Before moving to Sweden, I didn’t spend much time thinking about learning Swedish. In my mind, Sweden was the most international country I’ve ever heard of, everyone was telling me that all Swedes speak English anyways. In addition, my study programme was supposed to be in English, so why thinking about learning Swedish?
First things first: it is true that in Sweden nearly everyone knows English, the master’s programmes at KTH are completely conducted in English and you can survive very well without knowing a word of Swedish.
However, already on my arrival day, I realized that I was missing something. I was not even able to thank a person in their own language, and I have to say, I felt quite naive to not have looked into this earlier. I picked up some words quickly, so that I was at least able to say “Hej” (Hi), “Hejdå” (Bye) and “Tack så mycket” (Thank you very much). I also signed up for the Introduction to Swedish Language and Culture course at KTH that teached me some basics in Swedish and explained the culture of the country. For quite some time, this was enough for me, as I was studying in such an international environment, that I barely recognized that I don’t speak the language of the country I’m living in.
Studying Swedish at SFI
Last summer, after living in Sweden for one year, I decided that I want to learn more Swedish. As the Swedish A1 course at KTH gives you 7.5 credits and therefore has the corresponding workload, I felt that this might be too much for me to take on, while already having other courses with 30 credits in total. Therefore, I informed myself what other possibilities I have, and I signed up at SFI (“Swedish for Immigrants”), where I took part in a beginner course twice per week for about half a year. The courses at SFI are free of charge and you can choose how often and during what time of the day you would like to participate.
Are German and Swedish similar languages?
You have to know that German and Swedish are quite similar languages. From the moment I came to Sweden, everyone told me “Oh, you gonna be fluent in Swedish in no time – German and Swedish are practically similar languages”. I guess at this point, I need to blow up the dream bubble that started building itself in every head of the German readers now. Yes, German and Swedish are quite similar, you might notice that quickly when for example reading advertisements in the subway. But no, unfortunately, it is still a completely different language and you will also need to learn everything from the very basics. It might be easier and faster than for people having other language backgrounds, but it stays a new language.
Why do I tell you all of this? Well, it’s because I heard this so often, that I actually hoped to know Swedish after some weeks already. And this is not how it works. Especially speaking a new language can be very difficult, and you need to find someone who is willing to practice with you. And this is the challenge here in Sweden: as everyone knows English, the Swedes want to help you and automatically start speaking English with you, when they notice, you’re missing words, you don’t understand, or similar. This is where it’s important to be consequent and keep on trying to only speak Swedish. KTH offers a database for tandem partners, where you can try to find someone that wants to help you with learning Swedish (or other languages).
Swedish A2 at KTH
You wonder how it went on with my SFI course? As all my courses are finished now and I’m only going to write my thesis in the spring semester, I decided after 6 months to quit SFI and apply for the Swedish A2 course (LS1512) at KTH. Overall, I think everyone needs to know where and how they can learn best. For me, SFI fit perfectly for the time I had to deal with many other courses at KTH. Now that I have a bit more time, I am happy to study Swedish at KTH in a more university-like environment. The course started last week, and I’ll keep you updated on how my Swedish is improving! If you want to learn more about language courses at KTH you can click here.
Vi ses! Or “See you!”