Tag archives for Language

Stress Less, Speak More: 15 Tips for Learning a Foreign Language (Part 2)

This post is a continuation of Saturday’s post, where you can read Tips 1-7 for learning a language!

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.

Every now and then, you’ve got to take a break and maybe even have a delicious fika to recharge your brain. Photo: Kate Wiseman

9.   Take breaks when you need them. Read more » >>

Stress Less, Speak More: 15 Tips to Help You Learn a Foreign Language (Part 1)

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…

Swedish has kind of a funny reputation as a language. Because it’s a tonal language, a lot of people say that it sounds like singing. That wasn’t the first thing that came to my mind—the first time I heard Simon talking on the phone, I thought it sounded like he was gargling a mouthful of marbles, Eliza Doolittle-style. Later on in our relationship, and after my time in Vienna, I thought Swedish sounded like German after a tranquilizer or two.

For their part, Swedish people don’t do much to encourage native English speakers to learn Swedish, either. For one thing, they speak English way too well and are way too nice in accommodating us foreigners. (Yeah, Swedes. Stop speaking English so well!) For another thing, they keep insisting that Swedish is an incredibly hard language to learn, and after a while, you start believing them.

Well, forget that. The truth of the matter is, no matter how easy it is to live in Sweden or anywhere else in the world as an English speaker, learning the language will benefit you socially, professionally, and—most importantly—bureaucratically. (If there’s one thing all expats are familiar with, it’s filling out forms… for visas, for doctors, for work, for everything.)

There’s another reason to learn the language that no one talks about: once you get over the hump of the hard work and constant embarrassment, it is so incredibly empowering to be able to express yourself and take care of yourself. It takes some time, though.

If you started yoga class or kickboxing or doing pottery or designing websites, you would expect a learning period in which you just aren’t any good. If you stick with it, though, and practice, you start getting better and better.

It’s the same with language, but people aren’t patient with themselves in the same way. I want to be fluent NOW! I hear you. Below are the first 7 of my top 15 tips to help you learn foreign language, designed not to trick you into believing in shortcuts, but rather to help you focus your energy where you’ll see the most results. Read more » >>

True or False: Sweden is the most Americanized country in the world?

I have to admit, before I came in contact with the Swedish population studying at the same university as me in Perugia, Italy, I didn’t have that many thoughts about Sweden. When I went home to the United States five months later with the news that I was officially “in a relationship” with a Swede, my grandmother was unfazed.

“Oh, that’s wonderful. And you know, Sweden’s not that different from the United States anyway. It’s just like the 51st state, you know. Everyone says that.” Read more » >>

25 More Swedish Words (and Phrases) That Make Me Giggle

My last post on Swedish words that make me giggle was such a hit that I thought I’d share some more. Thanks already to all the readers who shared some of their favorite Swedish words as well as to those who offered feedback and criticism of my interpretations. If you haven’t read my last post, check it out here, and make sure to read the comments as well! Lots of people chimed in with further suggestions.

My Swedish… *sigh*. It’s a work in progress.

Without further ado, 25 more Swedish words and phrases that give me the LOLZ. Read more » >>

14 Swedish words that give me the giggles

Tell a Swede you’re learning Swedish, and within 30 seconds you’ll be sucked into a deep, nuanced explanation of what “lagom” means. It’s practically a rule of nature. If you’re familiar with the story of Goldilocks and The Three Bears, you’ll understand lagom. It’s when things are not too big, not too small, not too hot, not too cold, not too much, not too little… when things are just right.

Once you get a little deeper into Swedish, however, you’ll start finding a treasure trove of hilariously strange words and unexpected combinations. Jump on a bus, and you’ll find yourself on a journey to—horrors!—some unexplained slutstation… or last stop. Driving a car? Make sure you know the difference between an infart and an utfart, and breathe a sigh of relief when you finally get through yet another stretch of highway construction: fullfart ahead!

Read more » >>