I am no specialist in studying language and my English demonstrates that. I have studied English from the 6th grade in the elementary school to the 4th grade in the university, but I still get confused by the grammar, usage and pronunciation. I feel pretty bad that I cannot handle English that I have studied many years and that “everyone” can today (well, ofc not everyone. The other day, a middle-aged postman checked my passport and asked me which month was “December”…).
Compared to my lengthy and ineffective English learning, Swedish gave me much richer experience. I lived in Sweden for 3 and a half year as a student and nobody forced me to study the language. That worked well for me. I took the beginner’s course at the university and listened to what people were talking to each other on the bus. I tried saying some phrases I learnt at the school at the stores and some friends gradually started letting me express myself in Swedish even I spoke strangely. Most of my friends speak good English and even Japanese so it was difficult to improve my Swedish in the beginning. My roommates and boyfriend were the few people who communicated in 90% Swedish with me and I am very thankful for their tolerance!
It might sound overstatement but Swedish / learning a new language by living has made my life better. By trying to understand more and express myself better with the language, the merrier my life felt. Here are the 10 steps which I think improved my Swedish. They are very simple and probably adaptable for learning other languages too.
- Study simply. Use only one textbook and finish it. Buy one English-Swedish + Swedish- English dictionary and mark the words you find interesting and useful.
- Go to a language class at the university and then SFI and SAS. There you will learn the basics and more than anything, gain friends from all over the world who have similar experience and motivation for learning the language with you.
- Pay attention to how and what people are talking on a bus. People speak louder than in the Japanese public transport so why not listen to them:p
- Say the Swedish phrase you know. No hesitation but “tack! :)” (ex. at the cashier)
- Live with Swedish people. Choose a shared kitchen/ apartment than a single room!
- Watch news every morning with subtitles and without subtitles.
- Read everything you see. Think what they are telling to you. Metro or pressbyrån napkin.
- Make a boyfriend or a girlfriend or someone very close. Classic but best:D
- Keep a diary. So your family cannot understand what you have written;)
- Do a part-time job at a restaurant. High tempo and stressful, but my brain got trained there a lot.