Stockholm chronicles part 18: Listen and speak

After nearly 5 weeks I am just about finished with the introduction course for Swedish. It has been very interesting and I´ve gained a lot of progress in understanding the language. I can now follow a conversation if the participants speak slowly. I can also get around in everyday life and have simple exchanges of words in Swedish, for example ordering at a restaurant. I made good progress but I am infuriated by the fact that even though I can understand when people talk to me I rarely can reply in a full sentence. It feels like being 3 years old again. You have things to say but don´t know how. The main reason for this is very simple: Unlike Donald Trump I do not have “[…] the best words.” 🙂

I am missing lots and lots of vocabulary in order to make myself understood. Mostly I stand there with a blank expression on my face, while my brain is racing trying to dig up what in gods name a certain word means in Swedish. I often make an assumption out of panic and end up in a situation like yesterday. I asked someone what the Wifi password was. The sentence itself was correct but I said “password” because I assumed it to be an anglicism. The person understood “passport” instead and boom, there we had yet another ridiculous case of lost in translation trying to figure out what I just said going back and forth.

But even with that I find in general that Swedes are happy when they see that I am learning the language. Obviously they laugh sometimes at the silly way I pronounce words or mistakes I make but hell, I´d do the same in German. Sometimes it´s just funny.

This video here describes my situation perfectly and I think about it every time I speak Swedish.

A self inflicted issue leading up to difficulties is that I translate from German to English to Swedish most of the time which is a habit I´ve grown into for two reasons. Reason one would be that, after living abroad for such a long time, the vast majority of my conversations are in English. That also goes for shows and movies I watch or books I read. It´s all in English, just like this blog. I often dream and think in English, too. I also tend to replace German words with English ones when I speak because I sometimes cannot remember what word XYZ means. When visiting Germany I think that makes me look like a pretentious Hipster to other Germans but what can I do? Better than stopping to speak mid sentence.

Reason two is that English is really the only way for me to ask a specific question in class. And it is also the only way for a teacher to deliver a literal translation to make us understand why grammar works in a certain way in Swedish. I really have to get away from this since Swedish is far more related to German than English and I am making it more complicated for myself.

The week after next I will start the actual Swedish course. My teacher came to me yesterday and suggested for me to skip the B course and go straight to C level. She seems to have more confidence in my language abilities than I do. But I´ll see how it goes.

Now it´s time to learn vocabulary and especially study grammar big time, because that one is a bitch in Swedish.

Catch ya later,


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