrum have started to warm to me and I am now known as the short friendly black dude from London who wants to learn Swedish. They all seem to find me entertaining and seem impressed that I want to learn Swedish.

You need to socialise with these guys, personally either you are not making a big enough effort or you are just shy and might need to come out of your shell a little. One trick I have found when communicating with people here is to keep the conversation light and only ever ask them one question about themselves and each time you see them, continue to keep your small talk short and light and then ask them another question. I reckon patient communication with not just native Swedes, but also Swedes of immigrant descent is most likely the best way to talk them. But what is obvious is that you have to make the effort to improve your Swedish. We are unlucky in that it seems that everyone knows how to speak English to some degree, but imagine if you met someone who was trying to speak English and they said something like : 'I is speaking English.' Would you want to have a conversation with that person? That is why you make a joke out of the fact that you are learning and that you Swedish is probably going to suck.

Today, I was in the Centrum and I went to a middle-eastern owned cornershop, so to speak. Those guys have gotten to know me over the past few months. I said: Jag skulle vilja ha en kompis kontaktkort (Spelling error? Most likely). Det kostar sjuttiofem (Possible spelling error) kronor. But then I went: 'Wait for the encore fellas' and then slipped back into to Swedish by saying: Är du snälla.

Those guys and everyone else here only let me speak Swedish because I insist on it, therefore I conclude that anyone who experiences the problem of 'I can't practice my Swedish' simply isn't trying hard enough. Sorry, but you know it is true.

Posted by: ElijahBenjamin 22.Feb.2012, 09:26 PM

Oh and if they do tell you your Swedish sucks, just tell them their English sucks too but say it in a jokey way. One of my cousin's boyfreind's, lovely fella from Eskilstuna told me my Swedish is bad. I didn't cry, yes it was rude but I know him well enough to to know he wasn't trying to hurt my feelings. Just state we are in Sweden, so we will speak Swedish. I have another cousin and her boyfriend is really encouraging with me, he was impressed at the fact that I would go to the library and actually try and read Swedish children's books. My cousin also introduced me to her native Swedish friends, only one of them was willing to help out, but she was the cutest one so no problem there smile.gif. She is encouraging me too. My whole family is encouraging me. But these people are only willing to do that for you if you show them you will shed blood just trying to learn the language. Grow thick skin, get your self out there and learn Swedish the painful way. Don't retreat, advance.

You need to be pumping your mind, watching SVT (only); Reading the Metro; Listening to the radio; Listening to them on the trains and buses; Be curious for instance, Hallonbergen what the hell does that mean? Live in your head if that is what you want to do, imagine you are Neo from the Matrix and you are just trying to work it all out; But most importantly, you have to be ballsy about it. Do whatever you can to get your self out of your current mental state and just try.

This clip may help pick up your spirits:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5g8rjdsgRQ

Teaches you how to try and control what your mind focuses on.

Posted by: klubbnika 23.Feb.2012, 10:30 AM

Even the Swedish royals speak Swenglish (svengelska).

The headline for SvD:

"Prins Daniel efter förlossningen: ”Känslorna all over the place” " biggrin.gif

Posted by: DaveN 23.Feb.2012, 12:21 PM

Hardly anyone in the village here (pop. 8) speaks english, so they've had no choice but to listen to my swedish. But over the years they have managed to 'tune in' to it, just like we do when listening to shite english - wrong tense etc. But if people are happy to talk english to me, then I'm happy. The swedish will come eventually.

On the odd occasion that someone has commented on how bad my swedish is, then I revert to really fast english full of slang - just to see how they like it.

Posted by: Leonie 23.Feb.2012, 12:38 PM

For me I hadn't been In the country for 6years my pronunciation use to be very good,November iwas back In Sweden ordered a sandwich and drink in Swedish and Got a reply in english I continued in Swedish till good bye, I felt it was very rude, but I was not giving in.

Posted by: Ankinette 23.Feb.2012, 12:39 PM

Conversation groups could increase your confidence smile.gif http://www.meetup.com/intercambio/events/47870752/

Posted by: Willy 23.Feb.2012, 01:16 PM

First make sure that your Swedish is actually understandable. Subtle differences in pronunciation that might seem insignificant to native English-speaking ears might make the difference between being understood or not.

