Friday, January 18, 2008

The Difficulties of Learning Swedish

Spanish. I didn't retain much knowledge of Spanish from a class taken halfheartedly in high school. French. I never made it past the beginner level when studying French a few years ago. Swedish. Jag började att studera svenska i somras. Det är kul att lära sig svenska.

The reason my studying Swedish is progressing faster than my earlier attempts at becoming bilingual or multilingual is found with the fact that my time isn't consumed with verb conjugations. I'm learning separate conjugations for the past, present and future tenses, but don't need to memorize separate conjugations for "you, we, she, he" etc. That makes it easier to delve into basic Swedish conversation sooner than other languages.

Word order in Swedish throws me off a little. It takes time to retrain the mind to understand a different word order in sentences that begin with adverbial or dependant clauses and when asking most questions.

Pronunciation challenges me. There are some Swedish words with sounds that my mouth doesn't want me to make. There are also words in the Swedish language with completely different meanings that are spelled exactly the same. They are pronounced differently, making it easy to look real silly and attract quizzical looks when saying one word and meaning another. Take, for example, the words "fullständigt" and "full ständigt." One word, or term, means "completely." The other means "drunk always."

Reading Swedish eases me into comprehension of the language whereas I need to concentrate hard when trying to understand the spoken "språk." At Christmas, I tried to follow two separate conversations in Swedish going on simultaneously and I got very lost.

Now at the intermediate level, I hope to reach the elusive advanced level soon, and hope to carry on many Swedish conversations and reach fluency in the language in a few years. I'm trying to read Swedish online newspapers on a daily basis. I listen to Swedish radio online when I can. Total immersion in the language after moving to Stockholm will help a lot.

In the meantime, as they say in Swedish, jag hoppas att du mår bra!

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