I’ve been learning Swedish in April. Here’s what I’ve been doing it:
Reading Harry Potter in Swedish.
I got the Swedish and the English book as well as the Swedish audiobook of Harry Potter and I’m reading it in Swedish while looking at an English translation to understand the parts that I’ve missed in Swedish (which is currently still a lot).
I find that once I have finished reading a paragraph and read the English translation, I generally have little problem following through in Swedish. This is, I guess, an advantage of English being so close to Swedish.
You can try it out for yourself if you’re interested. Here’s an example Swedish paragraph that looks hard but then, after having read the English translation, becomes easier:
Jag försöker inte visa mig modig eller nånting sånt genom att säga namnet”, sade Harry, “jag visste bara inte att man inte borde göra det. Fattar du vad jag menar? Jag har massor att lära mig … och jag slår vad om”, tillade han och gav för första gången uttryck åt någonting som hade oroat honom på sista tiden, “jag slår vad om att jag är sämst i klassen.
And in English:
“I’m not trying to be brave or anything, saying the name,” said Harry, “I just never knew you shouldn’t. See what I mean? I’ve got loads to learn… I bet,” he added, voicing for the first time something that had been worrying him a lot lately, “I bet I’m the worst in the class.”
Another thing I found is that my limited German knowledge is coming in very handy while learning Swedish. Just in the last paragraph, words like försöker (versuchen – try), att säga (sagen – say), visste (wissen – know), menar (meinen – mean) and so on immediately crop up to mind.
After all of this reading and listening at the same time, I also relisten to the audio files without text later on. While doing this, I find that sometimes I can pretty much follow the meaning while at other times some paragraphs just look to obscure to understand even though I had sort of translated them beforehand.
I think this might also have to do with the kind of translation I’m doing while reading: I do not focus on every single word and I just try to get the gist of the story. I do this because there often appear words that I am just very unlikely to need in the near future. Words like “armchair”, “clay bricks” and so on. While these are words I will ideally want to know, these are not words I really need to know now when I still don’t know many basic words like “outside”, “pen”, “table”, etc. I don’t avoid learning these more complex words but I just don’t focus on them.
At this point, I think I will gradually be able to absolve more and more Swedish and understand more and more of what’s being said. I might need to up the ante a little bit and increase the speed with which I’m doing my reading but otherwise I should be all good (I attempt to finish reading Harry Potter before I go to Sweden, this means that I will have to double my 5 minutes per day worth of audiobook reading speed). What will soon be lacking, however, is practice.
I would love to have a Michel Thomas sort of a course at this point but since there aren’t any (and Pimsleur is expensive and a bit too far-fetched), I’ll be looking into other options. What exactly? I’m not quite sure yet but I guess we will soon seen.
Posted under: Fluent in 6 Months