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  5. Feeling Discouraged Again...


Feeling Discouraged Again...

So, I've managed to get past the second checkpoint after 19 days. I really want to learn Swedish but none of it is sticking like Dutch did so easily... Sometimes I feel like just quitting but I don't want to give up on it.

With Dutch I went at a fast pace and was happy but I feel like I'm going pretty slow, and I'm not retaining it all. Should I review the lessons for a few days after I do them? Or should I keep going, then if I don't recognize a word when it comes up, add it to my Swedish<-->Dutch flashcards? I'm kinda at a loss as to what to do to get everything to stick in my head.

At this rate I feel like I'd finish the course at an A2 level, while I finished the Dutch course at around B1-B2 because I had practiced so much with natives (which I can't do with Swedish because I can't pick up meaning from cognates)...

I have time to learn it, I have motivation (wanting to understand music, make new friends, be "quadrilingual" eventually, speak a cool language that is almost impossible to immediately hear cognates when spoken, etc)... I'm just like dying so hard at this lol.

  • Does writing down the words physically really help?
  • Any memory tips for remembering stuff, like making a mental picture, or doing something quickly to remember the word? (My brain automatically makes memory tricks and I catch all the Dutch/German cognates)

Thanks for any tips/advice... I thought Swedish would be closer to German than I am now finding. >

February 3, 2015



Dutch and German are very closely related. Most languages are not so close. Swedish is about as close to English as it is to German.

I'm not retaining all the words as I progress through the lessons, either. I think that's to be expected. Eventually they return in later lessons. I always start my studying by strengthening any lesson that isn't gold to catch more words I have forgotten. Seeing them again many days later is how long term memory is built. Expecting to remember everything the first time is unreasonable to me, as that's not how memory works.

A lot of people find writing words out by hand helps. I think part of why that works is it forces you to think about the word for a second or two as you write it. I don't write due to a wrist injury. I do, however, spell out the word and say it a few times mentally when I couldn't remember it. I also try to use parts of what I know in messages to friends (I have a couple that speak Swedish), or on Duolingo, or elsewhere. I'm often wrong. People correct me. But it helps tremendously, because I get to practice!

The other thing I try to do is to never translate word by word in my head. I try to understand what is being said, building a mental image or concept, and then translating the concept to words in the other language. When I'm reading or writing Swedish, I never think of the English word, but only the concept. Even though the course is English-Swedish, I would also avoid thinking in German or Dutch because you'll end up imposing their patterns, sentence structures, and idioms onto Swedish. If you translate concepts through another language first, you'll always be slower than if you put words to concepts directly. Let your brain try hard to find the Swedish word for several seconds, and if you can't think of it, hover the word, type it in, and move on. Chances are high you'll see the same word a couple more times before the lesson is over.

I also try to read Swedish things. Most of the time there will be several words per sentence I don't know, but looking up a few words a day isn't bad. Sometimes I'll take a song like Hej gamle man and sing along. I'll look up all the words in the lyrics (text eller texter om du googlar) I don't know, and then I can picture everything while I listen to the song over and over again. Take a listen to Hej gamle man. You'll be surprised how many of the lyrics you understand.

I'll probably end up at an A1 or A2 level when I finish. I can always come back to review and build the language foundation, but my next step after finishing will be hiring a tutor on italki to help improve my pronunciation, and vocabulary building through reading.

Good luck!


Thanks! I will write words out from now on. I don't really translate in my head, I think I developed the skill from German just to kinda "let the word come to me" instead of trying to translate it. I just made a Dutch<-->Swedish vocab set for extra Dutch practice if the Swedish course has words the Dutch course didn't.

And I'll try to just keep going through lesson by lesson while keeping the tree golden, and maybe I'll start developing that long term memory (I hope)... Thanks!


I have lots of problems memorising memorising words in non Germanic languages but far less with Swedish. I enjoy looking for word origins and looking at sound changes. Using a good dictionary with word origin in English is useful for that.

Below are a few things that work for me.

ögonblick moment

ögon eyes blick gaze

a moment a blink of an eye, a glancing gaze, an organ blink

For other words I try to imagine a link gråter to cry sounds like to grieve, kväll evening sounds like fall eg sun fall dusk evening

sometimes because I saw something funny or strange eg https://www.duolingo.com/comment/6742382 see the Swedish Chef clip from Sesame Street

"Stekpannan är borta." The frying pan is gone. the steakpan is aborted

The sound shift English to Swedish. The link between English and Dutch, for grammar and syntax is closer but for me there is a bigger sound shift between English and Dutch.

Maybe looking at the older forms of English will help, especially looking at the original and translations of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. not directly relevant but the sound is more like Swedish than modern English.

http://www.librarius.com/cantales.htm http://www.bartleby.com/40/0101.html


The Swedish Chef is actually a Muppet and not from Sesame Street. He's famous for saying "bork bork bork!" when he throws things away. It's speculated he's saying a poorly pronounced bort, an adverb for "away" (related to borta of course).

You should note that he's throwing away kastruller (sauce pans) and not en stekpanna. It was the closet I could find to make that gif ;)


Yes. saucepans and "away" but the animation is a great aid. I am slowly learning Korean. There are few learning resources in English compared to many other languages, and almost nothing in a style that works for me. I am told there are more resources for Japanese to Korean but still most are in a conventional teaching/learning style.


Sorry for all the complaining... I just need tips specifically for Swedish, or new tricks to try for memorizing non-cognates that I can't make a mental path for.


I'm reading all of that and I wish I would be a native speaker of a germanic language anyway, it would be definitely easier for me than having the conversion from slavic language into germanic one. Even though, knowing english and german, swedish seems like the easiest language out there (compared to finnish for example). Sorry for posting nothing related to actual topic of the post, I just wanted to complain and encourage a bit ;) It's not that difficult after all!


i get the same problem, i get disheartened and feel like giving up... but i dont cos i have good reasons for wanting to learn. I did a few strengthen practices before moving on past the first checkpoint because i really thought it hadnt stuck... Now none of the new words im learning in section 2 are sticking either, but to my great surprise i seem to be able to completely translate the sentences they are contained in. That tells me that section 1 did stick, eventually. And while these new words dont seem to be sticking at all, perhaps they will have done by the time i get to the end of the section and do a few strengthen practices. I'm quite impressed with how well it actually works, almost without noticing i've learned quite a bit, as far as basics go.

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