I've loved to study Swedish with Duolingo and have refreshed things that I have forgotten since I studied Swedish at school. It's way easier to study Swedish through English rather than trough Finnish because the grammatical structures are so similar.
However, I still have problems with comprehending spoken Swedish. Especially Swedish spoken in Sweden. Finland Swedish is a lot easier. It's comparable to the difficulty with trying to listen to someone to speak English with Scottish accent, even though I can understand Received Pronunciation perfectly.
Are there any good tips how to train my ear? Any secret key?
I'm trying to listen to Sveriges Radio P1. It's a station with a lot of talking, book readings etc. The level is way beyond my current comprehension, so at this stage I'm just picking out words or phrases here and there. I'm not listening really attentively, just more in the background, to try get used to the sound of the language. Early days yet, so it's hard to say if it's really working but I am enjoying at the moment. :) For simpler Swedish, try Klartext from Sveriges Radio - short news articles in "easy" Swedish. The sound files are just a couple of minutes long. http://sverigesradio.se/sida/default.aspx?programid=493
What seems to work best for me (with Russian) is to listen to audio books read not very quickly and to also follow along, especially at first, with the written text. Listen several times. Your speed will gradually improve. Whenever I find a reader who is easier to understand than most, I try to buy as many recordings by him (or her) as possible.
I've been trying to find something like that for German, and the best advice I could get from natives and those of the Duolingo community was to listen to videos in that language with subtitles.
I have recently downloaded the Swedish Harry Potter audio books. Now I have read every Harry Potter book at least five million times, so this is a great way for me to learn Swedish pronunciation, sentence structure and translation, because I know what they are talking about. Also, audio books are clearly spoken, well pronounced and the speaker usually has no accent. Watching Swedish Disney movies helps too. Anything you know by heart, so you can really study the language without getting distracted by the contents of the words, if that makes any sense.
That's a great idea. It's better to listen to something that you are familiar with because then you can concentrate on the pronunciation aspect without your brain trying to guess the meaning.
I tried radio and films first. Radio was an absolutely waste of time imho, in films I was at least able to guess what it was about. Understanding was easier and easier with watching a film a second and a third time but the problem with that is, that I can understand more but it is boring anyway, watching the same film over and over again.
Lately I use Youtube a lot to improve my Swedish. There are a lot of videos about learning Swedish, using grammar and life in Sweden. Many of them are with easy words and most important for me they speak slowly or at least not too fast. It is a great feeling watching a full 5 minutes (yeah, really long, in deed) film and understand almost everything. :-)
It is funny that you mention Finland Swedish, because I was just going to say that a great place to practice listening to Swedish is to watch YouTube clips of the Mumin TV show, which is dubbed in an absolutely BEAUTIFUL Finland Swedish accent. To me Finland Swedish has the magical warmth of Scottish and Irish.
But, back to the point, AdLibris Mondo is a great website to check out. It is not free, but it does sell Swedish language e books and audio books and more to the point actually delivers them to non Swedes.
On the free side, have you checked out the SVT Play app for iPad and iPhones? Although a lot of Swedish TV shows are not available outside of Sweden, a good amount of SVT TV is available to view through the SVT app. For beginners, there is also the BarnKanalen App which features children's TV shows. Last year, they showed Alfons Åberg episodes, which are currently only available on YouTube. Alfons is a GREAT slow paced Swedish show that will give you a nice chance to catch up on listening comprehension.
Exactly, I also think Finland Swedish is so casual and warm sounding! It kind of has the same tone that Finnish has but with Swedish words.
I also discovered that watching the Moomins on Youtube på svenska is great exercise. And now I have started to watch some SVT news. You just have to be really concentrated and resist the irritation of not understanding all the words. Especially the news has all sorts of political vocabulary that I am not so familiar with.
As a native English speaker, it still takes me time to learn new accents in English and French (which I am refreshing like you). For me, if I know the language, it comes down to practice. Try to listen to half an hour every day. Music counts, too. If you don't know a word, think of how it would be spelt. You may recognise the spelling better than the sound.