Sunday, December 19, 2010

Speaking Swedish with the Swedes?

Bork Bork Bork!

As of this post, I have been in Sweden for an astonishing 3.5 years. Wow what a run it has been.

Originally when learning I would come here, i immediately started working on studying Swedish. My first aid was a software program called Rosetta Stone. Which was excellent to start out on and from there I had moved to textbooks.

In the last year or so I have noticed one thing. Although my understanding of the language is getting better every day, one thing that is not is my ability to speak Swedish.

To put it succinctly, the only reason for this is that it's impossible to speak Swedish with the Swedes.

Although I can communicate what i want to say in Swedish and i have been complimented on my pronunciation of the words in the language many times over, one thing that I have when speaking Swedish is a Canadian accent. On top of that, due to the fact that i don't practice Swedish, my grammar is not getting any better. This is a catch 22 because when I do try to speak Swedish, a native speaker can immediately understand that I am not fluent and will do what they believe is a favor by switching to English for me.

Make even the slightest mistake in a sentence, for example, saying en bröd instead of ett bröd (the word for bread is Bröd and this is a ett word, something you just have to memorize for every word). And the next words that will come out of the mouth of whomever your speaking with will be in English.

Think of how frustrating that is: You are trying to practice and learn the language and instead of supporting you and giving you a polite correction, they just immediately switch to English thinking they are doing you a favor.

I for one always try to help Swedes out when speaking in English to help them when they make small mistakes but i don't switch to Swedish when they do.

I have been told that if one just continues in Swedish no matter what the person across from you does, then eventually they will revert back to Swedish, something that I will definitely try in future communication encounters.

I still find it amazing however that after only 3 years (of which i dont even really count the first year) I am now entering meetings at work where they do not change to nnglish when I walk through the door and with this help, my ability to understand what people are talking about has gone up exponentially.

It's all about baby steps, give me another 5 years and I will be a native speaker =).

The Swedish word of the day is Öva which means to Practice.


  1. The Swedish language depends a lot on gender of a word. It controls what form an adjective should be in and what plural/article ending to can easily learn swedish.there are many oppourtunities to learn swedish.

  2. Two simple ways to improve your Swedish - first: practice, practice, practice (du måste "Öva"). You might think of moonligthing as a bartender or other service job where speaking Swedish is part of the job.

    Second, find a Swedish girl (or boy) friend. I hung with a group of foreign drinking buddies who had a simple rule: stay single during Summer but hook-up with a Swede from September through May. Aside from other obvious benefits, your Swedish will improve rapidly.