As part of my challenge for the coming year, I’m adding Swedish to my plate. I’m quite eager to try out another Germanic language now that I can understand so much German.
My strategy at the start will be to do a lot of listening to native materials right away. I’ve got several audiobooks as mp3s for this. I’ve done some brief reading about the major features of the language on wikipedia, such as the types of vowel sounds that exist, and some interesting things like the tones that some of the words have (which is vaguely similar to chinese).
I’ve ordered a book online, and once it arrives then I’ll be reading it at the same time as I listen to the audio version. Before the book arrives, I’m hoping to do around 30 hours of pure listening to native materials to train my ear a bit.
What I’ve found so far, even after only about 5 hours of raw listening, is that I’m starting to grow accustomed to the sounds and I’m starting to relate some of the Swedish words to some of their German or English cognates. For example, I immediately noticed that “uppmärksamhet” is clearly related to “aufmerksamkeit” in German (meaning “attention” in English). I’m hoping that by starting with many hours of pure listening in my spare time (like with headphones at work), then I can both absorb the phonology and start to connect the cognates and gain some ability for free. I’m also looking up some very basic words from beginner pages, such as the Swedish page from ielanguages.com, which will supplement my basic knowledge of words that are very frequent.
With that sort of background, I’ll be more able to start with an L-R (“listening-reading”) strategy later in the month, and at that point I can start focusing on specific new words that I want to learn from the text. I think this’ll be an interesting exercise, as I’ll be able to test the ideas I have about starting a language completely from scratch. I’ve never listened to anything in Swedish before, so anything I learn about it now will be completely due to my own methods.
One other thing that I might do is find a list of common words to work through, which I could perhaps add to Anki in order to gain some more familiarity with those. I could also find some sort of exercise book that would introduce me to certain parts of the language (like maybe one of the “Teach Yourself” series). I like to use a variety of sources, with primary focus on the words and phrases that are the most common.
I’ll post some more updates as things progress 🙂