Some tips, advices and personal opinions
So, I started learning Swedish on DL about 10 weeks ago and I just wanted to write some comments which would reflect my general opinion on the subject.
When I decided to start learning a language, I had to make a tough decision by choosing the right one. I already knew its going to be one of the following three: Swedish, Danish or Norwegian. Icelandic was out of the question as it is considered to be a minor Nordic language comparing to other ones, while Finnish is really beautiful, but very complexed and hard to learn. So I was doing some research and found Danish to be extremely hard to pronounce, while Norwegian practically has two different languages (Bokmal and Nynorsk) and after listening to some Swedish people talking, I realized that I like it very much and that I really was wrong thinking it was similar to German.
What attracted me most to DL was learning through examples. All explanations are very simple, short and justified to someone who is a beginner. When you read them, it is already time for you to start practicing by translating sentences and learn all those rules through examples. It's fun, it's useful, it's great. The second thing I really like is how DL is never trying to kill your motivation. Even when you are wrong, even when you make a mistake in a sentence, it will just keep coming back to you and practically force you to write it down the right way in order to progress. You might kinda get frustrated sometimes, but at the end - you will correct your mistakes, and you will learn your lesson.
On the other hand, DL has its cons. An essential thing about learning the language is USING it, and on DL, you are not doing that. I mean, you are writing things down, but you are not speaking at all. I realized that after maybe 6 or 7 weeks and decided to try infiltrate the sound of the language in my head in every possible way. First - I downloaded the stream of a Swedish radio station. I couldn't understand much (actually, almost anything), but listening to every-day Swedish is doing wonders to your adaptation of the language melody. Secondly - I started listening to Swedish songs (I like pop-rock and I'm a huge fan of Eurovision Song Contest so it was an easy choice for me). And last, but not least - I discovered a website named 8sidor where I could listen to news in Swedish. So now, at least I can listen and try to understand the sound of the language, so one day, hopefully, I'll have less problems while using it myself in a conversation.
The next thing was trying to practice my writing and translation skills. I advise you to try and write an simple essay - up to 10-15 short sentences. Like> what is your name, how old you are, where do you live, what do you do for living etc. Those are short, simple, in present tense and it should be doable for someone who is level 10 at DL and have been learning for 10 weeks. And it was, I had to use dictionary two times, but the essay was fine, and I was satisfied with it. And then, I found few pages of Swedish children story "Emil i Lonneberga", which was written in simple Swedish (well duh, its for kids) and tried to translate as much as i could. I had some difficulties, but I did learn some new words and phrases. Yesterday, I bumped into another website with children stories in .pdf format, so I will start reading and translating them ASAP.
So, to conclude this post, here are my tips:
Use DL every day, improve your skills, try not to skip a single day. If you don't have enough time for taking a new lesson, then choose one of the old ones and repeat it. It can't hurt, and you will develop some working habits.
Try writing the important things down. I have a notebook by my side and I found it to be extremely helpful. Trust me, you will learn much more by writing down.
Listen to Swedish ASAP, from the day one if you ask me. You won't understand much, probably anything, but it is important to hear the melody and the accent. Download a radio stream and turn it on while you're doing something else. TRUST ME, IT HELPS!
After some time, test your understanding of the written language Try finding some websites or facebook pages in Swedish and read the articles you are interested in. You are definitely not going to understand everything, but - if you can understand enough to realize what is the subject of the topic and what is it about - you're good! If you can't, try again in few weeks.
Grammar is more important than vocabulary. Yes, I know that this is a brave statement and many people won't agree with me, but I really think it's more important to understand how to build a sentence the right way than memorizing words you are going to use. If you get to the level where you can build a sentence, you will in time memorize the words you need to.
Test your writing skills by writing a short essay. I can't actually say when is the right time for doing this. It took me 10 weeks, while someone would probably get to that level in a month. But try. If you fail, you'll know that you're not ready yet. If you do it right, there's a motivation boost.
That's just about it, I am terrible sorry for such a long post, but this is actually not everything I wanted to say, there's certainly more, but if you have some questions - I'd be more than happy to provide answers to them.
Tack så mycket och hej då :)
Very nice and insightful post, but I mildly disagree with Swedish not being like German. While I agree that they are distinct languages, I find it rather close to German (and English, which is actually quite close to German) all the time so far. 'Fisch' and fisk (fish), 'heter' and 'heißen' (to be called), 'och' and 'auch/und' (and), 'kan' and 'kann' (can) for example. And the sound reminds me much of Nordic German dialect sounds (which is spoken close to Denmark anyway). So I guess it depends which level of 'similar' you are looking at. I personally find Swedish 'easy as' to learn for now. Thanks for the links! Very helpful and I TOTALLY agree to the listening bit. I did that in France when learning French. The French TV stations were on when I was doing dishes and housework and if you want it or not, your brain works on it - even if you are not actively listening (which makes it better of course. Great post :-)
Well, I must agree with you, spot on. Those similarity are absolutely correct, I didn't explain myself very well :)
I thought Swedish will be almost the same as German, as it sounded just the same to me. I never studied neither German or Swedish before so I just couldn't tell the difference. But now, at this point, I am able to make a clear distinction between those to. First of all, I now find Swedish to be very melodic, while German still seems kinda rough to me. Now only Danish sounds like German to me :D
So, they indeed are similar, but they are not the same as I thought before, that's it. I just didn't use the right term. :)
I guess the 'rough' has to do with you not actually understanding what is said. I found when learning a language it becomes a lot more melodic and pleasant, once you have an insight into the content. The 'sound' of German is similar to quite a few languages in the region in my feeling. Like Dutch (it is rougher on the edges in my impression, but more melodic in other ways), Swiss German, Danish, Swedish, Alsation and somewhat Polish as well I think. But the more you know about a language, the less you notice the rough bits, as you fill them with meaning - at least that's what I think! :-) Either way - I may actually keep learning Swedish for a lot longer, since I really find it easy-ish so far (much easier than English. Whether that is related to the fact that Swedish is easy for German speakers or English was simply the first foreign language for me I don't know). :-)
That's interesting because I've seen many people complaining about how hard is for them to learn Swedish with German being their mother tongue. I guess it depends from person to person. :)
Swedish pronounciation is really difficult for me too, but I'm Danish :) While I agree that German and Swedish share a lot of vocabulary I don't think they sound much like each other.. German pronunciation is much easier :)
There's also Klartext, which is a radio news segment spoken in very simple Swedish.
They usually try to make the text description match what the reporter is saying.
I also agree that listening to the language is super important even if you don't understand a thing you're hearing, particularly with Swedish.
Yes, 8sidor uses TTS. If the starting point for your Swedish learning is DuoLingo you'll feel right at home. A lot of programming on SVT Play (http://www.svtplay.se) has optional Swedish language subtitles, so that would be a possible avenue for a leap beyond the robotic.
Yes, I forgot to mention it's TTS like on DL or Google Translate but it's quite good if you want to practice listening and understanding. Later on, you'd want to hear live broadcasting or news reporters speaking. But this is good for the start.
Sportbladet is good for someone who is into sports. Their articles are quite simple.
First off- great job! Would you mind posting the page that has the PDFs you mentioned? I was trying to find some Swedish children stories to read. Tack!
I may need to try the method with writing down everything into a notebook when doing the revisions. It would be probably better for the long-term memorization of the vocabulary rather than just looking and typing on the screen.