Wednesday, January 29, 2014

current state of the swedish learning endeavor

In the last month it seems like something is finally starting to click for me with learning Swedish.

I spent a frustrating year listening to Swedish conversations at lunchtime without ever understanding. I don't think I would have been frustrated if it hadn't been for people saying things like "oh if you just listen to conversations you start to pick things up," which never actually happened for me. Unless you count hearing and understanding words like "maybe" or "usually" or "three hundred"… in that case, then yes, I could pick things up, just nothing useful.

Dance classes were usually better because I had a base knowledge of the dances already, and then most verbal instructions are accompanied by a demonstration. This was the only time I could start to understand the big picture, even without being able to understand the majority of the individual words.

But now things are starting to change. Now I'm starting to really notice that I am understanding more and more. Most conversations are still too fast, but I am at a point where it feels like I'll be able to understand in the not-too-distant future. I no longer feel completely overwhelmed by how far I have to go, but more excited to see that actual progress has been made.

I also think I have reached the base level where now I actually will be able to learn things just from listening to conversation. I've also been reading about the course levels and trying to figure out what that will mean. I have high hopes that by the end of summer I'll be able to understand conversations at normal speed, and also be able to speak about most things in simple language.

For now I just need to focus on taking the small steps to make this happen. Study vocabulary. Go to swedish class. Listen and try to understand conversations. Try to talk to people in Swedish.

I also need to keep celebrating small achievements. I really dislike studying vocabulary, but today this amazing thing happened to remind me that spending time studying is worthwhile. Someone said something funny in Swedish and I laughed! I didn't have to wait until someone translated and then laugh the delayed laugh. Such an accomplishment!

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