It’d be silly for me to continue for too long about learning Swedish without mentioning the resources I use, so here’s a list of what I’m currently using, as well as an explanation of when I use it; it’s the Swedish equivalent for my Norwegian resources and my Korean resources:
- Penn State University Swedish lessons: Used from the very beginning for basic vocabulary and grammar. I happened upon a really nifty bunch of Swedish lessons from a professor. They have been extremely helpful from the get-go, and I advise this to be one of the first things you look at if learning Swedish. There’s a great rundown of not only vocabulary, but also bits of grammar, but never enough to overwhelm you. Definitely one of my favorite finds.
- LingQ: Used to start learning words. This can be used from the very beginning! LingQ is a fantastic site that allows you to hover your cursor over words in their different language lessons and stories and see the meaning. When you feel comfortable with a word, you mark it as known and move on. This is also the tool that gives me those nifty, auto-updated language badges on the right sidebar.
- Google translate: Used all-the-freaking-time to define single words. Here’s how it normally works for me: I see a word in LingQ or hear a word in a podcast (also coming up), and then look it up via Google translate if I know how it’s spelled. I hardly ever use Google translate for translating phrases, because if you give it more than one word, it often messes up. For best results, translate FROM your target language INTO English, as Google translate tends to have a better grasp on English than some of the other languages. It’s also decent enough to use vice-versa, but I don’t trust its English-to-Swedish, etc. translations as much as the reverse. Remember, in the beginning, when translating something in Google translate, don’t use ambiguous sentences that can be translated in multiple different ways; try to stick to simple sentences until you can tell when Google translate is wrong, at which point you can feed it more complex things.
- Memrise: Used all the time during any stage of learning Swedish, or any other language, for that matter. Using Memrise is like using flashcards, but a lot more beneficial since it utilizes not just repetition, but spaced repetition. That means it checks how long ago you learned a word and reminds you to revisit the word at a time when you’re most likely to be about to forget it. It often has (user-created!) mnemonic devices to help aid the recall process even further. I wholeheartedly recommend Memrise to anyone who’s learning any language. You can even create your own deck to help other users practice! Check out my most useful Swedish words deck at that link.
- iTunes podcasts: Used after I learn some initial vocabulary so I can then listen for the words I’ve just learned. This serves as my “listening to natives” practice when I’m not currently speaking to Swedes or Swedish learners. You can’t expect listening to a podcast/watching a show in your target language to be beneficial for learning words if you have no beginning vocabulary; the key to really getting it to work is if you know a few words so you can figure out the words next to them. If you know the word “har” means “have” in Swedish, you can probably guess the words around it would mean something like “I” or “done”. For example, today I learned a lot of past participles (the equivalent of the English “have been”, “have seen”, “have said”, etc.) via LingQ, and ended up catching quite a few of them in the podcast. In the iTunes Store tab, I set my language in the bottom-right to Swedish. From then on, it begins listing some Swedish-language podcasts I can listen to. I’ve listened to a few and have found that my favorite is called Crazy Town med Kringlan och Josefinito. I like both of their voices, and the fact that there’s one male and one female helps me listen to both masculine and feminine ways of speaking, though in Swedish they don’t differ too much. This also gets you used to the overall sound of a language, which is important.
- Translated.net: ExTREMEly useful. Why? Because you type a word in and this site gives youtons of example sentences with that word so you can see the different contexts in which it can be used. One of my favorites.
- Rosetta Stone: Used only supplementarily to learn grammar, such as conjugations and adjective/noun agreement. I have a few issues with Rosetta Stone that I won’t delve into too deeply at the moment, but while it’s not a fantastic main tool, it’s great to use alongside other resources. Out of all of these resources, Rosetta Stone is the least important and helpful to me.
If you have any fantastic resources that work for you, feel free to mention them, but these seven in conjunction work extremely well for me!