It wasn’t easy, but what a ride studying the Swedish language.
On stage one, I focused on the grammar going to normal classes back in Barcelona. I used Rivstart books. I bought the Rivstart A1+A2 and also the Rivstart B1+B2. I followed those with teachers and we all thought they were fantastic books. They were directly going into the topic instead of teaching you useless things in lists like the colors. If we think about it, we won’t be mentioning many colors in a normal conversation. So I could say this is an immersion book for the Swedish language. After the A1+A2, I started to have some conversations on Italki or Verbling which made a huge difference.
Tools CONSTANTLY used
After the first part of learning Swedish (basic grammar) I constantly used the following tools. Ever since I’ve been giving them more or less attention. Some days spending hours and hours and some days at least reading a little bit.
- Conversation practice: Italki (free $10). A mandatory site for me. I’ve spent quite a bit of money on this and I wouldn’t mind spend twice the amount. Why? Because we all know that to learn a language we have to try to speak it from day 1. Or as much as possible. That’s when Verbling or Italki comes into play. Is basically videocalls with a language teacher of your choice. The price depends on each professor but I paid around 16€/hour in average. Not bad at all. In Barcelona I paid 35€/hour so… I’m not going to write about my teacher because I want her for me 😛
- Book: I bought a Kindle and installed a dictionary (here is the Swedish dictionary for Kindle). I actually read 4 hours daily with the audiobooks of the books I’ve been reading. The first one I bought was Hundraåringen som klev ut genom fönstret och försvann. Any book could have been good, but I was interested in this one. I saw the movie and I really liked it. The problem was that the book was too difficult. Fortunately I found a lättläst (easy reading) version. After a while I found the first Harry Potter in Swedish with the audiobook. Whenever I didn’t find a e-book online, I just went to Dito and they had it all. It can be very adictive (and expensive when you buy 10 in a row).
- Flashcards: Anki. Using it to create cards with images to memorize every day vocabulary from Harry Potter or the other books. Important to notice is that I don’t make flashcards for every word I encounter. Just for the ones that keep repeting themselves and I’m sure I’m going to be using. Because creating them takes time.
Tools OCCASIONALLY used
- YouTubers: Clara Henry, Zoe Roberts, Linn Ahlborg, IJustWantToBeCool, Matgeek, Therese Lindgren… For the light tone and for all kinds of topics they talk about.
- Radio: Sveriges Radio and also Podcast in Swedish. Very important for finding a topic I was interested in (and voice I could cope with) and stick with it.
- TV show: Solsidan. They can be seen online with Swedish subtitles since not so long ago, which is perfect for students of the language (and deafs). I believe TV4play is a better resource that SVTplay because the subtitles are more accurate. That’s why I recorded Solsidan seasons from there and put them on my computer. That way I can use them without internet connection.
- Conversation partner: HelloTalk. Very good for finding people on the same area who are studying the language I had as native (Spanish or Catalan). In case I found myself with more time I made some appointments in person and speak 30 minutes Spanish and 30 minutes in Swedish. When I was back in Spain though, I didn’t find anybody willing to speak Swedish with me. Something that didn’t happen with Russian.
- Newspaper: 8sidor. These articles are in easier Swedish. The good thing is that they record it also. I’m not very interested in news so I was just checking the site once in a while.
- App: Duolingo. Everybody knows this app nowadays. I tried for two weeks without stop and it was nice, but I found myself getting bored really fast. Then I put my goal at only 10XP a day, and I did way more! Below I do a bit of review after completing the tree.
Why I began studying Swedish
Since I was 18 years old I used to work in a sport warehouse. I was there for 6 years and the first one I didn’t have any car. My father dropped me at work before he went to his. I was waiting around half an hour before my shift started at 6 or 8am, so let’s say I had a nice time to meditate. In the room there was a magazine with articles about Scandinavia. The pictures of nature, the law “allemannsretten“, northern lights and how society works made me fall in love with the north.
After a while I saw that the official school of languages in Barcelona had Swedish. The price were way more decent than some private lessons, so I decided to go for it. I met some cool people like Laerke (half danish, half catalan and studying swedish). It took 2 years to complete A1 and A2, which is not efficient at all because you skip the summer, holidays and I the classes were only two times a week. It was more than enough to know that I was hooked.
Also, I’m not going to lie, north girls are very attractive 😀
My Swedish journey
I started to study Swedish back in Barcelona. I did A1 and A2 and it helped me a lot with the grammar basics and so on. Something I’m not sure I would have reached if I had to study it for myself. We will see how the other languages go.
I lived in Västerås for 4 months at the end of 2015. I learnt some words but honestly I didn’t learn much. Everybody was talking to me in English. People from the north know a lot and it was also my fault, because I didn’t want to look stupid. Big mistake.
