Saturday, September 11, 2010

Learning Swedish

Let’s face it, I’d love to be able to speak Swedish. Whenever I talk with my fellow Aspö residents, I'm aware they all have to accommodate me, which is pretty un-neighborly in my book. After all, if I’m going to be living on a Swedsh island, I should speak the language!

What makes it worse is that my friends are multi-lingual. I think Margaret speaks Swedish better than most Swedes, and everyone in Marcia & Rutger's household is perfectly fluent in Swedish, English and Dutch. Sooz has a degree in Italian (besides remembering an impressive amount of her Swedish from her time there), and Grant is taking advanced placement French in university. So I’m embarrassingly mono-lingual both in public and at home.

I found myself evening Swedish classes at a local college; the UK does a great job of adult education, it’s much more common here than in the US. I also looked into Rosetta Stone software, which many people rave about. (UPDATE: Note Dawn's lengthy comment about Rosetta Stone, perhaps I might try a 30-day trial?)

The technology to learn languages is always changing. Recently, the New York Times ran an interesting story about the web bringing native speakers together to improve language skills. I even looked into other alternatives to get myself some Swedish exposure.

After a lot of investigation, however, it doesn’t seem practical for me to study Swedish, at least for now. With my daily life in London, I wouldn’t be able to practice in any significant way. And without that daily exposure, it’s not realistic to think I could master another language.

If and when the time comes that we spend significant time on Aspö, then I think I could make a good effort in learning the language. But for now, living in the most Anglophone country of all, and without regular contact with Swedish, it doesn’t seem possible. I’ll just have to get used to my guilty feelings when everyone switches to English for my benefit!


Dawn said...

Don, I have the Rosetta Stone software for Thai. I really like it a lot. The good thing about it is you speak into a microphone so you have to say it right (or pretty close to) or it doesn't recognise the word. It also concentrates on conversational speech-- which is what I wanted. Now, can I speak Thai? in a word- no. I know some phrases and some words. I can get food and find the toilet. I apparently know a good deal of cuss words as I found out when some guy was picking a fight with me because he thought I was taking a picture of his black market DVDs. Thai not only has a male/female version but it is also very tonal. One word can have 5 different meanings depending on how low or high you say it. And Thai people always laugh at me because I have a deep voice-- which no Thai woman does. Another factor is that Thais love to practice their English so no matter how I try in Thai they answer in English. I believe the Rosetta stone has a 30 day trail period. It might be worth a try just to get some key words under your belt. It has some games you play which at first glance I thought was kind of hooky but they really work in the end.

Marcia said...

It's good that you are aware of your shortcomings ;-). On the other hand your knowledge and use of the English language is better than all of us put together!!!