You’ve started on your quest to learn Swedish. That’s great! In this article, we would like to give you some pointers on how you can learn Swedish fast(er) and more efficiently.
Some of these tips you might already be familiar with. Some might be new to you. Skim through the article, and read the points that interest you. Oh, and if you do like this article, please share it with others!
The 17 Best Tips to Learn Swedish Fast
#1 Split Your Learning Material Into Small Pieces (Pomodoro Technique)
What would be easier to memorize?
1000 words of a story
Ten short stories of 100 words each
As you’ve probably guessed, the correct answer is number two.
People learn the best by taking in little pieces of information, fed to you on a regular basis. Your mind then organizes internally into what we perceive to be logical, then establish what we have understood.
The Pomodoro technique helps you split your source material into small chunks, that you revisited every 45 minutes. This technique makes uses of the brain memory hack by way of interval recall. Flashcards/ spaced repetition software work on the same principle.
As you learn additional chunks of information, your mind will link, sort and correlate this information with what you previously learned.
#2 Mix Natural And Methodical Learning Methods
Not a complex task, if handled well. And despite what you might think you know, learning a language does not need to be expensive!
(Although it can be, if you have the means for it.)
The 1# fastest way to learn a language is, unquestionably, by going to the particular country that speaks that language and to fully immerse yourself.
But unfortunately, not everyone can just hop on a plane and travel to Sweden.
There are still many ways to develop your Swedish without taking a costly trip abroad.
Natural Language Learning
Children have the uncanny ability to learn languages, that almost seems like magic to adults.
The common notion in Second Language Acquisition circles currently is that:
“If we could only learn to immerse ourselves in the same extent that kids do (when confronted with the daunting task of learning a language), we will learn faster and more efficiently.”
Full immersion is the natural method of language learning. It is how you, I and all the people worldwide learn languages when they are young.
In contrast to natural learning, is the methodical learning approach, which is how we are taught in school. You usually get acquainted with the methodical approach early on in life, in classrooms with a teacher who gives you direct instruction.
Other examples are methodical self-study. Our Swedish frequency dictionaries help you with methodical self-study of Swedish. On Amazon, a whole range of language learning products are available, and most of them are methodically based.
You can learn naturally, or almost naturally, by purchasing a course that promises (to mimic) “immersion” (Rocket, Fluenz, Rosetta) or by speaking to native individuals. I’ve found that Michel Thomas does a great job at mimicking natural learning, but unfortunately they do not offer Swedish.
What method works best for you, is for you to decide. Each person will have a distinct learning style that he or she prefers. By mixing both kinds of learning, you can positively put yourself at an advantage.
#3 Carry A Dictionary or Word List
A learner’s dictionary or a phrasebook/dictionary combination can conveniently slip into your bag or backpack.
If you dislike having to haul around a physical book, you can get a digital copy of most books. I personally use my smartphone for vocabulary studies when I got a few minutes to spare.
If, sometime during your travels, you come across a word or a phrase you don’t know, take out your dictionary (online on your phone, or a physical one) and look up the word. Linking the place to the phrase or word will solidify it firmly in your mind. It seems like a lame thing to do, but it works wonders.
You can also apply this when going about your daily life. You can look at random things or places and subsequently look up how to say them in Swedish. Doing this connects the object or scene you are looking at with the word itself, and really gives vocabulary meaning. This technique is valuable in pushing your mind to combine the word with the object and considerably supports your journey towards Swedish fluency.
You can also carry a journal around to jot down freshly learned words, or you can write down new vocabulary on your phone. Google Sheets/Docs are a valid free option as they auto-sync across devices and backup automatically.
#4 Watch Swedish TV, Series, and Films – with Swedish subtitles.
Actively watching foreign films and series is one of the easiest ways to involve yourself in a culture, without actually traveling to that country. It might be difficult to find movies in Swedish, but there are plenty of websites where you can purchase these quite easily, such as Amazon. And a whole lot of other web resources where you can watch Swedish material online for free.
However, try not put your native language’s subtitles on, even if you are not able to understand anything at all. People tend to concentrate solely on the subtitles and thus will not achieve much from the experience. If you add subtitles in your own language, try not to look at them, but follow the story by listening to the audio. Use the subtitles only as crutches if you really don’t understand what is being said on screen.
You can, however, add Swedish language subtitles to your films or series. Whether you´re watching Swedish or your native langue films, Opensubtitles carries an extensive collection of Swedish subtitles.
You will be pleasantly bewildered at how quickly you will pick up Swedish words. If you know other people who are trying to learn the same language, watching series or films in a group setting can be a great way to learn as you will all be watching, listening and trying to deduce the language. It can make a sometimes tedious task a little more fun. Don´t do this if you can´t stand people talking through films though.
