An essential element to any international re-location and cultural experience is to learn the native language. As already acknowledged (see blog entry #2), Swedes speak English very well. However, I've found that my personal sense of becoming a part of this new country is directly tied to how well I am understanding the language. I don't need Swedish in order to get my job done or to meet people, but I do need Swedish in order to feel like I'm not just a foreign imposter, but actually connecting with my temporary home and respecting my Swedish colleagues, friends and acquaintances.
The first picture above is of the participants in my Swedish class this semester. We meet twice per week for 2-and-a-half hours and have become a small community as we all adjust to life in Linköping. Studying a new language with others from around the world (Czech Republic, Germany, Japan, China, Iceland, Brazil and Bangladesh) is a fascinating part of this new experience.
So how's it going? Slowly, but surely, I guess. Here's some lessons I've learned from my studies of a new language:
- You'd better be ready to make mistakes and laugh at yourself (while being laughed at!).
- Reading and writing is WAY easier than listening and actually speaking.
- Patience is an essential element to language acquisition.
- Pronouncing vowels properly makes all the difference.
- Just being immersed in a new culture does not automatically mean you will learn the language (language osmosis would be really nice to have).
- Counter-intuitively, it's actually harder to learn a language when everyone knows your first language....all-important practice is much harder to come by.
Keep checking back to Linköpinglivin to witness my gradual grasping of "svenska."
The second picture above is of Riddarholmskyrkan and Gamla Stan in Stockholm and the last picture is a special one for the native Swedish readers: My summertime experience at "Allsång på Skansen," a uniquely Swedish "sommar" experience.
Finally, a blog entry on learning Swedish would not be complete without a small example:
Till alla i Linköping (och/eller Sverige),
Tack så mycket för dina hjälp med min svenska. Jag gillar att bo i Sverige och i Linköping. Det är spännande för mig att tala på svenska mer och mer varje vecka, men bara därför att dina hjälp. Tänkar svenska är vacker och, med mer tid och tålamod, jag hoppas att tala det bra. Det här vecka hos min svenskakurs, vi ska lära rätt ordning av orden. Inte skrattar, tack!
Det här min favoriten orden på svenska. Jag hoppas att tala vid 2007:
"Sju sjösjuka sjömän träffar sju sjungande, sköna, nyduschade sjuksköterskor och bjuder dem generöst på choklad."
Vi ses snart på Linköpinglivin.