Work & Business
How do you Say it in Swedish?July 26, 2016
Joakim Andersson had a passion for languages but felt like a lot of the available tools for learning were dated and incorrect. Instead of settling for mediocrity, he took it upon himself to create something modern, effective and free.
Say it in Swedish is a website with free Swedish lessons and videos. There are courses available for all levels of proficiency from beginner to advanced. If you aren’t fully ready to commit to learning Swedish but still want a little something, the site offers a “Swedish word of the day” and shares Swedish words and facts on its Twitter page.
We checked in with Andersson about Say it in Swedish… and even got him to teach us a few Swedish phrases.
How did Say it in Swedish come about?
When I moved to Germany I noticed that Sweden and Scandinavia were pretty hyped. People were going for vacation or even emigrating. The learning materials available, I thought, felt strange to me regarding how I would talk to people. Sometimes they were even wrong and full of spelling errors. Since I’ve got a huge interest in languages (my mother tongue too) and I am a minor polyglot I decided to make my own language course. I’m familiar with how traditional language courses are constructed so my idea was to make a better product that teaches how Swedes speak instead of going through the hassle to teach phrases people won’t use day to day in modern Sweden. I wanted to create something dynamic that could evolve and that can be improved over time. So I created www.sprichmalschwedisch.com, which began as a podcast and now is a full-fledged digital text and exercise book with easy-going audio lessons and a learning community where people can ask questions. What printed material could compare to that? The German site was expanded to www.sayitinswedish.com a few years later.
What’s the hardest thing about learning the Swedish language?
It really depends where you’re coming from, but for English speakers I would say the pronunciation. The vowels in particular, but I honestly think people start to work too hard on this instead of learning the language first. Another thing that might seem hard is the two genders of nouns, but if you consider that you would need to learn words anyway, why does learning genders need to be hard? I think people decide that it’s different and thus must be hard before they start. They build walls around easy topics in learning a language before they really start, and that’s what makes it hard for them.
What are your top tips for someone who is trying to learn Swedish?
Like I said in my previous answer. Don’t decide that something is hard before looking at it. It might be different to what you are used to, but does that make it difficult? Just learn to combine a noun with a gender right away. At least Swedish has only two! Swedish is very easy, the verbs aren’t conjugated differently depending on which person is performing them, like in English, and a lot of syntax works for English, too. Don’t think too much about pronunciation at first, and my pro tip for learning any language is to listen, listen, listen. Watch TV, movies, listen to the radio. This is how children learn, and eventually you will recognize words and phrases and understand their context. This is going to boost your cramming for sure.
Teach us a little Swedish!
Swedes are a humble people or rather, there is this mentality that no one is better than anyone else, so they will make sure to thank you for anything – be sure to do that, too! This is done with a simple “tack” and common phrases are:
Tack för senast – Thanks for last time
Tack för lånet – Thanks for the borrowing (This is said upon returning something you borrowed)
Tack för hjälpen – Thanks for the help
Tack för allt – Thanks for everything
And remember, if you have nothing to say, you could always talk about the weather. This is something Swedes do a lot and you will often hear the following phrases:
Vilket väder vi har, va? – What a weather we’re having, right?
Vad blir det för väder idag? – What kind of weather are we getting today?
Gud, vilket tråkigt väder det är ute – God, what dull weather it is outside