Something Swedish

Listening to Swedish: “att lyssna till svenska”


Spending more time on studying Swedish, which feels great through a few fits of frustration. Which is expected but still makes me… “AGGHH” from time to time.

What other ways are there to study a new language without the exercises, repetition, memorization? Letting the language seep into your surroundings and subconscious through your everyday interactions. Yes, that is easier if you move to the country (as I have), and interacting, but there are other ways.

  • Radio. I usually have the radio on in the background when I am home and not studying, not for the music (Which is mostly English, songs I know and love), but to always hear Swedish throughout the day, listening to the pitch and tone, the speed and nuances. Of course actually understanding what they are saying is difficult because there is a lack of context.
  • Television/Movies. A great way to learn another language is to watch T.V in that language, with subtitles in that language or your native tongue.  Or do the reversed, watch T.V in English with the Swedish subtitles, and never stop reading, constantly figuring out each word from the context. This is also a great way to pick up on less formal language and all the  slang and curses. The same goes for movies. Unfortunately, this option is limited for me at the moment as we don’t have cable right now, but that is the number one reason we are getting it hooked up.
  • Music. One of my favorite ways to absorb my new language is through music. I love to listen to Swedish music, even without knowing the language there is more context in a song than you realize. However, I do prefer to have the lyrics in Swedish and English in front of me as I listen and follow along, on repeat. Eventually you are singing lyrics you don’t know the meaning of, which is a step in the right direction. For example, I often read along to this page when listening to one of the artists I’m familiar with.
  • Reading. If you are an avid reader and have a favorite book that you know inside and out, get the book in a different language. See what  you can translate and identify by comparison. It will be difficult, but you know the story, you are simply filling in the blanks.
  • Audio book.  I’ve never used an audio book, but I probably should. It is supposed to be a great way of learning and studying. An approach I’ve never taken, but I will try eventually.

Here are two videos of Swedish songs with both English and Swedish lyrics to follow along – Enjoy & tell me what you think!


7 thoughts on “Listening to Swedish: “att lyssna till svenska”

  1. Oooo I am so glad I found your blog!! I am an Australian and our long term goal is to expat in Sweden. We got close (spain) but still not there.

    Currently doing time (up to 4 years) in Bangkok but my whole family has our fingers crossed that we will be in Stockholm next…

    I can live our dream through your writing for now 🙂

  2. ooops just realised how bad that “doing time” comment sounded …. I meant we are currently expats in Bangkok – not criminals at all 😉

  3. For learning new languages, I often favour children’s books. They tend to use simple words and basic sentences with a lot of repetition. I find it is much easier to learn phrases than to try to remember vocab and grammar rules and then figure out how to put sentences together. Having a basic tourist’s phrase book can also be helpful with this. When I go abroad, I keep one in my purse just so I can quickly reference the ones I need and it does not take long for them to sink into my long term memory. Almost all of the Polish I have came from a phrase book.

    Also, since I’ve been trying to improve my German (my fiance’s family is German and his mother speaks almost no English), I often ask my fiance to answer my very simple questions in German. This way, I know what answer I am expecting and I can just hear these short phrases over and over to learn them better. I took three years of German at university, but it did not prepare me for participating in even basic conversation. So if I ask things like “What do you want for dinner?” or “What time are we leaving?” then he will answer in German. I try to ask the questions in German when I remember, too.

    • You are completely right, I meant to include children’s books but completely overlooked it at the last minute. When learning a new language you need that simplicity. Repetitive phrases is a good idea, its great that you have a habit of studying them with him.

  4. The trials of second language acquisition are universal! I’ve had the same pains in learning Spanish, and I suggest the same techniques to my students for learning English. Podcasts could be good, and I know there are some specifically for English-learners that have simpler vocab, etc, so there may be something similar in Swedish?

  5. I already could speak 3 (4 if you count Tsotsitaal) languages (Yay Africa) before moving here and Swedish wasn’t harder for me to learn than English.

    It did help that I developed a fondness for Timbuktu. And those private lessons that my employer was willing to shell out for.

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