Tag Archives: swedish

How to learn Swedish with todays available media.

Swedish is not the easiest language to learn, and to be honest I haven’t spent a lot of time studying the language over the past 11 months. Formula Student is coming to an end, meaning more time to do other stuff (no more sleepless nights or early morning shifts – YAY!). A new semester starts in less than a month *cries inside*, and new things are coming, so this time I enrolled to SFI (Svenska För Invandrare – or Swedish for immigrants) with the hope to improve my nonexistent language skills, and recently I got a group assigned starting on the 17th!

But, apart from taking classes…what other ways are useful to learn the language?

Look no further, here are a few life hacks to get yourself started into learning Swedish!

1. Watch your TV series/movies in Swedish.

A little background before I explain why this might be helpful. Upon my arrival, I started an intensive course, with the hopes to learn enough to have the casual fika conversation (I laugh at myself for being so naive), during those days my teacher suggested to watch TV in Swedish, but at that time I was living in a student dorm without access to any TV, and to be honest I had no time to look out for something online.

*fast forward*

At the beginning of the summer I moved in to a different place where a TV was available. One morning, I found myself with my flat mate watching a TV series with Swedish subtitles, soon enough I got used to “read” the subtitles and unconsciously connect the words with their English version! Not much of an improvement but it helped me to pick up some new words and get some examples of grammar structure.

My point here is: First of all, one does get familiar with the language and practice it while watching TV (especially if the program is in Swedish), as you can connect words with their translation, get used to grammar structure, and familiarize with the pronunciation. Secondly, it is something that you can do in your free time and it literally takes no effort.

Source: Pixabay.

2. Trying to figure the news.

As an international student, it’s rare to understand what is going on with the country you are living in, mainly because A) the newspaper is in Swedish naturally. B) most of the articles online are in Swedish as well.

In my attempt to read, I came across 8 SIDOR. A news portal that has an integrated “audio articles” (I don’t know how to say it in a better way) in all their posts. Although most of the times I don’t understand anything (this can be frustrating I know but just give it a try), I find it interesting to listen the way words are supposed to be pronounced and how are they spelled.

Source: Pixabay.

  1. Podcasts.

Honestly my knowledge in podcasts is limited. Before coming to Sweden the closest thing, I knew about podcasts was that there was an app in my phone, that was all. Today, after following  Edite’s podcast for a while now, I started listening to a few of them on my way to Chalmers whenever Spotify’s weekly recommendation wasn’t so good. This is how I came across to a few podcasts in Swedish that I listen to even though I don’t understand them most of the times.

The ones that I like are about topics that I’m familiar with, this helps me understand a little bit more about the context of the podcasts itself and at the same time I get to listen the pronunciation and “melody” of the language. There are hundreds of podcasts available in here.

Source: Pixabay.

So, now you know a few other ways to get started. Let me know if you guys have any other non-traditional method to learn Swedish!


Series “Lights, camera, action! – Brief history of the Swedish cinema” / Part 1: The outset

Some weeks ago I had the chance to write a post about the Göteborg Film Festival, meant for not only highlighting the main features of the event, but also as an expression of my passion regarding the cinematic world. I’ve decided to give more room to this passion, by combining it with my experience in Sweden; that’s why this piece is the first one of the series called “Lights, camera, action! – Brief history of the Swedish cinema”.

It’s been a while that I’ve wanted to get to know better the cinematic reality of this Scandinavian country. Of course I’ve heard about Ingmar Bergman – probably one of the most famous Swedish (and worldwide) filmmakers. What I ignored was that behind his name there is as well a huge legacy of filmmakers and actors that made Swedish cinema remarkably rich and well-known at an international level.

Greta Garbo, one of the first famous Swedish actresses, known worldwide. Source: www.cameralook.it

Over the course of the past two centuries, Sweden has gone through different phases of its history. As many countries between the end of the 19th and the outset of the 20th century, the overall economic and societal situation was mostly shaped by an agrarian perspective, strictly linked to the precepts of the Lutheran Protestantism. This was the context in which the first public projection took place, precisely in Malmö, in 1896. From that moment on, people working in the cinema industry would have played a fundamental role within the Swedish society.

