Swedish is not a language many people study just for the heck of it. Romance languages, German, Chinese or Japanese—not too out of the ordinary. But Swedish? Not so much.
Nonetheless, when in Rome…
For expats and all language learners, here are my top 15 tips for kick-starting your language learning, even when it’s rough going, even if you’re shy, even if you think you can’t.
8. Be brave!
Learning a language is not for the faint of heart. It’s important to be kind to yourself during this process by taking breaks when you need them, allowing yourself to be imperfect, whining about how difficult it is (we’ve all been there!).
As soon as you’ve gotten that out of your system, though, you have to be brave! You have to get out there, you have to talk to people, you have to let yourself be vulnerable. Above all, do not allow yourself to be shy.
Shyness is the language killer. Don’t kid yourself that doing an endless number of grammar exercises is going to result in your waking up one day and suddenly being fluent! You have to talk.
I’ve gotten pretty good with my Swedish, but there are still times when I suddenly feel shy or nervous for some reason. When that happens, I try to trick myself into being brave. For example, I’m the oldest of three girls, and I am very protective of my two little sisters. (Not that they’re little, really, but I will think of them that way for the rest of my life.)
If I tell myself before I go into a shop that I’m going to do something for them, I am automatically 5 times more courageous and more determined than I would be on my own. It’s not me that wants the coffee, it’s my sister! For some reason, creating a scenario like that pushes me out of my own shell and gives me that extra edge that I need.