If you are trying to learn Swedish, you may have already discovered that this is no small feat. There are free courses you can take (Swedish for immigrants or [email protected]), as well as a range of apps and websites (Duolingo, Memrise, Rosetta Stone), which will boost your reading, vocabulary, and grammar skills. But daring to incorporate speaking Swedish in your daily life still remains the hardest part. That is why I will offer some inspiration for you to break the language barrier and advance towards proficiency, while exploring Stockholm and engaging in fun activities.
Written by: Teodora Petrova
Just go for it. Next time you order fika, do it in Swedish! Start by saying the simple: “En kaffe och en kannelbulle, tack!”. Be prepared that you will be asked: “Är det bra så?” (“Is that all?”) and “Vill du ha kvittot?” (“Do you want to have the receipt?”). Just answer: “Ja, tack!”, say “Hej då”, and you are done! After performing this routine a few times, you will be more confident asking other simple questions in shops or on the street. Do not get discouraged if you get a response in English; we have all been there! You may yourself switch back to English, if you find it hard to keep up. Just try again the next time; the first steps are always the hardest.
Museums/exhibitions/fairs. Learn to combine the pleasant with the useful. Whenever you are in a museum, pick up the Swedish brochure instead of the English one. Alternatively, gain some cultural insight by visiting the unceasing events around the city. For example, Sthlm food and wine, the largest fair for food and beverages in the Nordics, will take place on November 10-13. If you are interested in photography, choose the parallel event Fotomässan instead.
Language cafes/Literature circles. Most libraries around Stockholm offer the opportunity to not only practice your conversation skills, but also read books suitable for learners and discuss them once a week. Just google “Språkcafé” and “Lättläst bokcircel” to find the one nearest to you.
Music. Stop skipping the Swedish songs on Spotify, and try to understand and memorize the lyrics. This will also help you to interact with the Swedes on the next night out; sing along instead of standing awkwardly because you do not know the song. Check out the latest tune from Laleh for example, “Aldrig Bli Som Förr”.
Movies. You will be pleasantly surprised by the Swedish movies, in regards to production value, plot, characters, and most importantly, humor. This season we recommend “Jag älskar dig – en skilsmässokomedi” (“I Love You – A Divorce Comedy”), which follows an estranged couple through a series of uncomfortable situations. You can also see “Flykten till framtiden” (“My Future Love”), the story of a 20-year old with an incurable heart condition who travels to the future and falls in love. Moreover, each movie has Swedish subtitles, in case you do not trust your listening skills.
Attend events/seminars at KI. For example, the Student Health Center regularly organizes lunch seminars in Swedish, both in Huddinge and Solna.
Sign up for a course. Maybe you will feel more comfortable practicing the language with people who share the same passion as you! Sports and dance classes, cooking workshops, etc. around the city are mostly offered in Swedish. However, they warmly welcome English speakers. Are you up for such a challenge? Check out the Stockholm Krav Maga Center in S:t Eriksplan (self-defense courses), Sthlm Raw in Hornstull (raw fika desserts course), or find your own at kurser.se.
Volunteer. Why not learn Swedish, while doing something good? You can find many opportunities on the Voluntärbyrån official website, including organizing fika for elderly people, charity fundraising, helping kids with their homework, or answering a hotline.