Watching Swedish TV and adding subtitles in your native language can be helpful for learners who already are advanced in their learning and would like to learn the precise idiomatic definitions of some sayings and proverbs.
Being able to notice the slight variances and nuances in language is one of the marvelous things about being able to speak fluently. It is also a sign that you are truly getting to know the language you´re learning.
It is also an exceptional tool for increasing your listening comprehension. Begin with a small part of the film. Listen carefully, and repeat the scene over and over again until you truly understand every word.
The next step is to mimic exactly how the Swedish words were spoken, and voila! You have created your own mini-language course on the cheap; you didn’t have to pay more than the price of a film for it!
#5 Read Newspapers and Blogs
There are various ways to acquire reading material in foreign languages, and many publishers will have their very own websites for you to buy from. Getting a subscription to a Swedish magazine or newspaper is a valid way to get some regular practice. If you prefer a physical book, libraries are also a great place to find material of this kind.
To read a newspaper in Swedish, you need to know around 5000 words to understand 95% of all the text. If you still find newspapers a little too ambitious, try a magazine. Especially the gossip magazines are easy to read.
If you find magazines to be a little too difficult, try a comic book. Comic books are an excellent start since they are naturally very conversational, and aimed at a younger audience. Still, once you feel you have conquered comic books, progress your way up to newspapers, and always keep your dictionary on hand.
#6 Write Letters (Sending Optional)
Even if you’re not writing to an actual person, writing letters in Swedish is still an excellent way to practice a more relaxed tone of voice.
You will need to discover new vocabulary, and you need to think about how to express yourself concisely in the language. As soon as you begin writing regularly about the everyday things that happen like as you would do in a diary, you will able to look back on the progress you’re making.
Your Swedish writing skills will certainly improve if you stick with it. And as a bonus, it will be great fun to look back at how much you have progressed, and how fast. If you keep a diary, it is nice to be able to recall your memories. People tend to forget more than they realize.
#7 Think, and therefore be: Swedish.
Yes. Try to think (as much as you can) in Swedish. That might sound like a somewhat challenging task, but bear with it.
This is of the utmost importance when trying to speak a foreign language: try to stop the habit to actively translate from your language the language that you are learning. Instead, automatically “think” in the other language. Your inner voice must change languages for your outer voice to become fluent. Remember the Dalai Lama: Change comes from within.
Changing your inner voice will make you more confident and comfortable when faced with the prospect to speak Swedish in stressful real-life situations. If you practice this regularly, it will gradually become second nature to you.
#8 Swedish Flashcards
These are very effective in studying another language. Or actually, in cramming everything. And just 1 minute or less of your spare time is enough for a quick exam; pick a card and memorize the word for a term. Return to it at regular intervals and see how long you can remember it.
There are many ways to prepare flashcards. Here are several popular options you might consider
Graphics (think visual dictionary style)
Example sentences & useful phrases
Swedish-english dictionary entries
Swedish vocabulary only
Only words in your native language (that you will then have to translate!)
You can buy premade flashcards, but the action of doing them yourself is also helpful for language learning.
Don’t tell yourself that you cannot make time for this. Flashcards sets are easy to make with an app, and require only a minimum amount of time invested for great potential results. Depending on your effort of course.
Revisiting your flashcards can be done anywhere. If you have a few spare minutes like waiting for the bus, in line at the grocery store, bank, the doctor’s office waiting room or anywhere else where you have a few minutes to spare, use this otherwise lost time to check your flashcards and get some quick vocab practice.
Even if you don’t have time for a real class or to spend 30+ minutes learning at home, you can most certainly do this. No excuses!
#9 Read, and then read some more.
Magazines and newspapers are created to be grammatically correct, (non-fiction) books and comics sometimes focus more on informal speech between characters, colloquialisms and practical knowledge about cultures.
Read everything, from magazines, newspapers, websites, road and shop signs, poetry to comic books, and you will soon observe that your reading comprehension and knowledge of generally useful vocabulary are hugely improving.
However, it considerably helps when you are interested in the content. It is much easier to focus on something that you enjoy than something you feel is boring.
Reading Swedish to English parallel text is a great start. It is the best way to quickly and naturally broaden your vocabulary. Remember only to look up the bilingual text if you really can’t figure it out what it means in Swedish.
Moreover, according to science, words learned through context are remembered faster. #Winning!
A high-grade audio course is a solid method to gain reliable fluency in conversations, in a short amount of time.
Pimsleur and my favorite, Michel Thomas are both exceptional audio methods. They `hack your brain` and teach you to speak languages by just listening to the audio. No “traditional” studying necessary. (although it can never hurt, of course, to learn more vocabulary!)
If you have a language course that does not contain an audio component, and you want to be able to have conversations in said language, then you should probably invest in one.
