Learning Swedish

Learning Swedish poses some interesting challenges for a native English speaker. Swedish grammar is not difficult, and in many ways is similar to English. The difficulty in learning Swedish for native English speakers is pronunciation. Swedish has a number of subtle sounds and vowels that give English speakers a little trouble. In addition, Swedish is a tone language - words are pronounced with a specific rising or falling pitch. The Swedish tones are not as radical as in Chinese, but they are subject to many variations depending on word order, placement in the sentence and emphasis or stress. Learning Swedish tones is best done by listening to native speakers and imitating them.

Like its cousin languages Danish and Norwegian, Swedish has few commercial language learning products available for those native English speakers who want to learn the language. Some of the more widely known companies don't produce anything, others produce only limited, or less comprehensive products. Your best bet for self-study may be to get two or more complementary products, which I usually recommend anyway. Before you begin, check the How to Learn Languages page and the Learning Tips page to help put together a comprehensive lesson plan for yourself. Here are some of the best products available for learning Swedish :

Internet/Free FSI Language Courses
This site has a Swedish course available for free download. It's a little out-of-date (like many of the FSI programs) but for free it's a great resource. The method is excellent and quite comprehensive.

Internet/Free Another great way to begin learning Swedish for free is with the Byki Lite vocabulary trainer program from Transparent Language. Get your Free BYKI™ Lite download by Transparent Language

Book/Audio Combo
Teach Yourself Swedish
The longstanding Teach Yourself series has always had a wide variety of languages. Thankfully, they have a course for Swedish, unlike many other publishers. The coursebook comes with two audio cd's and is readily available.

Book Teach Yourself Swedish (old version).
A great grammar based book is the old version of Teach Yourself Swedish written by R. J. McLean. Published by David McKay Company or English Universities Press in the 50's, 60' and 70's, these old Teach Yourself books are great grammar-intensive workouts with lots of little exercises. They are out of print but can be found in used bookstores or online at ABE Books.com , a great online book exchange of booksellers around the world.

Audio Only
Pimsleur Swedish Compact
As far as ease of use and quality of the material and method, Pimsleur is excellent. You learn to speak Swedish in a natural and comfortable way. However, Pimsleur Compact Swedish is too short to stand on its own as a language learning method. It is only 10 lessons long - not long enough to really take advantage of the excellent Pimsleur method. Compact makes a very good introduction to Swedish or a good audio supplement for its conversation and pronunciation work, but a more comprehensive method is needed to go beyond the first steps in the language. Read my more indepth Review of Pimsleur Swedish and my more general Review of the Pimsleur Method.


Transparent Language publishes a very good resource for learning Swedish. There is a great deal of content. Lots of vocabulary, dialogues, native speaker audio, video, games and lots of extras to help you round-out your learning regimen. It can even be synched with BYKI, and it has a six month guarantee.

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"Man acts as though he were the shaper and master of language, while in fact language remains the master of man."

- Martin Heidegger

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