Winter is upon us, according to the calendar. Yes, we have seen some snow in the Western part of south Sweden; enough to have had the chance to enjoy some beautiful days in the sleigh slope. The ice skates and the cross-country skis are still waiting to have their fun though. But even if there is no winter in sight right now we all know it – it will come back when you least expect it. That’s Swedish winter for you.
The song “Vintersaga” (Winter´s Tale) describes a wintry Sweden – in all the senses of the word. Even if we don´t always have snow it can be dark, windy and cold. The song captures all this, and the melancholy that it leaves behind, but also the beauty and the images of an ordinary Sweden on an ordinary day. The song was written by Ted Ström in 1984. My favorite version of it is sung by Monica Törnell, and was recorded the same year. You’ll find a link to it on Spotify below.
Enjoy the 80’s!
It is fun to learn a language. However repeating vocabulary is not always all that fun. I love to come up with creative ways to inspire learning Swedish (or any language). Today I instructed my young students to keep a word cloud application open during our Skype lesson in Swedish. We spoke about toys and playing, and tried to come up with all possible nouns for toys (we also used a toy store catalogue for the visual). The two students took turns to type the words in Swedish, making sure spelling was correct. Typing/writing helps in remembering and learning the words. After the lesson they will print the cloud in a few copies and go through all the words again; looking up any word they cannot remember the meaning of. They will also circle words that take “en” on one sheet, and “ett”-words on another. One copy goes up on the wall as today’s achievement!
Remember that repeating is key.
We used Tagxedo for today’s “Learn words in Swedish”. I have used a few other similar applications as well. If you search for “word cloud” you will get suggestions enough!
We had to leave out all the words with the Swedish letters ÅÄÖ; they were not supported by this application.
Here they are:
Want to read something besides Aftonbladet? I found a link to Swedish Newspapers on line. “Click” to find your favorite.
The webpage does not only list Swedish newspapers but newspapers worldwide.
Reading the news does not only help improving your language but also gives you a sense of belonging; whether you are new to Sweden, a Swede living abroad or just interested in Sweden. You know what is going on and can join the conversations.
Personally I have a thing for local news, no matter which country I live in. It is also an excellent way to stay updated on what is going on on the cultural scene – museums, exhibitions, theaters, markets and other happenings in your area.
Have you found a favorite newspaper?
The Swedish expression “mellan hägg och syren” really says it all.
I love this time of the year. Late spring (which came early this year) that promises a long, beautiful summer with endless time outdoors. The green shades are soft and crisp; the white blossoms are abundant and simply breathtaking, and sometimes the white petals fall graciously through the air like soft snow.
It is the time “between Bird Cherry and Lilac” – “mellan hägg och syren”. The expression is said to originate from a cobbler’s sign saying he was closed “mellan hägg och syren”.
The Bird Cherry is in full bloom (depending on where in Sweden you are) and we are awaiting the Lilacs. Both add a wonderful scent to the gardens and the neighborhood.
Another word describing this time of the year is “försommar” – “pre-summer” 🙂
Valborg (Walpurgis) is celebrated throughout Sweden yet in varying forms. To me Valborg is a celebration of springtime. I also associate it with University students; Chalmers, Lund, Uppsala and their own special festivities. Many a choir is welcoming the spring by singing spring songs. In many parts of Sweden large bonfires play a big role on Valborgsmässoafton (Walpurgis Night).
Read more about Valborg (Walpurgis) and the Swedish traditions here – in Swedish
Watch and listen to Håkan Hellström’s beautiful song Valborg.
About Sweden; well what about it? Want to know a few Swedish essentials? Or are you looking for a list to explain Sweden to your friends abroad? Here it is; from fika to Allemansrätten and Idas sommarvisa – about Sweden
Video by Eductus.
From fika to Allemansrätten and Idas sommarvisa.
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.
A few pictures to illustrate how it operates.
Svenska Akademiens Ordlista iTunes
Svenska Akademiens Ordlista Google Play
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.
Are you familiar with the Swedish ABC? Well, perhaps not this one.
Check this alphabet out to learn – or smile knowingly – about Swedish pop culture. Equally interesting whether you are Swedish, new or seasoned expat in Sweden, or simply curious.
Radio Sweden has made a compilation of Swedish culture and language in their own ABC. Listen to it by clicking the link below.
Anything you want to add?
Here is a useful tip for encouraging your child to speak in another language.
Sometimes children can be a little hesitant to speak a language which is not native to them. Well, there are some tricks to help them. For instance you can use hand puppets, teddy bears or dolls. Let them “do the talking”. This makes the children feel more confident since they use another voice – it is not “them” who is speaking.
Even if children happily speak a language bringing in another character is a fun way to stimulate and encourage a conversation.
Today I met with “Bob”. Boy, did he speak a lot, in Swedish!
If you are interested in individual Swedish language classes for children or adults read on.