Did you know the moon is actually made of ice cream? At least in this Swedish story about Krakel Spektakel by Lennart Hellsing; Glassmånen (the ice cream moon). Listen to this 5 minute tale to practice understanding Swedish. If you are a beginner don’t worry about understanding or not; simply listen to the rhythm of the language as well as the stress and intonation of it (the prosody). This will help you get acquainted with the Swedish language.
Practice listening to Swedish!
glass = ice cream
en måne = a moon
ett moln = a cloud
note: måndag means Monday. However in this text the author is playing with words and måndag in the story refers to “moonday” – the day of the Moon. Pronunciation is different from the day of the week “måndag”. Listen to pronunciation here.
If you are learning Swedish a dictionary is a must. Online or as a book. However I suggest that you also try to get used to a thesaurus. The thesaurus will provide “explanations” by listing a few synonyms in – in this case – Swedish. Sometimes you will find antonyms too. No translations; immersion in Swedish language; a great way to expand the vocabulary.
If you know Swedish already you need one too :). We are never fully educated.
You can use Svenska Akademiens Ordlista – the link takes you to its online Swedish thesaurus. It also comes as a book, of course. With the help of this Swedish thesaurus you also conveniently check spelling, whether it is “en” or “ett“, conjugations of verbs, inflection and declension. And here is the good news – it comes as an app. A free one. Gratis! (means “free”) Grattis! (means “congratulations”). Links at bottom of post. It is far more lighter to carry around in your pocket than the real thing. Promise.
Thinking about taking a Swedish class? Don’t worry if you haven’t yet mastered such delicate planning skills as presented in the photo below. There is still time to sign up for individual Swedish classes, via Skype. Just drop me an email at email@example.com
New year, new challenges – new Swedish lessons via Skype?
New year, new challenges! Some people plan way ahead, some don’t. Perhaps this is the year you are going to treat yourself to learning something new, or to kick things up a notch when it comes to something you have basic knowledge in. There is just something so fulfilling to acquiring new knowledge. It can be small or it can be big, but it usually opens up new doors and worlds!
I for one have signed up for tennis lessons starting this week. Yes I can play tennis, but I want to get better at it, and to have more fun playing it. I am looking forward to have a personal trainer to surprise me with exercises I never would have thought of on my own; to provide tips and tricks to make learning and playing fun; to challenge and correct me, and to suggest enhancements and areas of improvement. Not to mention just the actual playing! I am sure this will raise my confidence when playing with others, and also make it happen on a frequent basis!
What about your Swedish language? Are you currently learning or hoping to start soon? Do you have a plan for the first half of 2014 set up already? Perhaps you are already in a program but don’t really feel you are learning the right things. Speaking – or using the language – for instance. Look again at the paragraph above describing my tennis lessons. Now think of it as a private Swedish language class, via Skype! This is what I am providing! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to know more. You can also read on here – Swedish lessons via Skype
You have probably heard of Lucia; the Queen of Light who brightens the dark morning of December 13 in Sweden. Even if the 13th this year coincides with a Friday, “dark” refers only to the lack of light.
In short the Lucia tradition consists of a procession with a Lucia up front, followed by handmaidens (tärnor), star boys (stjärngossar), brownies and elves (pepparkaksgubbar och tomtenissar). All but the brownies and elves wear white gowns. Lucia wears a light crown/wreath whereas the handmaidens each carry a candle. Lights are normally battery operated. There is beautiful singing. Either it really is, or you are a parent. These Lucia processions can be enjoyed at every preschool and school, and sometimes even at workplaces. Most towns have an official Lucia procession visiting hospitals and elderly, malls and libraries. There is also a national broadcast.
Lucia behind the scenes
Being an “outsider” to this enchanting Swedish tradition, what you may not have heard of are the small battles leading up to this event.
There is only supposed to be ONE Lucia in the procession. During the early years of school exceptions may be allowed but sooner or later the process of electing only ONE Lucia is introduced. How unfair. At least these days not only girls with long blond hair are chosen. Sweden wants to pride itself for diversity, but when it comes to boys being Lucia you can tell that traditions are not so easily rocked.
Teachers struggle to persuade at least SOMEONE to be a star boy (stjärngosse). There are traditional songs to be sung about the star boy Staffan so at least one is a must. This category does not seem to be popular any more. Because of the cone shaped paper hat? The annoying elastic ribbon – making sure it stays during the procession – does not exactly help.