Some common mistakes that native English speakers make, observed by this amateur linguist:

-- Pronouncing long vowels as diftongs,: for example, long o and long e sound like ou and ei to Swedish ears.
-- Reducing unstressed short vowels to schwa-like sounds. You don't do that as much in Swedish.
-- Not getting the prosody right. Pitch accent and stressing the right word of the sentence is extremely important to sound natural (or even be understood) in Swedish.

Posted by: Brunette Babe 5 23.Feb.2012, 04:22 PM

schwa? smile.gif

I think the OP's sambo is rude.

Posted by: Willy 23.Feb.2012, 04:47 PM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schwa
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mid-central_vowel

The vowel-at-large in the middle of your mouth that many unstressed vowels turn into in English. Written as an upside-down e in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). Is has a strange name, apparently it came from Hebrew through German.

Posted by: james1664 23.Feb.2012, 05:02 PM

Hi there, you could also use www.babbel.com

You need to pay 70SEK a month but the courses are well worth it, I have been using it for a while and because their is constant sound, you get the intonation correct. After that people will speak swedish with you.

If you get the usual pricks trying to speak English to you just talk only in english, 'cup of cha please' always results in them reverting back to Swedish. The other alternative is to say politely in english ' sorry I really don't understand your bad english very well then speak in Swedish. I have found the staff then get angry and immediately blast you with Swedish, exactly what you want!

Posted by: Fishtank 23.Feb.2012, 05:21 PM

QUOTE (gplusa @ 22.Feb.2012, 05:15 PM) *
Once we've dealt with what ever it was that I've done wrong, we switch back to Swedish again.


LOL!!! How true mate!!

OP>> After SFI, direct SAS B?? Quite a jump in levels me thinks.

May be join the skype group someone formed and chat with them... Read books and watch English shows on Swedish TV with subtitles.
It will increase your level of patience for crap programs as well as improve swedish skills.

Lycka till.

Posted by: klubbnika 23.Feb.2012, 05:24 PM

It's even better to watch SVT with swedish subtitles so you can make a connection between how the words are written and spoken.

Posted by: cattie 24.Feb.2012, 09:22 AM

@Willy makes some important points. Prosody is often a big problem for others to understand you.

My first place in Sweden was on Karlbergsvägen. I thought this was quite easy to pronounce, compared to some street names in Sweden. Yet, no one knew what I was saying when I gave the address. I recall a particularly drawn-out explanation with a taxi driver. I wound up trying to geographically orienting them by saying by S:t Eriksplan or having to spell it out. Then they would say (as if they just found their lost car keys) "Ahhh! KarlBErgsVÄgen."

The rhythm and prosody really matter in Swedish, Swedish sings. English is flater than Swedish and if you don't feel a bit uncomfortable speaking/singing Swedish, you probably are not well-understood. If you feel like you are making fun of the Swedish language then you are probably just sounding right.

Posted by: dave.smith 24.Feb.2012, 09:40 AM

Anouka, don't get all down in the dumps. Take a look at my posting history, you'll see some horrible (written swedish) and during that period my spoken swedish was even worse. Now, I am perhaps better in swedish than english, people who don't know I am british are surprised to learn that I am, and I only started learning in my late 20s. You may get to the point even as a forgeiner where your swedish is just as good as most swedes. Don't let the negative nancies get you down.

Now I speak almost only swedish at the office (although ebglish is used because we have international clients). At first when people spoke swedish I had to poke my buddy in the back and ask him what they said, even if it was a common phrase.

It sounds like you are on much better footing than I was when I first started out. Don't give up. smile.gif

Posted by: dockmandock 24.Feb.2012, 09:43 AM

I just don't bother with Swedish. I have learnt it, but it has been all self-taught, as not one single Swede has helped me.

I can communicate in Swedish. I use Swedish in shops, etc. Over the years less and less people in stores etc have switched to English with me, nowadays almost never, so I am quite proud of that. If they do switch to English I just go with it and switch as well.

But with my Swedish friends I just speak English. Most of them have either lived in the US or UK, work for international companies or study/have studied at a high level in English (i.e. using English academic texts on university courses). A lot of them are "Anglophiles" and fans of British music and TV shows. They are bi-lingual; I am not. They want to speak English with me and that's the language we communicate best in.

