Things that have helped this beginner
In case it would help anyone else, I thought I’d compile a few ways that I’m learning Swedish in and with Duolingo. I’ve only been learning in earnest for the past couple of months, but I do wish I’d known some of these things to begin with. And they may not help everyone—your results may vary! If there are any differences in location or equipment, it might be helpful to know that I use a Windows 10 PC and an Android phone, I am a native U.S. English speaker, and I subscribe to Duolingo Plus.
HOW I AM USING DUOLINGO
I noticed that when I was using the Duolingo website, I wasn’t getting pronunciation practice. Tech support let me know that Duolingo in Chrome has access to my computer’s mic, and I could get those exercises using that. So though I prefer another browser, I am using Chrome for Duolingo. I’d guess that other browsers using the same Chromium engine might work, too. But if yours doesn’t work, try Chrome.
Even though Duolingo lets one “peek ahead” to more skills before getting to Level 5 in previous ones, I tend not to do that. I’m focusing on one skill at a time, in order. That is working well with the way I’m using flashcards, described further down.
Duolingo differs a little depending on whether you’re going through the website or the phone app. There are reasons I use both. I can use offline lessons on the phone (and it’s always with me), but typing is much easier on my PC. Speaking of which…
I’m very familiar with MacOS, and it has an international keyboard as its default. I predominantly used a Mac 30 years ago as a French major, and I still have access and use Macs for some things. Using international letters is just as easy on a PC, but it requires some setup first. Please forgive the detail, but it took me forever to find this, so I’m going to go step by step in the hope of saving others time. Again, this is for Windows 10.
- In Settings, choose Time & Language, then Language.
- Chances are you will only see one language listed on this page. I recommend not adding any here, unless you want your apps to change their menus, etc. Because I’m native English-US, that’s the only language I have there. Click on your native language and an Options button will appear. Click on that.
- Click on Add a keyboard, and choose whichever you like! If you’re not sure which letters map to which keys on your new keyboard, there is a handy webpage that maps them all out for you: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/globalization/windows-keyboard-layouts
Every time you turn your computer on or wake it up, it will default to the first keyboard layout in the list you see after step 3 above. To toggle between them, use WindowKey-spacebar. My preferred order is US (QWERTY), United States-International (QWERTY), and Swedish (QWERTY). I suspect the second one will be the favorite of many Swedish learners, but I got tired of having to use the AltGR key for the letter Å, so I’m using Swedish for Swedish now. My fingers are still building that muscle memory. :)
While I would hate to try learning a language from flashcards, I wanted some to speed up my recognition and recall of new vocabulary. (I’ve heard Duolingo has them for other languages, but I’m determined to learn Swedish at present.) This is an area where I know others know a lot more than I do, and I’ve read many posts that have a lot of information about it on this site. The following is working well for me and is an edited excerpt of an email I sent to my daughter (also learning Swedish).
I would not be gobbling up Swedish vocabulary like I am without the Anki flash card program. It’s not pretty compared to Quizlet, and it doesn’t have the fun games, but it is giving me all the words in the order Duolingo teaches them to me. It also won’t just track what you’ve done, it will track how hard a word is for you and give it to you again sooner or later accordingly.
It’s also powerful—and like most powerful programs it’s got so many options they look overwhelming. Here are my recommendations on setting up.
- On your PC, go to https://ankiweb.net/about and create an account (so that you can sync to the web and between devices).
- Go to https://apps.ankiweb.net/ to grab the PC version of the program and install it (this is the only way to get the Duolingo Swedish cards in there). If you want the android app, AnkiDroid is in the Google Play store. Sign in with your account with all the apps you’re using.
- Download the Duolingo Swedish deck at https://ankiweb.net/shared/info/253287185, and import it into the PC app. Then sync so that it’s in your account in the cloud. NOTE: I have edited my deck so that it a) doesn’t give me antonyms as a hint (it was too easy to remember “möjligt” after seeing “omöjligt,” for example), and b) has a new card type so that I get Swedish -> English cards in addition to the original English -> Swedish.
- The flash card Deck settings I’m using do seem to sync along with the progress I’ve made in the cards. So I think you only have to set deck settings once and they sync (e.g., if you change New Cards per day to 0). And you can set them in any of the programs. The one Deck setting I would change when beginning is in the Lapses tab I set Leeches to Tag Only. (Leeches are cards that are just really hard to get—you’ve missed them about 8 times. I just don’t want cards disappearing on me; I want to learn them.)
- If you’re using AnkiDroid, in General settings, check Automatic synchronization (I do still sync before quitting on my phone. I’m not convinced Android is letting it sync on exit.).
Once setup is done and you’re studying: The way this deck is set up, any time a lesson introduces a verb in Duolingo, that verb is introduced in this flash card deck in both its finite and infinite forms—e.g., I love (jag älskar) and to love (att älska). I am only now at the level in Duolingo where I’m learning infinitives, so whenever I used to get a flash card that said “infinitive” on it (or it might have been “infinite,” I don’t remember), while on that card I would choose Suspend Card. Then I wouldn’t see it again AT ALL until I unsuspended it.
Keep New Cards per day set at whatever the default is until you are presented with a card (other than an infinitive as described above) that you haven’t seen in Duolingo yet. Then “undo” that card so that it’s still considered new, and set New Cards per day to 0. Later when you are in the next Duolingo skill, change the number back.
Oh! I forgot to include this earlier! I've been watching Bonus Family and Fallet on Netflix to hear actual Swedish conversations and to begin to learn to recognize words spoken by real people. :)
I actually created every single word on Anki from scratch, for two reasons:
I wanted to add any declination of the word I like (definitives and plural for nouns, en/ett/plural endings for adjectives and time forms for verbs) and I wanted to use the flashcards between my mother tongue (German) and Swedish, not yet again English as in-between-language. This is particularly helpful for me because German and Swedish are very similar in structure and also often in vocabulary, so this helps me better using my native "instinct" when it comes to building sentences, rather than thinking in English first.
It's a lot of work, I admit, but it's rewarding for me. I immediately learn all the important forms for every word I put in there.
I have not done it myself, but here is more information: https://apps.ankiweb.net/docs/manual.html#sharing-decks-publicly