Not many people in the world speak Swedish in their daily lives. Well, the Swedes and a few Finns. In total about 10 million people.
Character of the Swedish language
The Swedish language sounds to many foreigners very pleasant, as if someone is singing, like a bird on sunny spring day. It’s very melodic and, unless you meet Swedes from the very south of Sweden, almost free of unpleasant ch-sounds [x], which you find plentiful in for example the German or Dutch language.
Is Swedish easy to learn?
If you already speak English, then Swedish isn’t the most difficult language to learn. The grammar is rather simple, once you accept that there is no way to understand the rule whether the article of a noun is en or ett. In 80% of the cases you are right saying it’s “en” though. En bil (a car), ett hus (a house). One simply has to learn it by hard.
Apart from that you will probably understand the Swedish language after a short period, say six months to a year of studies, depending on how much effort you put into it. Joining a beginners course in Sweden or an intense Swedish course in your home country should bring you to solid level of understanding Swedish, so you will be able to know what’s going on around you when you are among Swedes.
Basic speaking, for example the ability to have a five-minute conversation in Swedish, introducing yourself: 3-6 months of studies (about 5-10 hours per week).
Speaking Swedish fluently in longer conversations and about diverse topics of everyday life certainly takes a bit longer. And if you are from a country with a less melodic language, adjusting to those Swedish singing sounds will reveal your foreign accent even after many years of living in Sweden.
For example, Swedes understand immediately that I’m originally from Germany when I say for example: “Jag gillar älgar och Drottning Silvia“, “I like moose and Queen Silvia“.
Understand Swedish culture & quirks, read the book
Personally, it took me about five month of full time studies (40 hours per week) in Sweden to speak basic Swedish. And about an additional year of residence in Sweden, with part time courses (20 hours per week), to be able to speak sufficient business Swedish.
Speak English in Sweden
If this is all too much for you and you rather don’t want any Swedish words ever to come out of your mouth, you can easily survive in Sweden without ever talking Swedish. Of course, integration in Sweden is much easier when you are able to understand and communicate with Swedes in their mother tongue, but you can actually come a rather long way with English in Sweden.
About 90% of all Swedes speak English. Not just a little, you might be surprised how good it is. Just go to any café and order a Cappuccino in English, every servant will understand you and not only that, they won’t(!) even role their eyes when you don’t try to speak Swedish, as it might happen in other countries in Europe. You probably know which countries I’m talking about.
Compliments about English skills
When Swedes are told their English is very good, they usually reply saying that most movies and TV programs are often not synchronized and only have Swedish subtitles. Therefore they are exposed to the English language since an early age.
More about the Swedish language