Swedish: How to speed up learning the language?

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by Patrickb97, Dec 1, 2017.

  1. Patrickb97

    Patrickb97 New Member

    Hi guys!

    This is my first post on the forums! My name is Patrick and I am hoping to get some help from you who are also learning Swedish, and from native speakers as well. I have been studying Swedish for over a year as I am planning to move to Sweden at the end of next year. My native language is Polish but I am also fluent in English and I have studied in both languages as I was quite young when I moved to the UK.

    I have noticed that I am making very little progress in terms of being able to hold a conversation or understand spoken Swedish. I have tried so many different resources: to start with I used Duolingo, then I got some audio courses and grammar books, I try to watch Swedish TV programmes and I have visited Sweden several times to see if that would help. I love the language and I don't feel like it's forced, I actually enjoy learning it I was told by some other people that withing a few months they became able to hold conversations.

    So I have a several questions if any of you guys can help:
    • What do you think is the best method?
    • How to improve my listening skills?
    • Are there any native speakers on here who would be willing to help me practice? Or other learners who would like to try and practice with me?
    • Do you think it is necessary to attend classes?
    Thanks a lot for your answers!
  2. Segorian Senior Member

    Icelandic & Swedish
    The ‘best’ method depends on the goal pursued. However, if your goal is learning a language quickly and thoroughly (as opposed to, for example, just being able to more or less understand the text of a newspaper article), the most efficient method is immersion. This involves:
    • Devoting a significant proportion of your time to the studies; and
    • Using repetition as your main tool
    For most people, ‘a significant proportion of your time’ means several hours every day. Although you will see progress if you only study for 30 minutes per day, the speed of that progress will grow exponentially with every half-hour you add. If you want to reach a strong conversational level, the minimum is two hours a day.

    ‘Repetition’ means making sure that you are exposed to each new element several times within a short space of time, preferably a single day. To achieve this you could, for example, make a habit of reading every passage in every book 5 to 10 times or listening to a daily newscast an equal number of times, every day. This will allow you to gradually increase your understanding of lexical elements in context, rather than by constantly looking them up and trying to figure out how they fit in (although you will have to do that, too).

    I have found that this type of learning regime is an excellent way to improve listening skills. Attending classes is not necessary. It will help if you have a good teacher, but 90% of the outcome depends on your own effort.
  3. Patrickb97

    Patrickb97 New Member

    Thanks for your post Segorian.

    I believe you are right, and I just need to immerse myself in the language more. I have tried doing so already and I do aim for two hours a day at least but it becomes difficult as I work long hours.

    The repetition tip is definitely very useful, I never really considered reading every passage in a book several times to understand the words in context. And I think it would be much better to do it that way, especially since I hate translating things when I'm learning a new language.

    One more question for you @Segorian : Do you know any books which you could recommend? My level is somewhere between A2 and B1 (perhaps more B1) I would say, though I have never actually taken a proper test to confirm that.
  4. Määränpää

    Määränpää Senior Member

    I've been lucky enough to learn Swedish at school, so I never needed to look for teach-yourself books. :(

    Sometimes it's difficult to get used to the sound of a new language. If you want to learn expressions people use in conversations but can't hear what people on TV are saying, reading contemporary theatre scripts could be some kind of shortcut. It seems that at least some of Lars Norén's plays have been published as books and e-books. (Lots of Swedish movie DVDs have Swedish subtitles for the hearing impaired, but a book is easier to read at your own pace.):)
  5. Segorian Senior Member

    Icelandic & Swedish
    I'm afraid I don't have any specific books to recommend. You should choose reading material that seems interesting to you, always including newspapers or similar material to get a good feeling for the everyday language (printed interviews are often useful). Always keep a dictionary and a grammar reference book at hand, and try to develop a good balance between (A) looking up every word or point of grammar and (B) just charging ahead. The middle path is the way to go.
  6. 涼宮

    涼宮 Senior Member

    Sbaeneg/Castellano (Venezuela)
    Although for some this may be common sense, many people (I daresay MOST) don't use this wonderful method: Do you talk to yourself and think in Swedish?

    Becoming fluent in a language without setting foot in another country is a lot easier than it sounds, especially with the invention of the Internet. Force yourself to talk in your target language, from the moment you wake up til the moment you go to sleep. Everything you want to look up do so in Swedish. Although the information on the Internet is quite limited in most languages, you should be able to find enough information about most topics in Swedish, even if it's not thorough enough. Put every device and website you use in Swedish, PC, cellphone, YouTube, Twitter, etc. Once you find something interesting to read and finish reading it, talk to yourself about that topic, imagine you're explaining it to someone or teaching a class about that. This will ensure not only that you practice and use the words and grammar you just learned, but also that you understood what you read. Read carefully so that you imitate good grammar. Talk aloud. Talk a lot, a real lot. If you aren't a talkative person, become one. Talk about anything, even if it's something crazy, create all kinds of contexts in your mind and all kinds of sentences, for example, ''yesterday, when I was walking home from work, I was kidnapped by a Valkyrie, she took me to another dimension where I fought alongside Odin for 40 years. I didn't actually age! One time I was dining with a vampire king and he asked me about my favorite food, then I remembered I like pasta. Oh, when I was young my mom used to cook such tasty pasta'' < this must become the standard train of thoughts a self-taught language learner must have. By being able to let your imagination run wild, you will be able to use and learn all kinds of words and become proficient in a language without having to actually talk to someone. When you find words or structures you don't know how to say, write them down, continue talking even if it's in your native language, find their equivalent on the Internet, repeat the same idea so you memorize the new words and structures and voilà, watch how ridiculously fast you progress everyday. The best way to learn a language is by using it, it's as simple as that. I would also recommend that you keep a diary in Swedish. The point is to use the language for everything and anything.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2017
  7. duck1966

    duck1966 New Member

    Hej Patrick,

    Som du nog redan märkt pratar de flesta svenskar gärna engelska. Det fungerar ju ofta bra, men om du ska utbilda dig eller arbeta i Sverige kan det vara ett krav att du förstår och kan uttrycka dig väl på svenska. Att förstå och skriva ett språk är en sak, men att också tala det själv så andra förstår är ju ofta svårare. Att tvingas göra det i riktiga konversationer "live" dagligen är det som kommer att lära dig tala vårt språk. Det finns många trevliga polacker i Sverige och vi förstår dem även om de har kraftig brytning! :)

    Jag kan rekommendera Astrid Lindgren. Hon skrev spännande barn- och sagoböcker som älskas av många miljoner barn (i alla åldrar) även utanför Sverige. Många av böckerna finns som talböcker och filmer. Mina favoriter är Bröderna Lejonhjärta, Mio min Mio och Ronja rövardotter. Sen finns det såklart Pippi Långstrump, Emil i Lönneberga, mm, mm allt beroende på vad man gillar.

    Jag hoppas du kan läsa detta annars får du fråga mig eller be Google översätta :)
    Lycka till i Sverige!

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