Numa Wilhelm Peterson and Ernest Florman are the very first two names that we have to keep in mind when it comes to dealing with the dawn of the Swedish cinema. Both of them collaborated and gave birth to the first production, a collection of newsreels. But in 1897, Peterson, who was the owner of photographic supplier companies, produced “The Barber’s Shop in the Village”, made by Florman. Swedes were in front of the first-ever Swedish film drama. Other short films came up, among these the one called “Slagsmål i Gamla Stockholm (A Battle in Old Stockholm)”, a particular one because its aim was to recreate an old 17th century Stockholm setting; proper costumes were also used, by the way.

  Numa Peterson and Ernest Florman. Source: http://www.victorian-cinema.net

In less than ten years, a cinematic mania pervaded the entire country. Many towns started establishing their own cinemas. One of the outcomes was also the foundation of a film production company by a bookkeeper, Gustav Bjösrkman, and his boss Nils Hansson Nylander, in 1905. Starting being active from two years later, the AB Svensk Biografteatern was essential in giving the push to a new era of the Swedish cinema, renowned as “The golden age”.

Are you still there? I know, too many historical facts and names that you (probably) have never heard of before, but hey: this is how the fascinating process that led to Ingmar Bergman and other famous personalities began – and I hope I can convey that feeling to you, since along with the passion for cinema, I’m mixing the one regarding history, too. So, let’s not lose the thread, going towards the end of the first part of this series of pieces full of past memories, old cameras and black&white backgrounds.

Where were we? Yes, a new film production company was born. Apparently, they were missing one important member, one capable of managerial skills and creativity. Here came the moment of Charles Magnusson, another name to remember. Known for his ability to film important public events in Denmark and Sweden, he started building an image in the relative business. He owned a laboratory and some cinemas in Gothenburg, the city where he came from. In 1908, the choice of Svensk Biografteatern could not be other than signing Magnusson. That turned out to be a decisive moment for the new established industry.

Charles Magnusson. Source: Wikipedia

We’ll have the chance to talk a bit more about what Magnusson did in order to boost the film industry, and we’ll see that his management will prove to be extremely crucial to the development of what it was defined as the aforementioned “golden age” of the Swedish cinema.

Stay tuned for the second part of the series “Lights, camera, action!”. To be continued…


Featured image: “The Seventh Seal”, by Ingmar Bergman. Source: http://www.originalprop.com/blog/2009/09/28/chess-pieces-from-ingmar-bergmans-the-seventh-seal-sold-by-bukowskis-in-sweden-for-144000-today-2/

Main sources: http://www.academia.edu/5943663/A_short_history_of_Swedish_cinema, https://swedishfilmshollywoodremakes.wordpress.com/further-readings-2/sweden/swedish-cinema-the-silent-era/

SFI without a personal number!

I decided to study in Sweden for a number of reasons, one being the opportunity to begin to properly learn a language. As a typical Brit, I only speak English…despite having 5 years of French lessons during school.

Since moving to Stockholm I’ve been keen to have lessons and get talking the lingo. My svenska journey started back in September during introduction week when my university offered international students a free 3-day language course. At the end of the course I was super keen to continue to learn and felt the 3-days gave me and excellent basis to build upon. Our teacher explained to us about Swedish for Immigrants (SFI, svenska för invandare) and encouraged us that this was the best way to keep developing our skills.

SFI is the free course for anyone moving to Sweden to live, work or study. It is organised by the city council depending on where you are living, for me this is Stockholms stad. So I started researching how I could sign up…

I found the phrase I feared most:

“In order to study SFI, you must be registered in Stockholm City and you should have received your full national registration number.”