Aforementioned might sound a little authoritarian, but the overwhelming majority of people respond very well to the act of listening & learning a language. Hearing Swedish is a critical aspect of acquiring it if you do plan on actually speaking it.
An audio course is also one of the easiest ways to become acquainted with a language. It is a stress-free way of learning basic pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary on your own.
The two downsides of an audio course are that you will not learn any writing, and the amount of vocabulary usually is fairly limited, even when getting a “complete” course. I believe MT and Pimsleur are a bit over 1000 words each. The limited vocabulary from audio courses, however, is easily remedied by our Swedish frequency dictionaries; they go hand in hand with any audio method.
#11 (Online) Radio & podcasts
When following the tips mentioned in this article, give yourself some time to absorb the latest language you learned.
Listening to the radio will provide you with the opportunity to be exposed to new and old vocabulary, and new content on a regular basis. Especially with talk shows, and a bit less with music-oriented stations.
Vary the station from time to time. If you keep listening to sports, you will only learn about sports (well, maybe you solely want to know about sports. Fit it to your own needs!
By listening to Swedish radio, not only will you start to pick up the language a little easier, but you are also able to involve yourself in the Swedish culture through other means. Like discovering what music is trendy at the moment, or what topics are being discussed in Sweden in the news at the moment. Just having the radio on in the background can also be beneficial for you, by getting you used to the way the language sounds.
#12 Regular Swedish Practice
This is potentially the most important rule when studying new languages.
You must expose yourself to the language of your choice on a daily basis if you have time.
Learning for 10 minutes per day is better compared when you cram for 1 hour, once or twice a week. Frequently going over your learning material, even for just a few minutes at a time, is one of the most important things you can do for yourself.
#13 Make Penpals
There are many penpal services for foreign language learners that you can join these modern days, as well as the immense (social) networking tool called the internet for engaging with speakers of other languages. You can comfortably practice your writing skills and make sure that you are intelligible to a native Swedish speaker.
Your pen pals can assist you, and in return, you can help them to learn a little of your language, if they would desire so.
Various free websites and forums are accessible for you to discover other individuals that will be glad to help you.
#14 Study with Others Swedish Learners
Practice with your real life peers so you can get their constructive feedback and the benefits of interactivity. You won’t be able to get this type of personal interaction when reading books and newspapers solely, or when you listen just to audio methods.
The majority of people perceive that a slight element of competition, combined with the ability to interact face to face with another person in a language, can positively help your learning.
You can do this by going to local Swedish classes, or by using online face to face tools such as Skype. A good website for finding online tutors is italki.
Online meet-up sites, or even dating sites that offer friends only options, can also be an excellent way to meet other people studying Swedish that have similar interests and are keen on meeting up.
#15 Have Fun While Learning Swedish
Having fun while learning Swedish might seem like a little bit of a vague notion, but that’s because it does depend on your own idea of having fun.
Even if you have chosen to learn Swedish, forcing yourself to study for an hour or so a day, just repeating the same phrases over and over, probably won’t do anything beneficial for you to appreciate the language.
Putting the aspect of language learning aside for a moment, ask yourself what you find pleasant to do or experience.
Do you like music? Try listening to songs in Swedish.
Do you like being active? Try going for a run with an audio book or podcasts playing on your mp3 player.
Do you fancy puzzles? Look for websites with (free) language games for you to play.
Make sure that you are enjoying yourself while you are studying another language. Be sure that you are having fun while learning, and it will be easier for you to do so.
#16 Making Mistakes is Good!
Don’t fret if you can’t remember, or if you misspell, some of the words or phrases that you (think you have) previously learned.
Making mistakes is a positive part of language learning, although they may not feel that way. Slips and blunders are a necessary evil in order to advance your level of Swedish fluency.
Often learning from the corrections of a mistake you made, instead of learning the word, phrase or grammar the first time, will make that word or grammar stick a little better in your head. By making errors and analyzing the corrections, you will have spent more time, thought and positive reinforcement on whatever you previously got wrong.
Fluency in a language is the accumulation of errors and corrections, forming the building blocks that build your fluency in Swedish. Bit by bit, all will settle into place!
#17 Hurry up, slowly
Generally speaking, language learning is a marathon and not a sprint. Allow yourself enough time to study Swedish. Appoint a few (or more) hours that you will practice your Swedish during the week, and try to stick to those hours.
If you are in a strenuous schooling program or have joined the merry world of the workforce, or have any other obligations that make you rather limited in your time, do not worry. Even at just 10 minutes per day, fluency is within your grasp.
Don’t go weeks without studying and try making up for it with cramming for a few days. Try to do a little bit every day, so you’re making steady progress.
Give yourself the time to learn gradually and steadily, and this new language will be something positive you can retain for the rest of your life.