Super-svensk did a really good explanation of ett and en. I screen shot it so I'd remember(try and remember). I wondered if there were any good learning sites like the ones kids use to help me with plurals? I can think of several in english that my children use for spellings/words. I was thinking a swedish one might help me a little. Anyone have any ideas?
They are two different vowel sounds - ä is a different letter, rather than an accented a. This applies to å and ö as well.
To hear the difference you could go to Google translate, set the input language to Swedish, type "ä, a, ä, a, ä, a" and click the little speaker icon. Also try "äpple" as compared to "apple". Google's synthesised Swedish voice is nowhere near as good as the English one, but for just hearing the vowel sounds it's good enough.
Unfortunately it's not that simple. The Swedish gender system is quite messed up and doesn't really follow any pattern like they do in English. My best advice would be to just learn them together with the word. Generally "en" is used in 80% of the words so if you don't know which ones to use, then go for en rather than ett.