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Swedish (svenska) is a North Germanic language spoken by more than 10 million people in Sweden and Finland, but its influence has grown well beyond the country’s Scandinavian borders. Swedish is studied as a second language by over 40,000 language learners around the world. The Swedish language is not only the official language of Sweden but is also widely-spoken in Finland where it is also an official language alongside Finnish.
Linguists say learning the Swedish language can open the door to understanding other Scandinavian languages like Danish and Norwegian. Swedish is the most widely-spoken of the Scandinavian languages, and Swedish culture enjoys notoriety around the world from the aesthetically clean designs of IKEA and H&M fashion to music superstars such as ABBA and Roxette. Sweden is also an increasingly popular travel destination, especially for people looking to study abroad, and the language is in high demand. What’s not to love about a country where free education and healthcare are coupled with high salaries and a public right to outdoor access that opens the door to Sweden’s gorgeous alpine lakes and fairytale forests?
Rosetta Stone understands that learning a language is about more than knowing the words and the rules that mandate how they are put together. It’s about stepping into another country and its culture through the connection of language. With over twenty-five years of experience building successful language learning programs, Rosetta Stone helps you start your language learning journey by focusing on an immersive learning environment that prepares Swedish language learners to thrive in conversations that don’t follow a script.
Learning the Swedish Language for Beginners
Swedish is often referred to as the most accessible Scandinavian language for English speakers, and there’s certainly truth to that moniker. Swedish grammar and sentence structure are similar to English, with the added benefit of having fewer irregularities. While the Swedish language does have significant differences in pronunciation, thanks to their Germanic roots, Swedish and English share thousands of cognates that have similar sounds and meanings. Here are just a few Swedish cognates English speakers will find comfortingly familiar.
Watch out, however, for false cognates in Swedish which sound and are spelled similarly but do not have the same meaning. Words like delikat may seem to indicate something is fragile, but in Swedish it communicates delectable or delicious. Like other languages, Swedish does have some challenging aspects, including long compound words, perplexing strings of vowels, and gendered nouns. Once you have a familiarity with the Swedish language that gets beyond English to Swedish translations, you’ll discover some of the more challenging aspects of Swedish grammar and pronunciation become second nature with daily practice.
Rosetta Stone offers bite-sized Swedish lessons that introduce you to common Swedish language words and conversational phrases gradually in an immersive environment rich with audio and visual cues. This method, referred to as Dynamic Immersion®, allows learners to build upon what’s been covered in previous lessons to introduce new concepts and vocabulary. This emphasizes deeper learning rather than rote memorization and helps learners make more meaningful connections to the Swedish language.
Learn Swedish Pronunciation?
Swedish is often described as a melodic language, probably due to the language’s pitch accent. There are two pitch patterns in Swedish that are used to differentiate between words that would otherwise be identical. Stressed syllables in Swedish carry one of two tones, and it’s this pronunciation pattern that gives Swedish its characteristic sound.
Swedish uses the Latin alphabet, but it has nine vowels that include some additional letters like å, ä, and ö. This rather extensive inventory of vowels makes for as many as 17 vowel phonemes, which can be a challenge for beginners looking to master Swedish pronunciation. Language learners need to develop an ear for the cadence of Swedish and get comfortable making mistakes and seeking out feedback.
Rosetta Stone believes practicing pronunciation is a vital component of every language lesson. When you take Swedish lessons with Rosetta Stone, you’ll get feedback on your pitch in real time with a patented speech recognition engine called TruAccent®. As part of your daily language learning practice, you’ll say Swedish words while the engine compares your accent to that of thousands of native speakers. This gives language learners the opportunity to adjust pitch and feel confident understanding and being understood in Swedish.
Learn how to say "Excuse me, where could I find the best Swedish meatballs? (Ursäkta mig, var kan jag hitta de bästa svenska köttbullarna?)" from a native Swedish speaker.
Getting Beyond English to Swedish Translations
As a beginning learner, it’s tempting to merely translate words into Swedish, but learning a language is about more than vocabulary acquisition. Once you’ve gotten comfortable with the sounds of the Swedish language, you should begin to learn the common phrases that are building blocks of conversations. Here are a few words and phrases you’ll often hear in Swedish.
Ursäkta (Excuse me)
Hur mår du? (How are you?)
God Morgon (Good Morning)
Hej Då (Goodbye)
1. Focus on cognates first
Because of the thousands of cognates, English speakers have a jumpstart on Swedish. The Swedish language can sound familiar to non-native speakers and provides a chunk of vocabulary to build on. In addition to cognates, Rosetta Stone makes your bite-sized Swedish lessons more effective by introducing Swedish words and common phrases in the context of everyday situations. Whether it’s a taxi ride or paying for groceries, you’ll be learning the Swedish words you need in an immersive environment that mimics real-world conversations.