Posted by: gplusa 24.Feb.2012, 09:43 AM

That's where going to school is invaluable. And not just "reading kids books". Don't know who dreamed up that gem of advice. Sweden is very different from English in the way it combines several words to form one word. English does that on a small scale, but not as common as it is in Swedish. Most English speakers make the mistake of trying to pronounce the Swedish word as a single entity, instead of breaking it up into it's original forms and applying the correct stress to each of those small words as if you were saying them on their own. As cattie's taxi driver did. It's not enough to simply learn the word. You have to be able to recognise and understand the root words which make up the finished word. I remember sitting at a project meeting and reading the word "Huvuddel" several times. I recall scratching my head and thinking "what the f*** is an "uddel" ? Felt a right twit when I figured it out. Fortunately I hadn't asked anyone.

Posted by: kiaat 27.Feb.2012, 11:31 AM

I remember when I started speaking German in Berlin on my exchange course. Most of my friends preferred to benefit from my English and we invariably stuck to English.
But slowly over time my German got good and then it was more comfortable to speak German with them. Some of them kept at the English. Some of them switched back to German.
I believe the same to be true here in Sweden. As soon as your Swedish reaches a sound level then you will not have a problem. To get there it is helpful to have friends and close people to interact with you, but your focus should be learning at school. I think it is the easy way out to say that others do not get you the chance. I got into huge arguments with my partner over this topic and it will never go away... until I speak fluently. Which I fully intend to one day!

Posted by: ElijahBenjamin 27.Feb.2012, 02:29 PM

QUOTE (gplusa @ 24.Feb.2012, 09:43 AM) *
That's where going to school is invaluable. And not just "reading kids books". Don't know who dreamed up that gem of advice. Sweden is very different from English in the way it combines several words to form one word. English does that on a small scale, but not as common as it is in Swedish. Most English speakers make the mistake of trying to pronounce the Swedish word as a single entity, instead of breaking it up into it's original forms and applying the correct stress to each of those small words as if you were saying them on their own. As cattie's taxi driver did. It's not enough to simply learn the word. You have to be able to recognise and understand the root words which make up the finished word. I remember sitting at a project meeting and reading the word "Huvuddel" several times. I recall scratching my head and thinking "what the f*** is an "uddel" ? Felt a right twit when I figured it out. Fortunately I hadn't asked anyone.

Reading children's books is a good idea mixed in with a book on Swedish grammar, language cds that are thorough, classes and a lot of enthusiasm. The idea of reading children's books is that after a while you move up a level and start reading books for Swedish teenagers, until you get to the point where you can read novels by famous Swedish authors. It may sound pedantic, but it is still a good idea. Reading books on grammar is a good idea because those are the kind of books that will explain everything you need to know.

Posted by: Streja 27.Feb.2012, 05:26 PM

My sambo bought a book on phrasal verbs. Very good! If I could only find it.

I still think many Swedes are not nice when they speak English to people who make an effort. I still get angry when they want to speak English to my sambo. The silliest thing is when I'm with like three Swedes and my sambo is the only one who is English. And they speak English to me as well! It's so silly. They then get confused when I speak Swedish and my sambo as well.

Posted by: BritVik 27.Feb.2012, 06:04 PM

QUOTE (ElijahBenjamin @ 27.Feb.2012, 02:29 PM) *
Reading children's books is a good idea . . .

When I came here, there was only Swedish for Foreigners available, and my teacher quickly became enamoured with a Canadian boy in the group, who then got full attention and we others ended up right out in the cold. End of course for me after 5 evenings. Since when I have simply picked it up as kids do. EB's comment about kid's books is very good. It gives you the 'small words' that are often hopped over in class.
I learned technical Swedish fast, and got into trouble from my workmates because I could correct their texts on drawings long before I could speak Swedish. They were not amused!
Do not despair. Even after over 50 years here, people still ask me where I come from in England!! It still comes through when I speak Swedish - as I do - to all but my daughter and grandsons.
Swedish is not an easy language, and consists of many sounds that are truly foreign to us foreigners. A 'K' that can be a k or a sh presents difficulties, and there are so many regional variations that add to our difficulties. Try asking the way to Kristianstad - only to learn that it sounds more like Krishanstad, or Skärhamn on the island of Tjörn, which the locals pronounce as Skeerham.
There are pitfalls everywhere, and the only way to overcome them is to jump in with both feet, and take a chance. You have a great advantage that I never had. You have learnt Swedish grammar. Now you need to put it into verbal practice, so don't give in to anyone trying to go over to English. Your only way to learn is by speaking - yes and making mistakes. But persevere my friend. I say that to all here who may still have problems with Swedish.
We shall overcome - the language to some extent at least. laugh.gif
laugh.gif

Posted by: Streja 27.Feb.2012, 06:13 PM

Tjörn, an island full of monkeys and thieves. Ask any Bohuslänning.

