Sunday, November 12, 2006

Min Svenskakurs (My Swedish Course)




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.

17 comments:

Hans Persson said...

Jag förstår problemet du har med att lära dig svenska trots att du är i Sverige, eftersom du talar engelska. Inte nog med att alla kan engelska, rätt många tycker att det är trevligt att få en möjlighet att träna sin engelska och pratar det gärna (undertecknad är inget undantag). Du skulle antagligen klara dig bättre genom att låtsas inte kunna något annat språk än svenska. Du får väl säga att du kommer från ett spansktalande område i USA och inte gärna talar engelska. Väldigt få svenskar talar spanska, så då får du träna svenska. ;-)

Jag håller med om att det är trevligt att kunna något av språket när man är i ett främmande land. Det gäller även tvärt om; när man lär sig ett främmande språk vill man gärna veta mer om landet som språket kommer ifrån. Jag lär mig japanska just nu och läser gärna på saker om Japans kultur och historia för att förstå mer om bakgrunden till språket jag försöker lära mig. Jag har inte problemet att lära mig några nya ljud att prata med, men däremot ett helt nytt skrivspråk att komma underfund med.... Men det är kul!

Caroline said...

You've learned a lot of Swedish in a short period of time, impressive. :D

A small hint though: "my Swedish course" = "min svenskakurs". Apart from that, there's only minor errors. :)

Carl said...

Read about you in Corren the other day and I'm now following your blog. It's interesting to read an americans thoughts about Sweden. And I agree with Caroline that you seem to be doing well in your swedish class! I've heard swedish is a tricky language to learn.

How about the european anti-american attitude? Do you think it exists? Do you meet people who, for example, want you to defend american foreign policy and/or the war in Iraq?

Mom said...

Dear Sean - here's a surprise for you--tills 10 months sedan du hade ingen ide som du skade ar, i Sverige och faktiskt att tala som var svenska vid November!!! Forbluffa!!!Lyckonskan! fran en stolt mom. Inte kan vantan att besoka i April!!! Den skar ar sa god att se dig i fatalveckor pa jul.
Alska dig mycket,
Momen
(Such amazing resources on Internet)

sarah said...

seems like the female to male ratio in your swedish class would give you an upper hand in finding a girlfriend....you are alwasy put in these situations that should give you an advantage, but somehow it never pans out. Glad to see some things never change....

Todd said...

I'm not sure which is more impressive...your Swedish or Mom's ability to find a Swedish translator online....both significant milestones in our family.

I, too, have been learning a new language in New York over the past two years...although I can't exactly repeat what I've learned from the language professors (a.k.a taxi drivers).

Keep up the good work, bro.

David said...

You're not the only native English speaker having trouble with our language. Try this link out: http://www.slayradio.org/mastering_swedish.php

Anonymous said...

Hi there! Read about you in Corren and can't wait for the next blog from you. It's very exciting to read about my hometown, language and culture from a foreigner's point of view. Never thought of fika in the way you described, but isn't it wonderful =) And I must say, you learn Swedish really good!

Bye! from Linda

Jas said...

Whity, Loving the blog and your immersion into this culture! Hope to catch up soon! BTW, way to go Di!

Anonymous said...

hej! jag är lindas syster, som skrev till dig längre ner på sidan =) det var jättekul att läsa om ditt intryck av min hemstad linköping. if u understood hans perssons contribution, i have to say i agree with him. i for one love to speak english, and i therefor once found myself speaking english with an exchange student from the uk, who insisted on speaking swedish! =D i hope u can forgive me, but i just had to laugh at u/with u when i read your small example... although, i must nevertheless compliment u on your progress, keep it up. jag ser fram emot att läsa fortsättningen på ditt liv o synpunkter på livet i linköping! ha det gött! kram / camilla

Anonymous said...

Har du lärt dig vad "sär skrivning" är ännu? Det är en sak i det svenska språket som tyvärr även allt för många svenskar ofta gör fel på. :)

Här är två övningar:

1. Varför är den här översättningen felaktig och rolig?
"A brown haired nurse" = "En brun hårig sjuk sköterska".

2. Vad betyder "plåttermos"?
Ledtrådar: potatismos = mashed potatoes
äppelmos = apple sauce (mashed apples?)
rotmos = mashed turnips

Anonymous said...

Sean,

I'm proud of you for learning so much in such a short time. Translation- I'll be expecting that phone call from you in the middle of the night where you scream something in Swedish and then hang up on me. haha! :)
Best,
D
P.S. I REALLY hope your Swedish is better than your Spanish... haha. :)

Hans Persson said...

Those clues are suspiciously like red herrings...

Anonymous said...

Sean,

I will not attempt to 'talk' in Swedish and am very impressed at your progress! I do have something to share about you though. I have a pair of ears and eyes reporting back and he tells me you are a celebrity this week, being listed in the local paper! Small world of my neighbor's brother, Lars (I know, everyone's name is Lars), is a professor there at the university. Love being able to read about your experiences and having Michael and Sara read them as well. Michael is loving basketball btw.

Much love to you,
Jamie and family

Skhor said...

Wow, Sean -

You seem to have found quite the following online...imagine what you could do if you had a more personal medium? By the way, I've found that often the best way to pick up a language (if you have some basics, which you seem to have) is to watch TV, particularly kids shows, in that language.

-Skhor

Anonymous said...

Hej,
A friend of mine sent me your blog link from the Corren article. It was really fun for me to read some of your entries as I am a Southern Californian living in Linkoping right now too. I just moved here in August to live with my boyfriend and I have had many of the same observations about Swedish culture as you.

Anela said...

hello
wow i admire you for coming to a foreign country on your own and learning the language.it's not as easy when you have to live that life instead of just taking a course at home. I moved to Sweden from Bosnia in 1994 and it was tricky getting started with Swedish but it gets easier.
for me it was a great help to watch tv...maybe some swedish show with swedish subtitles so that you can both hear and read :)

but you seem to be doing great.

good luck!

:)
Anela