2. Make mistakes
This sounds counter-intuitive, but making mistakes is part of the natural process of learning. Get comfortable with speaking Swedish out loud even if it means you might make a few gaffes. Rosetta Stone lets language learners rehearse this through live tutoring sessions with a native Swedish speaker. These unscripted conversations build confidence without the risk and provide another avenue for feedback as you progress on your language learning journey.
3. Speak Swedish daily
Sounding like a local doesn’t happen by accident. It’s a product of daily practice speaking the language out loud and honing your pronunciation. Rosetta Stone designs Swedish lessons with this in mind, making sure they sync across devices so you’ll have access to language learning that never leaves your side. Whether it’s by listening to Stories or using the award-winning Rosetta Stone app, Rosetta Stone makes it easy for language learners to get the practice they need to feel confident speaking up for themselves.
Immerse Yourself in the Swedish Language
Learning a language creates connections to the people that language represents. By exploring Swedish culture, you’ll immerse yourself in Swedish customs and potentially pick up nuances and quirks of the language you might otherwise have missed.
Even if you can’t travel to the Scandinavian wonderland of Sweden anytime soon, here are a few ways you can immerse yourself in all things Swedish without leaving home.
Listen to Swedish music
It would be a shame to mention Swedish music without giving an aside to several of the most famous Swedish pop bands like ABBA, Roxette, or Ace of Base. However, there are also plenty of other fun ways to listen to Swedish music online like YouTube and get exposure to Swedish traditions and new vocabulary.
Join Swedish clubs or Scandinavian societies
If you’re a language learner near a college campus, chances are there is a Nordic or Scandinavian society you can participate in. There are well-established Swedish societies in several cities like London, New York, Oakland, Calgary, and Houston.
Watch Swedish TV and Movies
SVT Play is Sweden’s national broadcaster, and they offer a free app with some select shows in Swedish. Even if you don’t have a sizeable Swedish vocabulary yet, playing a few programs or shows with the subtitles off will help you develop an ear for the language and notice pitch patterns. Sweden produces a few high-quality crime dramas that are definitely worth seeking out, including The Bridge, Wallander, and Arne Dahl
Experience Swedish food
If there’s one thing IKEA has brought to the world, it’s a love for Swedish meatballs (svenska kottbullar), cinnamon rolls (kanelbullar), and all things lingonberry. However, Swedish food embraces much more than what you’ll find tucked into jars on one or two grocery shelves in your local market. Find a few authentic Swedish recipes and get cooking to really get a taste for the language.
Benefits of Learning Swedish
Becoming bilingual is a choice language learners make for many reasons. Whether professional or personal, the motivation to learn Swedish may be different for each person, but the result is the same. Learning a new language can give you a deep sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, and it enables you to connect with the world in new ways.
Here are a few other reasons why learning the Swedish language can be an asset.
Swedish is the key to Scandinavian languages
Swedish is not only one of the most approachable Scandinavian languages for English speakers, but it also often serves as a bridge towards learning other languages within the same family like Finnish and Norwegian.
Learning the Swedish language is fun
Whether you use the language in your travels or to connect with Swedish culture in your community, learning a language can open the door to fulfilling experiences. While a large portion of the Swedish population does speak English, you’ll earn respect and create deeper connections with the Swedish people by making the effort to speak their language.
Speaking Swedish is good for your career
Sweden is the most spoken language in Scandinavia, and it’s an advantage to speak it if you are going to do business in the region. Not many non-Swedes speak the language, so it’s a rarity that will give you a leg up among the competition.
Experience Swedish culture
Sweden has made significant contributions to many areas of art, architecture, literature, science, fashion, and film. From novels by Stieg Larsson to the baroque architecture of Stockholm, once you start speaking the language, you’ll find evidence of Swedish influence everywhere. After all, it’s no coincidence that Alfred Nobel, the inventor who established the Nobel Prize for the greatest achievements in art and science, was Swedish.
Try Our Award-Winning App
Surround yourself with Swedish whenever, wherever with the Rosetta Stone app.
Download a unit and knock it out on the train or a flight. Select a 5-10 minute lesson and sneak it in while you wait in line or for your ride to show up. And explore dynamic features, like Seek and Speak, where you can point at an object in the real world and get a translation.
The best part? You don’t have to choose between app or desktop. Both come with your subscription and sync, so you can switch between devices seamlessly.