Posted by: BritVik 27.Feb.2012, 06:52 PM

Now that is generalising, and absolutely of no help to Anouka. She is hardly likely to visit the island, since they have just a slight tendency to speak their own language there.

Problems speaking Swedish - they even have that on the island. Many Bohuslänningar need a translator when visiting, and that when Bohuslänska is almost a language of its own, seemingly a combination of Swedish, Norwegian and even English, dating from the granite and herring era. You do not have to be a foreigner on the west coast, to have language problems. wink.gif

Posted by: Streja 27.Feb.2012, 06:59 PM

Hehe... wink.gif

I have sent you a private message.

Posted by: ElijahBenjamin 28.Feb.2012, 09:08 PM

By the way, I am not on SFI. I am going to classes at a Swedish Church, but the classes are not helpful. I had to look for linguistic professors who have written about the Swedish language. In my opinion, you have to start with the grammar before even learning new words. You need to understand the mechanics of the language and that is why I am able to pick it up quickly. That mixed in with my cockney confidence smile.gif

I highly doubt I could effectively learn any language in a classroom because I was always the quickest learner in the class, my current class is made up of students who have never seen a European alphabet or heard European sounds and as such they need to recieve the teachers full attention. The rest of the class is made up of people who don't want to even learn Swedish and then there is me, however I must say that (säger, att smile.gif ) the middle-eastern students are fascinating because of the way in which they get to grips with the language. They are impressive.

I liken learning Swedish to practicing your lines for a new role you are about to take up in a stage-play. Learn the fundamentals, get a strong foundation and then build your self a mansion. It's a technical ability, that is all it is.

Posted by: Stebro 28.Feb.2012, 10:19 PM

you could listen to swedish music and watch programmes at svt with subtitles, that helped when I learned english at least:P

Posted by: erik68 28.Feb.2012, 11:02 PM

QUOTE (Streja @ 27.Feb.2012, 04:26 PM) *
I still think many Swedes are not nice when they speak English to people who make an effort.

Are you sure it's done to be deliberately difficult?

I've been learning Polish for some time and the same thing happens to me when we visit Poland. They speak fast, I don't since I'm still learning, so some people who can speak some English think I feel more comfortable if we switched to conversation to English. It can be irritating at times, but I wouldn't say that that was trying to be difficult. If it's family and friends, then I just tell them that I need them to be patient with me. A bit harder to do with shop staff etc.

Posted by: Mbenzi 29.Feb.2012, 02:56 AM

The first reply (from "gplus a") may sound bold but I think it is correct.
People just welcome the opportunity to speak English, and they become rude enough to forget about your needs.

A language is so much more than a glossary and a grammar - when you live with people in a foreign country and learn their language, you also transform part of your thinking into becoming a changed person. Your soul is affected.

I am an engineer and have a technical job. But I taught English and Swedish in the past, also SFI for some years.

I can only say that you are right and they are wrong. Try to make your boyfriend understand that.

Posted by: darreldj 29.Feb.2012, 07:59 AM

For working on pronunciation I started watching shows on www.svtplay.se. I turn on the subtitles so I can follow along with what they are saying and how they are saying it, pause and look up any words I don't know, and repeat what they've said trying to imitate the accent as much as I can. Most of the shows are sh*t but that's beside the point.

I did SFI through distance so this was a huge help for me as I had no classroom conversation. People would always switch to English with me too but now it's pretty much all Swedish, with a few exceptions of course.

Joining a club or sports team is also an excellent idea.

