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Frustrated trying to learn Swedish

Don't seem to be allowed to speak Swedish

anouka
post 22.Feb.2012, 03:05 PM
Post #1
Joined: 22.Feb.2012

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.
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gplusa
post 22.Feb.2012, 03:33 PM
Post #2
Location: Luleå
Joined: 4.Sep.2009

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.
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klubbnika
post 22.Feb.2012, 03:37 PM
Post #3
Joined: 1.Feb.2012

"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.
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kaylo77725
post 22.Feb.2012, 04:20 PM
Post #4
Joined: 3.Sep.2011

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.
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Puffin
post 22.Feb.2012, 04:27 PM
Post #5
Location: Dalarna
Joined: 5.Apr.2006

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
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Snood
post 22.Feb.2012, 04:29 PM
Post #6
Location: Gothenburg
Joined: 20.Sep.2011

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.
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klubbnika
post 22.Feb.2012, 04:40 PM
Post #7
Joined: 1.Feb.2012

#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.
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*kingston*
post 22.Feb.2012, 05:13 PM
Post #8


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
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gplusa
post 22.Feb.2012, 05:15 PM
Post #9
Location: Luleå
Joined: 4.Sep.2009

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.
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klubbnika
post 22.Feb.2012, 05:19 PM
Post #10
Joined: 1.Feb.2012

Then there is the wonderful third option - speak Swenglish. smile.gif
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gplusa
post 22.Feb.2012, 05:23 PM
Post #11
Location: Luleå
Joined: 4.Sep.2009

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.
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anouka
post 22.Feb.2012, 08:11 PM
Post #12
Joined: 22.Feb.2012

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
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gplusa
post 22.Feb.2012, 08:26 PM
Post #13
Location: Luleå
Joined: 4.Sep.2009

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.
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ElijahBenjamin
post 22.Feb.2012, 09:07 PM
Post #14
Location: Stockholm county
Joined: 23.Nov.2011

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.
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ElijahBenjamin
post 22.Feb.2012, 09:26 PM
Post #15
Location: Stockholm county
Joined: 23.Nov.2011

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.
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