- To enter into a situation or begin a process or journey that is particularly strange, problematic, difficult, complex, or chaotic, especially one that becomes increasingly so as it develops or unfolds. (An allusion to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.)
My Swedish journey so far (07/2019):
Courses I've finished:
- Linguaphone Complete
- Pimsleur Level I (the only level available)
- Rivstart A1+A2
- Mango Languages
- Form i fokus A (grammar workbook for CEFR level A)
- probably others but I forget now
- the Memrise deck for the Duolingo course
- Radio Sweden på lätt svenska
- http://sverigesradio.se/ - loads of podcasts if that's your thing
- storytel.se (It's an audiobook streaming service with a lot of content. Technically, I don't think this should work outside of Sweden but I was able to subscribe for the two-week free trial and then pay for one month after that ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ That said, you can get some audiobooks fairly cheap on Bokus, if audiobooks are even your thing (they aren't mine))
- Bokus and Bokon for ordering books (Bokon just ebooks, Bokus for ebooks, audiobooks, physical books...)
- chorusing (Olle Kjellin)
- reading the news on dn.se, svt.se, etc.
- Alex & Sigge's podcast http://alexosigge.libsyn.com/
- ord.se - my fave SV-EN dictionary
- https://en.bab.la/dictionary/swedish-english/ - for all the words ord.se doesn’t have
- https://www.wordreference.com/sven/ - not quite as good as bab.la but it works better on mobile for whatever reason
- https://www.saob.se/ - for when you’re ready for a monolingual dictionary (really helps with understanding differences between synonyms)
- Google Translate - not that bad and tbh it’s the most convenient to use when lazy/on mobile/watching tv
- For Kindle - https://sourceforge.net/projects/sv-en-kindle/ - you can also buy this on Amazon if you prefer; it's not by any means thorough but it does cut down how much I need to use the other dictionaries and that makes for an overall better reading experience
My primary advice to anyone reading this and who happens to want to learn Swedish: there are better examples than me to follow My secondary advice is to not get bogged down on what courses to do, or how many. Just do 1-2 courses if you're going to do any. Do something everyday if you can, and get to native material as soon as you can tolerate it without it overwhelming you. Starting to read and listen for real is quite disheartening after "mastering" a few courses, it can feel like starting all over again, so you might as well get there asap rather than think you're going to prevent that struggle by doing yet another beginner course. Just go for it! My first book was Odinsbarn by Siri Pettersen, a YA book, it was tough going because I had to rely on a dictionary so much for all the words I didn't know (there were a lot!). But things got much easier after about 500 pages of reading, and then got easier again after another 2,000 or so pages, and it just gets easier gradually as long as you keep reading.
The most important thing is sticking with it. I have been wildly inconsistent at times but still made progress. You can take a day off here and there, you can do bare minimums if you're having a hard time as well. The information is not going to fall out of your head if you skip a week. But try not to do that too often. For one thing, eventually you will start forgetting what you've worked so hard to learn, for another, taking too much time off just makes it take all that much longer to get up to where you can do fun things like read easily and understand tv shows. So try to keep at it regularly. Think of it like building momentum: regular, daily contact with the language is going to help it stick in your brain better with less effort. Doing something daily or near-daily is telling your brain "this sh*t is important!!" and your brain is likelier to assimilate it that way.
Swedish is a fun language and if you're interested you should go for it. It doesn't have the same selection in entertainment media as the big languages like French or Spanish do, but there is quite a bit of entertainment if you figure out where to look and how to access it. Good luck!
Where to buy books in Swedish:
1. Bokus: Apparently they do not ship to the U.S. but I've never had problems getting stuff sent to Canada. Shipping is expensive but that goes for more than just getting stuff sent from Sweden. I've bought physical books, ebooks, and audiobooks (as digital downloads) from Bokus. It's so convenient to get everything I need from one place.
2. Bokon: Ok, so sometimes I get ebooks from Bokon and not Bokus. Why? Bokon will send the books directly to my Kindle. One can just use calibre software and convert the .epub to .mobi, and then load it to your Kindle yourself... but sometimes I just want to skip all the work.
Where to watch Swedish-language tv:
In North America (because that’s where I am): SVT, MHZ Choice, Netflix. Those are the ones I use. SVT has Swedish subtitles for their programs. MHZ Choice has English subtitles and you can’t turn them off, but they do have 30+ series so cover the subtitles or something. Netflix Canada seems to have fewer Swedish offerings than the U.S. version, but there are a few series on there. Not sure if I’d bother subscribing just for the Swedish content though.
This is not a 2019 log. This is a reset.
Bored with how stagnant my routine had become, I conjured up a ridiculous challenge with a couple friends for the month of December.
Duolingo. As many languages as we fancied. One lesson in each language per day for the month of December.
We picked a group language (German), and then each of us separately picked one language that the other two would learn. I gave them Romanian. One of them gave me Japanese, the other Korean. I have to admit, those two languages were never in my plans for learning Neither was Romanian, but to show my team spirit I'm learning it as well.
One rule was already mentioned: do one lesson everyday in each of the languages one is learning. Another rule is that we cannot drop the group language or the languages that were chosen for us for the duration of the month. Outside of those three languages, we can choose as many languages as we want for ourselves, and those extra languages can be dropped or added at any time throughout December.
My self-selected languages are French, Italian, Polish, Norwegian, Ukrainian, Czech, Spanish, and the aforementioned Romanian. That's 11 languages in total. Remember, though, the commitment is only to do one lesson per language per day. The purpose is to explore, have fun, and, for me at least, to re-energize my study routine overall. The lessons are short, and can be spread throughout the day. It's just for 31 days, and the bare minimum commitment is only three languages (for me: German, Japanese, Korean).
Apart from that madness, Swedish continues. I'm shaking this up by putting 20-minute boundaries on each activity (tv excluded). It makes just about everything eminently doable. Read the news, read Harry Potter, do a bit of course/grammar work, get Anki done. Treat myself to an episode of a tv show.
The last language activity I've got going on this December is Pimsleur level I Icelandic. Uh, yup, Icelandic is back, for now. If I do one Pimsleur lesson per day I will finish on the 31st. Would you believe a local library has a copy!? Maybe breaking from Colloquial Icelandic will rekindle the flame.
If there is anything I want to work on going forward, it is finding the middle ground. Stop living on the fringes, the extremes of attitudes. Stop oscillating between taking on too much and doing too little. And I want that middle ground to be my middle ground, as in: stop going in whichever direction the wind blows. There will be days/weeks/months where I feel invincible, and there will be days/weeks/months where the weight of the task is too much and I feel like quitting. There will be times where it seems like everybody else has better ideas than I do, more time than I do, more achievements, etc. None of that matters. Each day one can choose to be paralyzed in the face of it all, or to keep moving. A mile, a meter, an inch. Doesn’t matter. Just keep moving.
Well, that's it! Happy December! Happy learning!