Posted by: gplusa 29.Feb.2012, 08:23 AM

I based my "tough love" decision (to completely drop English) on my personal observations whilst attending SFI classes. I observed the progress around me of those people who were in Sweden alone, of those who were fluent in English (native or otherwise), and those who did not share a common fluent language with their partner. I noted that those students who were not fluent in English progressed much more quickly in their Swedish language studies than those who could use English as an effective form of communication. That led me to the conclusion that I was making use of English and that my comfort level with English was holding me back. As long as I already had an alternative means of communicating with my partner, the incentive for me to learn Swedish was not as great as it could be. In dropping English, and being forced into embracing Swedish in order to survive, my rate of learning increased instantly and dramatically. I'm sure that there are people out there who are self disciplined enough to go through the process without taking the drastic steps I did, and good luck to them. I thought that I was, before I found out that I wasn't.

Posted by: Baned 29.Feb.2012, 11:00 AM

QUOTE (anouka @ 22.Feb.2012, 03:05 PM) *
It seems that I have to be fluent for a swedish person to deem that I am worth talking to in swedish. Did other english speakers have this problem? How do you get over it? Is just sheer pigheadness needed? Please don't flame me as I really am finding this constant discouragement upsetting.

I'm Asian, and people seem to think I'm from Thailand and can't speak English, although I'm American. Though it's annoying, it doesn't really matter in the end, but I do wonder if that's the reason why strangers are more apt to speak to me in Swedish. So no, I don't have that problem at all - quite the opposite, actually.

Since the day I stepped foot into this country, people expected me to already know Swedish. As in, they would talk to me in Swedish, email me in Swedish (to help me practice) and imply that Swedish is an "easy language" and I should be fluent within a month! No joke.

The result was it didn't motivate me to learn Swedish. In fact, it demotivated me. When you use a language to EXCLUDE someone, and the person is an adult, there's a high chance of offending them. I come from a culture of non-conformity, so no, I will not try my hardest to be part of the "group" when I've been constantly ignored and talked over. I was once told by a retired teacher that it took many years for her adopted niece to speak to them in Swedish -- I could not fathom the idea that people can just ignore someone for years and expect them to just comply and conform, even if it is a child.

But I digress. So yeh, at least they're putting effort into communicating with you. It could be worse!

Posted by: Puffin 29.Feb.2012, 11:17 AM

I think that there are benefits of putting yourself into an immersion situation where you are forced to speak Swedish - people often think they are being helpful by speaking English instead of watching you "struggle"

For example after SFI I fought for the right to take GRUV (with Swedes) rather than SAS grund as I found it hard to make the jump from slow "immigrant Swedish" lessons to the way people spoke in normal life - especially when you don't speak Swedish at home

If you have a Swedish OH perhaps agree on certain days each week to only speak Swedish no matter how tough it gets

I also went to some evening classes taught in Swedish - very tough going but useful - perhaps start with a practical class though before you move on to literature wink.gif

Posted by: Spuds MacKenzie 13.Mar.2012, 01:35 AM

@baned - that is exactly my experience here as well! Every Swede I've encountered expects me to be fluent in Swedish after a month or two of living here! They can all speak perfect English in Uppsala, and my American accent is very obvious, yet it is very rare that anyone talks to me in anything other than Svenska.

I also feel the same way in my SFI course: it moves waaaaay to fast and too much is expected of those of us who are not good at learning a foreign language.

Posted by: gplusa 13.Mar.2012, 08:24 AM

Spuds, with SFI you can control your pace of learning. If your goal is just to get a certificate, then you can race through it by learning the bare minimum in order to scrape through an exam. And there are those who choose to do that. Or you can decide to take longer, in order to really understands the fundementals and, more importantly, retain that knowledge. There are a number of ways to do that. You can simply tell your teacher that you're not comfortable with the pace of the class and you'd like to move to another class. I had a couple of classmates who did exactly that. We all got shuffled up to a higher level class together. After a couple of weeks they felt that they were really struggling, to the point where they were not actually learning a lot, and asked to move back to their former class. That was not a problem. I was also struggling at the time. I'd never learnt a language before and it was becoming rapidly clear to me that it wasn't something I had a natural flair for. I decided to stay where I was in the advanced class, but not to try and keep pace with some of the other students. I took longer to complete my assignments, and held off taking the national tests for a while. There is no time limit for SFI and it's the only time that you're going to be able to learn Swedish in a relatively non stressful environment. Take as long as you need and don't let the teacher dictate your pace. The course is there for your benefit, not their's.

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