After a year I moved again to Sweden. This time I found a nice room in Uppsala. I decided to make it my goal to take Swedish more seriously because the money was good and I didn’t need to work much. I could make time my best friend or worst enemy.
Duolingo Swedish tree
Summarizing I have to say that Duolingo is an amazing learning tool that doesn’t feel like studying, even though you are learning. As for the Swedish itself, such an amazing job. Everything is perfectly correct when I doubt it, and check with Swedish natives. The sound is on point, the idioms and the funny sentences 🙂
Every time that a new word appears that I think it’s useful to learn, I make a flashcard with Anki for it’s Spaced Repetition tool. So when its time to refresh the golden treen, I’m already one step ahead.
As a little tip, I found myself doing more work putting a XP goal of 10XP than 50XP. Why? Cannot really tell, but I bet that since 10XP is so little, I was like, “oh come on Pau, it’s just one exercise!”. And when I did it, I was already a bit on the flow. Some days I ended up doing 100-200XP points. It’s inspiring to see how many days in a row you have been doing, so that also helps on the 10XP situation:)
Another little tip, would be that is way faster (and equally effective) to do it from the phone instead of Desktop. Basically because it already gives you the words, and at first I was doing on my computer but it gets more tiring than from the phone, which you can do anywhere as long as you have data or wifi.
Improvements I’d would do is a bit of an update on the vocabulary used. The sentence miming and how many times the things are repeated I find it on point, but there are some vocabulary that I would change. For example the word “letter”. I cannot remember the last time I used in English (well, now :P). Every time that new vocabulary appear, I ask myself the question “What was the last time I needed to use this word in English?”. If I cannot remember, I don’t bother to study, since I’m a big fan of the 20/80 principle. I think that way is far more effective and efficient (sorry, I can’t never tell the difference :D)
Once I finished it I decided not to keep working on it, since it got easily bored, so I focused more on reading in Swedish, which is the following point.
One of the inflection points while learning English, was the fact of translating stuff or working on words and lines while typing to online friends. So I did the same while learning Swedish. For example, when I was memorizing a few words with flashcards, I had the following list:
Change of the money, Employeer, Intention, noise, Ilegal, Slip, Heredar, Exit, Narrow, Relationship, Slightly more, Tense nervös, A cloud, Line, Space, Happens, occur, Generally.
What I did afterwards, was making a made up text connecting all of that. The result was obviously something that had several mistakes:
Det kan vara lite löjligt om du ger inte mig växeln… Varför? Jaaaa… För att alla anställda som jobbar här måste göra det. Jag vet att det var inte din avsikt men skit till det. Vad säger du? Jag kunde inte höra vad du sa med den här oväsen du har gjord just nu. Det kan vara olaglig att få inte växeln, visste du det? Även om jag har ärvt många pengar det spelar ingen roll. Ser upp för att du skulle inte halkar när du gå till nästa uppfart. Ah, jag hotar dig. Vad ska du göra om det? Jag vet att din hjärna är lite trånga, men vem bryr sig? Du låter som mina gamla ex. Kan du bara tyst? Pratar inte om min förhållande som om du visste henne. Var som helst mannen. Jag känner dig drygt mer spänd som vanlig. Kanske du behöver att titta den där molnen. Titta va fin det är. Okej, okej. Jag förstås. Jag ska gå tillbaka till köer och ge dig lite mer utrymmet. Kanske det är inte en så dumma idéer, eller var tror du? Skit inträffas oss… Du har varit en så jäkla snäll människa. Allmänt.
The following step would be to ask a friend to correct it, or make notes. Keeping in mind that they knew that the text was weird as fuck and didn’t make much sense.
I would get a text document with something like that, that would make a great review. After that the worlds that I learned would stick much easier if I used them in context. Even thought if the text is weird as hell 😀
Reading to learn Swedish
Above I’ve already commented what I’ve used to read this effectively. Kindle with Swedish dictionary installed. Pausing to the words worth learning to create a fast Anki flashcard to keep reviewing with time.
So far I’ve read the following (big) books in Swedish:
- x2 Harry Potter och de vises sten (Harry Potter, #1) – Rowling, J.K. (with audiobook at the same time)
- Män utan kvinnor – Murakami, Haruki
- Harry Potter och hemligheternas kammare (Harry Potter, #2) – Rowling, J.K. (with audiobook at the same time)
- Harry Potter och fången från Azkaban (Harry Potter, #3) – Rowling, J.K. (with audiobook at the same time)
Still teaching myself Swedish
Due my desire to learn more languages, Swedish is still part of my day, but I give it less time. The time that I give it is to listen or watch some videos at night, and of course keep reading non stop with the tools and tricks I mentioned, although at a normal pace.
At the current stage of my Swedish, what I have to focus on is on creating patterns subconsciously and consciously, but specially in extending my vocabulary.