Red ribbon or glitter for handmaidens (tärnor)? Lucia wears a red ribbon around her waist. Handmaidens, if anything around the waist, are meant to wear glitter – same as in their hair. Opinions seem to differ though, and the discussion is to be continued. Somehow official handmaidens tend to break the rules more often. You can also catch them wearing lingonberry sprigs instead of glitter. Not around the waist though.
Batteries for handheld lights and wreath run out last minute. Does not matter how many times you checked and exchanged them for new ones. Murphy’s law.
“Tärnljus” (the handheld lights of the handmaidens) resemble something out of Star Wars, and are hence used for light sword fights while kids are getting ready to enter the stage. How many lights will be broken this year? Easy to spot the guilty ones in the procession.
Ironing long white gowns last minute. Not only must we find last year’s, try them on, buy new ones and hand the old ones down. Did you know how long it took me to iron the one I wore at 8 months of pregnancy? Yes, I was an expat at the time – you know it; homeland traditions tend to become very important once you are not actually living in your passport country. Actually, it was peer pressure. I don’t personally partake in Lucia processions in Sweden. It is for children and teens unless you are a member of a choir.
Oh the decision of which of the children’s Lucia procession you need to opt out of since they tend to be held at the same time. This year all “our” teachers were being pro-active enough not to schedule the celebrations on the actual date itself. Since they all had the same idea it failed
When all is settled (well, as good as it gets) you still miss most of it since there aren’t really any chances of clear visibility of the procession and your little ones. Grandparents, relatives and friends who have managed to arrive an hour earlier (since they were not on ironing or baking duty) make sure of that. If you are lucky you might catch a glimpse or two though on one of the iphone screens held up in the air.
Not to mention when real candles are used. Hair burning, candles needing to be relit – you get it.
What can I say; I love traditions. I am so glad that we have Lucia!
Now I just need to schedule the baking of the saffron buns I was appointed to do for 80 parents, grandparents and kids celebrating in one of my children’s classes. Right; the celebration which I will only attend for a short while – remember the double booking?
December 9 is apparently Gingerbread Day in Sweden. As I’ve said before – keeping track of all days in Sweden dedicated to Swedish pastries, cakes and cookies is probably a full time job. At least if you’re supposed to keep up with the baking yourself. Luckily there are bakeries and supermarkets more than eager to profit from these appointed days. In fact, they are part of the industry coming up with the days in the first place.
Well, I must say I thought all days in December were Gingerbread Days. At least when it comes to eating them.
essential vocabulary of the day:
en pepparkaka – a gingerbread biscuit
med kristyr – with icing (icing that hardens)
utan – without
even more essential:
många pepparkakor – lots of gingerbread biscuits
mums – yum, yummy
Photo shows result from multicultural gingerbread project last year. Kids and moms in my international network had fun while decorating for local exhibition at the library.
The Swedish TV show “Så mycket bättre” (So much better) gathers Swedish musicians/artists and have them interpreting each other’s songs. The most interesting combinations usually occur when artists of totally different genres and musical eras are mixed.
Here is an example; rap artist Ken Ring remakes iconic Lill Lindfors. Swedish music, in Swedish.
Check the lyrics via Tunewiki.
“slå klackarna i taket” in Swedish means to have fun, to party.
Did you know that September the 26th is European Day of Languages?
To celebrate I am giving away one set of 2 Swedish Conversation Classes via Skype!
Learning another language is an excellent way to achieve a greater understanding of cultures that are not yet (fully) familiar to us. So, we do not only understand each other better in terms of the languages we are speaking but also because we develop our cultural competence. The Council of Europe wants to promote multilingualism, and on its initiative the European Day of Languages are celebrated on Sept 26th every year.
What about the giveaway?
A Swedish Conversation Class is perfect for you who might know at least a little bit of Swedish/have studied Swedish 😉 but are not really used to speaking the language. It also suits you if you do speak some Swedish but want to work on vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar and fluency.
All you need to do to enter the giveaway for a chance to win Swedish Conversation Classes is to
leave a comment below telling me the best parts of learning Swedish via Skype. Don’t forget to leave your contact info
One winner will be selected, at random. If you are the winner you will be contacted via the information you have provided in the comments (e-mail, Twitter, Facebook etc.). Together we will then schedule the lessons, which must have been taken by end of Nov 2013.
Learning a language it is beneficial to listen to and sing along to music in that language. You learn new words but more importantly you get a sense of the rhythm and intonation of the language, as well as learning pronunciation.
Below is a link to a popular summer song in Swedish, by Tomas Ledin. It is called “Sommaren är kort” – summer is short.