Its been almost 2 years since the move to Sweden. The first 9 months were spent in accommodation provided by a relative who was currently living abroad. The time there allowed for considered shopping for a suitable new home. After much time spend surfing hemnet.se – Swedens version of rightmove.co.uk – a house was found among the farmlands of Mellerud.
With a house sorted, and half a year spent making it into a home, I had finally run out of excuses to keep putting off learning the Swedish language more formally. As an English speaker it is very easy to be lazy about the subject of language when living in Sweden. Children are taught English in schools from a young age, and most Swedes under the age of 60 speak very good English. This can leave you with the impression that learning to speak Swedish isn’t an urgent necessity.
However, the (sadly fairly accurate) stereotype of “Brits Abroad” taking for granted that more and more nations speak enough English for us to get by is something I didn’t to continue to propagate.
So after getting over my conflicting fears of being an ignorant foreigner and conversely looking foolish, contact was made with the administrator of Melleruds “SFI”. After a brief face to face interview, a place was obtained in the “Intro” group for new beginners to the Swedish language.
I went into the first lesson with only the barest knowledge of some words and phrases – garnered from fun chats with my wife and her family – and what turns out to be a horrendous pronunciation of Swedish words and letters.
My first arrogant assumption was “It cant be that hard for me to learn, the alphabet is basically the same as English but with 3 apparently unnecessary extra letters…”.
Boy was I wrong!
Of course a completely different language is going to have different pronunciation of the letters in the alphabet, which in turn defines the pronunciation of the words… DOH!
I am now several weeks into the course and my progression in the language has surprised me greatly. I still struggle with speaking in Swedish, but the reading and writing skills have come along surprisingly fast. While there is a long way to go, I’m very pleased with current progress.
The course material is fantastic, and I cannot speak highly enough of the teachers. As you would hope, they are dedicated to enabling immigrants like myself to learn Swedish as swiftly and comfortably as possible.
Currently studying for an upcoming exam, and planning to spend more time speaking only Swedish in my daily life.
More on the nightmare of a middle-aged Brit learning a foreign language in the future…