Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Swedish Lessons

As some of you know, I'm married to a Swede. Like, an actual Swede, direct from the country of Sweden.

One of the things that bugs me, though, is that, after almost twelve years of marriage, I don't speak any Swedish. I mean, other than parts of the body and a few curse words. That's just laziness on my part, I feel, and so I've been trying to learn. Well, I've been trying to learn for years, but it's only in the past three months or so that I've made any progress. I can now sometimes communicate in rudimentary, halting Swedish with my husband (which I often have to repeat several times, because my accent is atrocious) and through text message (much easier, since I can check the dictionary first!) I can even make (small, weak) jokes in Swedish. 

What's different this time? Well, I think it's because I've diversified my approach, by using a variety of apps and other resources, which I'm about to list for you. I generally try to do three of these per day. 

(Please note, I have an iPhone, so availability might be limited on other platforms)
• Babbel: Babbel has a number of language apps, three which are specifically geared toward Swedish. One is a vocab builder, one is a language/phrase course, and one is a Swedish/English dictionary. The vocab app is a little buggy, but all three apps are really great. I especially love the dictionary--it has all the curse words, too!
•Memrise: Just discovered this one a few weeks ago. Each small course only includes about three or four phrases, but they will be hammered into your head by the end. Good use of mnemonics, too, and a great review program. My only complaint is that the Swedish courses are very limited, and I'm already getting close to the end!

Podcasts are great, especially if you're like me and have really crappy verbal recognition. I personally like Swedish Survival Phrases and SwedishPod101. Swedish Survival Phrases is my favorite; SwedishPod101 has a lot of fluff and is constantly bugging me to buy their shit.

Social Media: One plentiful resource I didn't expect is social media, especially Tumblr and Pinterest, though Twitter's pretty okay, too. Search tags on the language of your choice and I guarantee you'll come up with a lot of surprising gems.  

Books/Newspapers: A quick Google search will easily yield you several online news sources in the language of your choice. Try translating just the first paragraph or two of each day's top headline. 
It's also remarkably easy to find children's books in other languages uploaded in .pdf form to free international libraries. Just make sure they aren't pirated sources. Also, steer clear of books in verse, especially if you're a beginner—as in English, the author may have used less commonly used words, or changed the typical word order, to make the story rhyme. 
Another way to use books is to find the translation of your very favorite, well-read book. I actually managed to score Harry Potter 1-6 in Swedish on eBay a few years back. My first crack at it went pretty well, but that kind of heavy translation is time-consuming and headache-inducing, so I've set it aside, and will return to it when I build my vocab a little further. 

Well, those are my tips for language learning. Lycka till!

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