How Do I Learn Swedish Well? [Expert Swedish Learners Advice Needed]
*TL;DR: So, for those of you who feel you have really, really excelled in Swedish, how did you do it? What did you do so that you got the colloquial vocab, the extra words you wanted, the extra practice? (Might still benefit to read the below if you have time)*
So, I began learning German 3.5 years ago. In October I came onto Duolingo so I could get ahead of my French 1 class, hoping to finish the tree on here by summer. Then I saw they had Dutch and I was like "Oh let me test this" and I finished a few skills and couldn't stop because it was so fun and easy.
Since I knew so much about the German language, Dutch came naturally almost. So many of the words were exactly the same, just spelled or said a bit different. For instance, vergänglich and vegankelijk. I could already read and understand half of simple sentences in Dutch, so in the first week of learning I started typing to native speakers, looking up words with Google Translate. My vocab expanded extremely fast and it was easy to pick up on the language by just reading and forcing myself to reply in the language. I finished the Dutch tree in 55 days.
I wanted to learn Swedish too, so I started it, and it's very very very far off from German and Dutch. Between German and Dutch I could understand a ton. However, with knowledge of German/Dutch/English, I can only get a few words in Swedish because they're so different.
I'd like to practice typing to native speakers from week one like I did with Dutch, but I feel like I won't be able to understand it as well. I'd basically be Google Translating every word I needed, and there's no use in that. However, I really want to pick up colloquial Swedish and use the vocab a native uses. That's how I did with Dutch.
I've been listening to Swedish music for ~30 minutes per day in my car on absolutely highest volume so that I can annoy other drivers and hear the words really well, just as I did with Dutch. But with Dutch I would hear something and be like "Wait, ongeveer... ungefahr... OMG WHAT HAX" and with Swedish I hear distinct words without meaning. Music and texting natives and YouTube is how I did Dutch, but it's just not happening for me with Swedish.
I feel really discouraged always because I feel like I'm not remembering the vocab or learning it as well. :[
Instead of trying to see links between Swedish and Dutch/German, it might be helpful for you to look for links between Swedish and English. Many Swedish words are similar to their English counterparts (ex: bok (book), hus (house), etc.). I honestly think that Swedish is an easier language for a foreigner to learn because there are few adjective declensions, only two genders, no verb conjugations for the subject, and not as many irregular words. Just give it time :)
Swedish actually has a lot of cognates and semi-cognates (I might be making that word up) with both English and German. However, the phonemes seem to differ enough between Swedish and German that they are sometimes hard to pick out right away. Random examples that come to mind: Schildkröt/sköldpadda, Gewöhnlich/vanligt, bezahlen/betalar, Gabbel/gaffel.
This is true. One just need more time to find the Swedish patterns than to find the Dutch ones. But you will find the patterns. What helped me a lot (although I wouldn't say I excelled in Swedish) was reading a Swedish book parallel with a translation. This way I didn't have to look up words, could progress fairly fast and it was fun. By the end of the first book I hardly ever needed the translation to find out what the story was about. (Of course I couldn't understand all the words, but I could understand the basic meaning of the sentences.) This gives you a basic vocabulary and a feeling for basic grammar.
Well, since I live in Hungary and you cannot buy too many Swedish books here, I guess I had luch to find an Agatha Christie novel in a second-hand bookshop. Since her works are translated into many languages, I managed to find a Hungarian translation as well. But I guess one could buy an e-book on sites like www.adlibris.com/se. The only problem is that the site is in Swedish... But of course one can you Google translat for that.
I've always found Swedish videos easier to listen to and learn from than the music.
Mostly because when something happens, they'll describe what it is or say something about it, so you hear the words while what they mean is also being seen.
Which makes it much more memorable.
I felt the same way with German. Luckily I just keep going because I have a purpose to learn it. Maybe you feel discouraged because you have no purpose to learn it, no motivation. The one thing that I always use to help me stay motivated is "Your future depends on German", then I always decide to keep going.
Though I haven't been on the Swedish course for very long, I've found that actually writing down the words with their definitions helps a ton. Maybe it's just because I'm a heavily kinesthetic learner, but everything tends to go to memory more easily that way and you also create your own mini "dictionary" that you can study whenever you want. When I can't remember all of the words from a lesson (which, let's face it, is all the time) I just go to my notebook and quiz myself until I can remember anything. It takes a lot longer, but you remember more. As for the pronunciation, it really does just take time. I had been working on the Danish tree where, at least in my opinion, the words are much harder to pronounce. At first I couldn't even hear the sounds that aren't in English but are apparently in the Danish words. I can hear them perfectly fine now, and I'm just beginning to be able to say them.