Tips to learn Swedish

Tips to learn Swedish

8 Feb, 2018

Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned which have helped me learn Swedish the past 2-2.5 years. I’m not yet fluent and I’ve still got a lot to learn. But I’m hoping that some of these tips will prove to be useful to someone else as well.

Make it a habit

I use an app called Streaks to make sure I get in my daily goal of studying Swedish at least ten minutes each day. I often do more, but I set ten minutes as a minimum. So even if I’m really busy that day, I know that I can always commit to at least ten minutes of study

Practice Swedish as much as possible - don’t be afraid to make mistakes

If you’re already in Sweden, then do your best to order food in Swedish or buy things in Sweden and use some phrases like “Hur mycket kostar det” (how much does that cost?), when they ask you if you want a receipt “Vill du ha ditt kvitto?” say: “Det behövs inte” if you don’t want it or “ja gärna” if you do. You will learn a lot more by making mistakes and trying and failing many times than waiting until you feel confident enough to speak Swedish with strangers.

It improves a lot faster after a certain point

From my experience, my Swedish improved a lot faster after a year of study, than it did in the first year. That’s because I got the base level and was able to figure out words more easily because there were less missing words in Swedish text. I could also get the gist of what was happening on TV shows and podcasts because I could understand a bit of what was said, and be able to use the context to figure out the missing words. Once I was able to say I was alright in Swedish, it improved fast because being alright in Swedish meant I could watch TV, hold (very basic) conversations, listen to podcasts and read the news. All of this furthered my Swedish language skills.

Watch Swedish TV with the subtitles

You can watch SVTplay and TV4Play with subtitles - so if they speak too fast, you can read what is being said to increase your chance of understanding what is being said. I did this a lot when I first moved to Sweden, I try to do it less now. I still remember when I heard Swedish in real life in my first year in Sweden and I wished there was subtitles because I couldn’t understand them.

A few general rules I’ve learned

Keep in mind that I’ve never formally studied Swedish grammar - I’ve just exposed myself to Swedish a lot by reading, speaking and apps like Duolingo and Rosetta Stone. But here are one of the general rules of thumb I’ve used that has helped me with my Swedish. Swedish verbs are not conjugated based on the subject (like it is for a lot of other languages). Instead you would have the same verb used regardless of the subject, the only thing that changes the verb is the tense. i.e. past, future, present etc.

For example: I eat, you eat, he/she eats, they eat; Jag äter, du äter, han/hon äter, de äter. I ate, you ate, he/she ate, they ate: Jag åt, du åt, han/hon åt, de åt

Learning Swedish
Written by Nicola Owen