As a student on a 1-year course I don’t qualify for a personal number. The reoccurring theme in Sweden is that your need a personal number for EVERYTHING. I asked a few people about SFI and the personal number, everyone told me you definitely need one.


When you find out you need a personal number to do everything in this country.

I gave up the idea of SFI and went to some informal lessons with Language@KI taught by a medical student for 2 hours a week. Although these were great fun and helpful, I really needed some more hours per week to really get to grips of Swedish. I was also using Duolingo to supplement the lessons.

Anyway, a new year a new beginning. I will do more Swedish in 2016. My housemate also had the same New Years Resolution so we looked into SFI again.

A new phrase had appeared on the website:

“If you are an EU / EEA citizen or citizen of Switzerland you should have a right of residence (for work, studies) and be a resident in Stockholm. Bring your passport (to show citizenship).”

No personal number required!


When you find out you don’t need a personal number for everything in this country.

Whether this is a new exception or the rumours about the personal number and SFI were false for EU citizens, I’m not sure. BUT we visited SFI on Wednesday, passports in hand and registered successfully. CHECK!


  • You don’t need a personal number for SFI
  • If you don’t have a personal number – you need to be an EU citizen
  • A coordination number is also fine for registering
  • Bring your passport!
  • Congrats – can you now learn Swedish.

I start SFI on the 25th January with 3 of my friends doing 9 hours a week. It’s is going to be intense.

ENGLISH SUBTITLES, PLEASE! But the word is “China”

Jönköping Thoughts

I found language barriers within the Swedish industries and observed the trend of increasing Sino-Swedish business relationships.

The Elmia Subcontractor Fair was four days long. The Chalmers Formula Student team stood proudly next to our partner Lesjöfors. The types and sizes of springs Lesjöfors offers amazed me. Yet, just another small Swedish engineering company that packs a big punch in the automotive industry.


I was there for the last day of the marathon. So we walked around talking to suppliers, looking for partnership opportunities. It felt like speed dating. We practiced a procedure of “approaching sponsors”. I’m pretty sure somebody google’ed “how to approach girls”, copied the article and replaced the word “girls” with “companies”…us awkward engineers.

But since it was engineers talking to engineers, conversations went smoothly. People were enthusiasm towards their products and we were curiosity driven.

Except one guy. He talked to my colleague and I in English for a bit. Then all of a sudden, he switched to Swedish. Sh-woosh! Just like that! WahhBamm! And I stood there holding my smile, meanwhile my Swedish colleague continued with this “date”. Awkward… My Swedish colleague later tried to explain to me that some people are just more comfortable talking in their mother tongue. He could have at least said: “oh, my Engilsh bad”. Frankly I was a little annoyed at first. But after all, I’m in his country. I’m sorry for not speaking “Svenska”…


The take-home message here is the confirmation of language barrier that inevitably exists in Sweden. Majority of the people in big cities speak fluent English. But if you go to smaller towns or work in smaller businesses, only speaking English can be an issue.

On a different note, a large percentage of companies we talked to said they do their manufacturing in China. We observed many Sino-Swedish joint ventures at the fair. We also saw many Chinese companies there. I guess it’s also time to pick up some Chinese!


Engineering fair name tags. It just never looks as cool as the lawyers or the economists

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§ A little bit more about the fair:

The subcontractor fair is one of the leading supplier’s fair in Northern Europe, involving engineering and technological businesses all over Sweden.

Some Fast Facts: [Source: official webpage http://www.elmia.se/en/subcontractor]

  • Number of visitors: 14 705 (Chalmers has 10,000 students)
  • Number of exhibitors: 1 171 (that’s a lot of companies)
  • Exhibition area: 18 286 sq m (1 soccer field is 100×64 m2. So aprox. three soccer fields)
  • Participating nations: 31

Chalmers Formula Student team’s goal was:

  • Represent our sponsors: show casing the fruit of collaboration between CFS an our partners.
  • Increase awareness of the Formula Student project
  • Seek for more industry relations: delivering more “Engineers of tomorrow” (that’s our motto)