Friday, May 2, 2014

Swedish as a Second Language - Preparing for the move to Sweden

Today we will talk about SaS (No you liverpool fans, i m not talking about Suarez and Sturridge). Swedish as a second language.

Quick links to my previous coverages:
Moving to Sweden - Swedish Weather Extravaganza
Moving to Sweden - Things to Bring
Moving to Sweden - Housing and Financing

Now let's delve into wikipedia for the basics.

Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 8.7 million people worldwide, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, where it has equal legal standing with Finnish. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish. Along with the other North Germanic languages, Swedish is a descendant of Old Norse, the common language of the Germanic peoples living in Scandinavia during the Viking Era. It is currently the largest of the North Germanic languages by numbers of speakers.

Great. So by learning swedish you can pretty much communicate with Finnish, Norwegian and Danish people. It is stydied by around 40000 people abroad @ university level, making it the most studied Scandinavian languaged practiced abroad.

It belongs to the branch of North Germanic language, so if you are familiar with german or even english you shouldn't have a hard time learning swedish. Though the consonants and pronunciation of some vocals will be challenging at first. But i already know russian, and that is a hard language. If you pick up languages fast like me, you should have no problem being fluent in swedish during your studies.

Swedes always want to practice their english but seem to lose patience very fast if you are inadept at speaking their language, so try to make a mutual exchange.

A friend of mine that lives in central Sweden told me:

"I can only give you one advice if you plan on staying here. Learn the language. Oh, and change your last name to Svensson!"

And i do plan to stay here. If you can ge a head start where you live and you are serious about it, do it. Check some private teachers or a local university that might offer a course in Scandinavian languages. You will also feel special if you speak a unique language spoken by 10 million people. If there is none, you can take things in your own hands and do it yourself. A friend told me Rosetta Stone's Swedish Guide is a good option. Thanks Andrea.

For the people that want to learn while living there, all these options exist. There are also swedish lessons for immigrants. If you are a student in any university, there is a high intensity class during the summer just before the semester starts (Starts 4 August and lasts 4 weeks). You receive an email prompting you to register (the deadline for Uppsala University is 15 May) and you can enroll on that class along with other students.

As i stated, swedish people are fluent in english. In fact, you will hardly find a Swede that does not speak english under the age of 45, in some cases under 60. And they want to practice all the time, just for general practice, or even show off. So if you speak broken swedish like a peasant they will stirr the conversation in english. Do not care. Continue in swedish. If you can get another foreign student that speaks or tries to learn, by all means talk with him a lot. Or offer another language you know. I can offer Russian, Greek, English, French.

In a future post i will talk about swedish culture and your need to adapt and accept it. It also involves learning swedish, you need to respect the fact that a foreign country is hosting you and nurturing you into a fledgling scientist or the next IKEA manager.

This is the punchline. Learn Swedish. Also.....

Keep calm and learn swedish.

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