As much as I’d love to tell you that there’s a magic potion to learn Swedish overnight—this is, alas, not the case. Most language learners do, however, yearn to find the fastest way to learn Swedish.
If you’re wondering how long it takes to become fluent in Swedish, you’ll be glad to know Swedish is among the easiest and fastest languages English-speaking beginners can learn.
Still, whatever your reason for learning Swedish, you’ll likely want to learn efficiently. Whether your goal is being able to flirt with that cute Swedish colleague of yours or moving to Sweden in pursuit of a lagom work-life balance—time is of the essence.
Luckily, there are some tips and techniques that can help you master the Swedish language quickly and easily. Let’s dive into 5 tips and 5 techniques for the fastest way to learn Swedish.
Tips for the fastest way to learn Swedish
Before getting into specific techniques and tools, there are a few general tips and principles that will help anyone looking for the fastest way to learn a language. Let’s take a look at these language-learning tips and how they apply to learning Swedish.
Tip 1: Set clear goals
The first tip for the fastest way to learn Swedish is to set specific and clear goals for your Swedish learning. This step might feel boring, but motivation is important, and setting goals will fuel that motivation. Journaling your goals and whether you reached them or not is also a fantastic way to measure your progress.
Write down specific goals with time frames. One way to specify goals is to envision a mental picture of yourself being able to do something at a certain point in time.
- You could start by writing a long-term goal, for example: “In 2 years, I want to have a fika in a café with Swedish friends and be able to chat and joke in Swedish.”
- Then, add more short-term goals, such as: “In 6 months, I want to be able to make small talk on topics I’ve studied with my Swedish colleague.” “In 3 months, I want to order my coffee in Swedish.”
- Finally, think about a goal you can accomplish in the near future, maybe: “In 1 week, I want to be able to pronounce the Swedish vowels.”
Tip 2: Nail the pronunciation
On your path to the fastest way to learn Swedish, a great tip is to try to get the pronunciation right from day 1. That partly means familiarizing yourself with the Swedish alphabet and learning the different ways the letters can be pronounced.
Luckily, Swedish uses the Latin alphabet, just like English. This will make it easier for you to learn the letters and their pronunciation. However, you will still have to put in effort, as most of the letters will be pronounced differently in Swedish compared to English. You’ll also have to get to know three new letters in the Swedish alphabet that don’t exist in the English one:
When pronouncing Swedish vowels, you might feel like your face is getting a bit of a workout. This is normal. Native Swedish speakers have been training the å-, ä- and ö-muscles all their lives. Give yourself time to develop the right facial muscles and practice, practice, practice.
Tip 3: Be smart about vocabulary
Early on in your Swedish learning journey, you’ll want to pick up some basic vocabulary. Although there’s more to learning a language than memorizing individual words, words are still building blocks you’ll need to start forming sentences.
But you don’t want to learn just any vocabulary. If you’re on a mission to find the fastest way to learn Swedish, you can focus on these five areas of improving your vocabulary:
- The basics
- Common words
- Vocabulary that is important to you
Vocabulary to learn: The basics
There are some words and phrases that are inevitable when you’re trying to learn any language. They’re the words everyone starts with. Some examples:
- Hej: Hello
- Hur mår du: How are you
- Bra: Good
- Tack: Thank you
- Ursäkta: Excuse me
- Förlåt: Sorry
- Hej då: Goodbye
Vocabulary to learn: Common words
According to Zipf’s law, the most used word in a language is generally used twice as often as the second most used word, and about three times as often as the third most used word. That’s why you should use frequency lists.
Lists like “The 1000 most common Swedish words” or “80 common Swedish phrases” will help you identify the words you need in your toolbox as you try to master Swedish as quickly as possible.
You can also use a ready-made solution, such as the app Clozemaster, that teaches you the most used words first. Most collections on Clozemaster are built based on frequency lists.
Vocabulary to learn: Cognates
You might have heard of “false friends” you should avoid when learning languages. An example is the Swedish word ansvar, which looks like the English word “answer”, but it actually means “responsibility”. Or that fart refers to “speed”, not flatulence. But have you heard of cognates?
Cognates are words that are very similar to words in another language and have the same or a similar meaning. This makes cognates easy wins, because you can remember and learn them faster. Fortunately, Swedish and English have many words that are spelled similarly or even identically. Just a few examples:
- Kontakt: Contact
- Doktor: Doctor
- Nation: Nation
- Stress: Stress
Vocabulary to learn: Interjections
If you’re interested in the fastest way to learn Swedish conversationally, interjections are great words to pick up. Words like jaha, oj, aj, nämen, or usch will enable you to fill those awkward silences with authentic Swedish sounds.
