new side-project: Swedish

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, 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 🙂


6 Responses to new side-project: Swedish

  1. How much time have you spent on your German before deciding on trying Swedish? I have been learning French for a few years but I still dont feel confident and I want to take up Spanish, while still focusing on French. Keep us posted so I know what may lie ahead.


  2. Keith says:

    I hope you don’t get side-tracked by your new side-project.

    So, is your method for Swedish going to be primarily L-R?

  3. doviende says:

    @Linda: so far I’ve spent ~400 hours listening to German and watching German TV (including all ~180 episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space 9 in German, which was 7 seasons worth). I’ve also read about 900000 words of German in books, which is about 9 regular novels. And I don’t know how many more hours I’ve spent on reviewing cards in Anki, but probably quite a few. Over the past 4 months I’ve usually been spending several hours per day, if I can.

    It’s just a matter of time, really. If you keep exposing yourself to french, then you’ll get there.

    @Keith, ya, I’m still continuing my work on German. I’ve still got a bunch more books to read, and more new TV to watch, so it’ll be pretty easy to continue it. For Swedish, ya I’ll be doing mostly L-R. There are some sites available with some video on them, but I haven’t looked around too much. So far it seems that the swedes watch a lot of TV in English, so I’m not sure how much Swedish TV I’ll be able to find. There are plenty of books and audiobooks, though. I ordered some stuff from and there were hundreds of audiobooks on there.

    I’ve been challenged by the folks at HTLAL to try to learn more than one language this year, so I’ll give that my best shot. Since I still plan to be in Germany for 7 months later in 2010, there will be plenty of time to continue working on German.

  4. Jess says:

    I’m also thinking of starting a new language and I might use a similar approach to yours.Can I ask why you picked Swedish? I’ve also been interested in Swedish, but I don’t really know why! Good luck! Keep us posted!

  5. doviende says:

    Firstly, I wanted to go into the Scandinavian family of languages, and I’d heard that if you can speak one of them, then you can usually understand the others. As I researched it, I found out that Norwegian has a variety of different dialects, so that made it sound a bit harder, and Swedish has many more speakers than Danish. There seem to be lots and lots of books available in Swedish too. I also know someone who speaks Swedish, so I should be able to ask her for tips once in a while.

    In addition to all that, Swedish has this interesting aspect of tones for individual words, which is also something I wanted to investigate. The language tends to have a very unique sound to it, which I like.

  6. Filip says:

    nice! Im a swedish guy and I’ve been following your blog a bit lately. I learnt german as my first foreign language (after english of course, but english is not really considered a foreign language in sweden…), and it is quite easy since they are related, except concerning grammar. a massive listening part is, as you plan, highly recommended, since pronounciation is undoubtedly the hardest part for non-natives. Lycka till! (good luck!)

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