As promised this post is all about learning the Swedish language,
When I arrived the Karolinska Institutet provided a 3-day intensive Swedish language course for all new master students free of charge. It consisted of Swedish classes the week before classes began and continued once a week from 6-9pm for 4 weeks. We were split into groups and assigned to different teachers. This was a great introduction and I was very lucky to get a great teacher who had a lot of passion and energy. However, now this course has ended, I have already enrolled in SFI (Swedish for immigrants) a free language course with a good friend from my class.
In order to enroll you need a personal number. This is attained from the tax office. However you need to be staying/studying in Stockholm for more than 1 year to be eligible. I have already started my classes which I attend every Tuesday and Thursday. In addition to swedish classes I have in the Karolinska on Wednesday nights, a very fun student initiative with swedish students as our teachers. The very first time I went to SFI it was was quite the experience, every new student arrives 1 hour before class begins. Every new student is tested on their level of swedish, this is achieved by having a chat på svenska in front of everyone Thankfully I was placed in the intermediate class along with my friend. This is exactly my level of Swedish I feel. What I liked about this class was that it is taught primarily through Swedish and very little english is spoken. While it was tiring having to concentrate so much so that I understood it was very reassuring and satisfying that I found myself.. actually understanding.
I will now give some small tips which have worked for me and which may work for you in your home country or when you arrive here. I have found very kind friends (native swedes) who are willing to converse with me if I ask, who also correct me and answer any questions I may have. However be careful.. previously I was speaking with a swedish friend and asked her ‘du är sjuk?’ which I intended to mean ‘you are sick/feeling unwell?’ I had mispronounced ‘sjuk’ and said ‘tjock’ which meant I had just said ‘you are fat’, never a more awkward moment or a better way to learn It is ingrained in mind now and I will never make that mistake again… thus you learn from your mistakes! (förlåt Malin!)
I also have a beautiful notebook which a very close friend gave to me, I write every new word or phrase in there and carry it with me at all times, this way I can look over each new word while on the metro or walking to and from classes if I am alone.
Another way is to speak swedish whenever you can, I always speak swedish when in a shop or ordering a coffee or food. It is important to try, before i came here I was told and had read that swedes will immediately switch to english when they sense you are not a native swede. In my experience this has happened only once. I think they see I am at least making the effort and so respond in kind.
However one of the most helpful is finding friends who also want to learn, in my class I have 2 good friends who I always speak swedish with. Every morning myself and classmate read the ‘metro’ a newspaper here in Sweden which you can find at every metro, we pick five words we don’t know and use them in conversation. It is a very good way to use new vocabulary and really learn through using the word or phrase in context.
Additionally, we send each other weekly emails in swedish, for example he will correct my email of any grammatical/spelling mistakes and send it back to me, and vice versa. In this way he learns and so do I. A great idea which was not my own (tack Paul!)
In regards to learning from abroad, watching swedish tv on my computer has also really helped, sites such as SVT or swefilm are great. Klartext is another great site for listening to swedish radio in easier swedish with clearer pronunciation and much less ‘slang’. A movie in your native language but subtitled in Swedish is another good way to learn.
Well that is all I can think of right now. I will leave with one word which you should always follow, perhaps not just in learning Swedish but also in life,
Thank you for reading,