Vocabulary to learn: What’s important to you
Last but not least, there might be words that aren’t on a frequency list, but that are close to your heart. If you have a unique occupation or hobby, it’s worth taking the time to look up the right translations in Swedish.
Tip 4: Don’t be afraid of mistakes
Back to our tips: When you’re looking for the fastest way to learn Swedish, perfectionism is not your friend. Don’t be overly obsessed with saying or pronouncing things perfectly—or you’ll end up never opening your mouth.
Even if you’re trying to learn Swedish fast, you’ll likely still want to study grammar. However, don’t let the fear of using grammar incorrectly impede your speaking. An example is figuring out when to use the Swedish genders en and ett. Don’t stress about it. Your Swedish friends will understand you anyway.
Tip 5: Practice daily
Finally, all that’s left to do is speak Swedish and practice daily. Whether it’s through online Swedish lessons or calling a Swedish friend to chat—nothing can replace speaking Swedish every day. Repetition is key. Remember those facial muscles we talked about? Work those muscles daily to let your face get a little bit better at pronouncing Swedish every day.
Techniques for the fastest way to learn Swedish
The best way to learn Swedish—which also happens to be the fastest way to learn Swedish—is by immersing yourself in the Swedish language. When you constantly expose your brain to Swedish, it will learn how to not view Swedish as “noise”. Instead of filtering out Swedish, your brain will start soaking it up, allowing you to learn faster.
Now, not everyone has the chance to go on a full immersion trip to Sweden. And even people that do might find that it can take a few tries to get a Swede to agree to chat with you. The good news is that there is now an endless number of tools to learn Swedish online and expose your brain to the Swedish language. A few examples include:
- Watch Swedish videos
- Listen to Swedish music
- Listen to Swedish radio
- Listen to and read Swedish books
- Use Swedish learning apps
Technique 1: Watch Swedish videos
One technique to immerse yourself in Swedish is through videos. Swedish TV shows and movies are increasingly available through online streaming platforms such as Netflix. You can also find Swedish TV on the Swedish national broadcast app SVT Play.
You can also find tons of Swedish videos and vlogs on YouTube, giving you access to a wide array of Swedish content related to all kinds of subjects.
Technique 2: Listen to Swedish music
Another fantastic way to dive into the Swedish language is by listening to Swedish music. You get bonus points if you try to sing along. To discover what all the Swedes are listening to right now, listen to the Spotify playlist Svensk Pop and hear some popular Swedish pop.
Technique 3: Listen to Swedish radio
If you want to practice your listening comprehension at the same time as you stay up to date on current events, you might want to turn on the radio. Well, not necessarily in a literal sense. A great tool for Swedish learners is Radio Sweden på lätt svenska (Radio Sweden in easy Swedish). It’s a podcast by Radio Sweden with news in easy-to-understand Swedish for people still learning the language.
You can pick up new vocabulary at the same time as you find conversation topics to bring up with your Swedish friends.
Technique 4: Listen to and read Swedish books
Of course, nothing beats a good book on a rainy day. Settle down in your armchair with a Swedish book. There’s no shame in picking up a kids’ book—after all, several Swedish children’s books such as Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking are infamous and an important part of Swedish culture.
Technique 5: Use Swedish learning apps
You already know that you should be practicing daily—but how? A helpful tool you can always have with you is a language-learning app. Some popular examples include:
- Duolingo: An app where you can learn the basics of a language. It can also remind you to practice Swedish with the app regularly.
- Babbel: A program that provides quality language learning tools. It includes sample dialogues to put new vocabulary into context right away.
- Clozemaster: An app that gamifies your daily Swedish practice. It gives you the regular practice you need for the fastest way to learn Swedish. You can practice vocabulary and listening in the context of typical Swedish sentences.
Conclusion: The fastest way to learn Swedish
You are now equipped with the tips and techniques for the fastest way to learn Swedish.
Set clear goals, get the pronunciation right from the start, and choose the right vocab. Practice daily, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes! Immerse yourself in Swedish by listening to music, radio, and books, watching videos, and using gamifying apps.
Expose yourself to the language daily, and you’ll be on the fast track to mastering Swedish.