How to not get overwhelmed by Swedish

Photo: Emelie Asplund/imagebank.sweden.se

When learning a language, it is important to have the required motivation and go all in. However, people tend to go overboard with details, which discourages them in the long run. The purpose of this article is to show you how to approach language learning in a way that will prevent you from getting overwhelmed by everything. Because that would slow down your progress and make your mind explode. Well, not literally, but you would give up. Probably.

Learn the basics

“O M G!! That’s so obvious” is what you’re thinking right now now. And yes, it might seem obvious, but people tend to move on too fast, not properly grasping the basics first. I’m not saying it’s wrong to take a look at more advanced topics even in the beginning, I’m one of those types of learners myself, but mostly you need to learn about A before learning about B. Get a grasp and a feel for the language structure before proceeding but don’t move on too quickly, review first and make sure you understand the soul of the language.

Don’t learn every detail

My major philosophy when it comes to langauage learning is not to deep-dive into every detail of a language. If you want to learn Swedish, learn the basics and then let yourself develop a gut feeling for these things rather than to cram. You know all those tips and tricks on how to determine the gender of a noun or which plural ending to choose? Don’t use them. They could come in handy, sure, but start using the language immediately and learn to create a feeling for this instead. You will learn as you go, instead of sitting with your nose in a book at 3 A.M. trying to understand how to pair which suffix with what word. It will come to you, naturally.

Start using Swedish right away

Whether it’s writing your own diary in Swedish or chatting with a native friend, it’s important that you just get out there and use Swedish instead of just learning ABOUT it. Write/talk about your day, your work, school and your hobbies. Eventually you will have learned and repeated the vocabulary for these things, that you frequently do and talk about. Things that are important to you. Furthermore, you will learn crucial words for constructing sentences properly along the way. Everything without cramming. It will prevent you from being overwhelmed and you will notice progress a lot quicker.

Translate a book

Buy your favorite book in Swedish (or any other language you’re learning for that matter) and use a dictionary to try to get the gist of, let’s say, a paragraph a day. You will see how Swedish relates to the language you first read the book in, and you will use your brain to absorb the language without cramming. It’s also a lot of fun. You don’t need to set any goals, just do it as a bonus and if something makes zero sense, it is probably an idiomatic expression that you can look up. And if so, you’ve learned something very useful.

Learn only what you need

The conclusion of this article is this: learn only what you need, don’t cram and try to stuff your brain with conjugation groups and other grammar rules that you will forget in the spur of the moment. You will make mistakes anyway, even though you think you know these, so just start using the language, butcher it, get corrected, fall off your horse, get up again, and eventually you will be fluent. Adding to this doesn’t hurt but if it overwhelms you, go back to these tips and approach the language like a native child. Happy learning!

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