I need to learn Swedish
May 29, 2012 7:32 AM   Subscribe

I need to learn Swedish, and I'm not the greatest language student. Who can point me towards the best online resources and courses?
posted by ewan to Education (8 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Rosetta Stone
posted by Flood at 7:34 AM on May 29, 2012

Call you local library and find out if they subscribe to Mango. It's fantastic.
posted by General Tonic at 8:45 AM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Do you have a chance to practice with a native speaker, or even better, live here for a while? Not necessary if you only want to learn to read and write though.
posted by monocultured at 9:13 AM on May 29, 2012

You want Safir. It was developed to teach immigrants. It is orphaned now, so if this link dies, you can always google safir svenska; there are a number of mirrors.

There are instructions there on how to do the course, and it starts with the alphabet, numbers, etc and soon moves on to simple conversations. An hour a day at this and you will see really good progress. You have to, have to, have to read out loud as much as possible, the Swedes judge your language skills by your accent, so start doing it right now.
Memail me or whatever if you get stuck or if there's anything you would like to know.
posted by Iteki at 10:00 AM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also, the following things are the keys to the language:

Long and short vowels, like in fast and mat. They work the opposite way to English. That is, two consonants after the vowel is short in Swedish, and one is long.

Soft and hard vowels; e, i, y, ä och ö are soft, while a, o, u och å are hard. They change the sound before them in some cases, such as the letters K and G. So for example, Göteborg (yutta-bory) but gotmusik (goat-moo-seek).

Finally, on vowels, don't think of ÅÖÄ as being "a's with rings" or "with dots". They are specific, unique vowel sounds, and you will save yourself a lot of effort by starting off on the right foot.

In terms of melody, the Swedes don't sound like the hurdy-gurdy stereotype, but that probably comes from the fact that de-emphasizing every second syllable in longer words will help you sound a little better. English speakers often try to pronounce the whole word at once, or with an even melody, you can ease up on that once you are more aware of how you sound.

Sj, Sk, Hj, etc. Swedish has a couple of messed up sounds, don't worry about trying to pronounce them! They will try and make you say "skinka" or "sjukhus" the right way, but you can absolutely pronounce them as sh, and you can pronounce hj as just plain old j. This is advice for quite a bit in the future though ;)

Btw, you mean you want to learn from abroad right? You aren't in Sweden?
posted by Iteki at 10:34 AM on May 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

It's dated, but here's the Foreign Service Institute's complete basic Swedish course online. Text and recordings.

For what it's worth, every native English speaker I've known who has learned a Scandinavian* language has said it was dead easy.

* excluding Finnish
posted by Perodicticus potto at 11:38 AM on May 29, 2012

The foreign service stuff can perhaps be used for grammar, sentence structure and base vocabulary, but should absolutely not be used for pronunciation or conversation, the accent is similar to a 1940's newsreader, and the phraseology, level of formality is dated to the point of being offensive to some (formal plural you is considered by many to be classist etc).
posted by Iteki at 1:28 PM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

On reflection, "offensive" might be overstating things, but honestly, goddag and adjö, two of the first phrases they offer are what my 93 year old grandmother-in-law says when she is making jokes about how old she is.
posted by Iteki at 1:37 PM on May 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

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