February 18, 2019

Langjam: Studying Swedish When You Only Have Four Days

general language learning Language Challenges Swedish


Hej allihopa! This weekend I participated in Sandra Schellhase’s Language Jam social media challenge, in which participants have four days to study a language which they are randomly assigned. I was so happy to get Swedish! I’ve always been a bit of a Scandinavia-phile, and some of my family lives in Sweden too, but I always felt guilty about spending time on Swedish when I should be improving the languages I’ve already started.

Enter LangJam!

Langjam fell on a particularly busy weekend, but I managed to squeeze in two italki lessons (one at 6:30 in the morning ?) and a few other study sessions. As usual, I relied on my monologue method to practice pronunciation: I wrote an introductory monologue with my tutor, had my tutor record it, then listened to it over and over throughout the weekend whenever I was doing chores or working out. This helped me so much with the prosody of Swedish (the musicality of the language at the sentence level) and was a good start to working on those crazy vowels!


I used two different Swedish italki tutors, for availability reasons. By the way, if you want to try out italki for the first time, you can use my discount code here for $10 off your first lesson! And I’ll get $10 off a lesson too, so thanks in advance for fueling my obsession!

Italki has Community Tutors (cheaper, the student guides the lesson) and Professional Tutors (more expensive, but these teachers are professionally trained and can prepare lesson plans). My first lesson was with a Professional Tutor, we spent an hour going over the alphabet (Swedish uses the Roman alphabet, but many of the letters represent sounds that are very different than those we use in English) and practicing pronunciation. We briefly touched on a bit of grammar so that I could put together basic sentences.

My second lesson was for just 30 minutes with a Community Tutor, who I asked to correct my pronunciation as I practiced my monologue. She did a great job catching my worst habits and showing me techniques to improve my vowels.


I had heard about Swedish’s notoriously difficult vowels, pitch accents, and prosody, so I knew I’d want to start off by listening to Glossika’s curated sentences, just to get the sounds of Swedish in my head. I loaded Glossika on my phone’s browser, set it to A1 level, and just started listening to sentences. I occasionally tried to repeat them, but it quickly became clear to me that I would need an italki tutor to set me straight before I could really try to pronounce anything!

Try out Glossika here.


I didn’t have much time to waste, so SwedishPod101 was a very useful resource to have. I downloaded the lessons on to my phone, and listened to three lessons while I was getting a manicure. I find their app (the app is called Innovative Languages) to be particularly useful, since I’m much more likely to cram in studying during random pockets of time than when I’m at my computer. With SwedishPod I was introduced to some grammar rules and some set phrases I could use for basic conversations.

Try out SwedishPod101 here.


This is my other go-to for making use of small pockets of time – I really love listening to Pimsleur while I’m going for long walks, because the walk keeps my attention stimulated at just the right level so that I can focus on the audio. If I try to do Pimsleur sitting at my desk, I get too distracted and stop paying attention.

For the same reasons, I also love listening to Pimsleur while folding laundry, tidying up, or doing other household tasks (I use these amazing wireless headphones so that I can wander around the house and not have to be super close to my phone)

Try out Pimsleur here.


This app is my favorite for getting started with new languages – it actually teaches you the sentences you will need as a beginner, whereas Duolingo has you talking about how the cat is drinking wine in the castle and all kinds of useless phrases like that.

Try out Mondly here.


I love the interface of this app, although as a beginner, it seems hard to find the words that I really need to get started speaking (words and phrases like good, bad, can you repeat that, really, etc.) The app seems better suited to intermediate learners who need more specific lifestyle vocabulary, for example colors and sports.

To try out Drops, download the app from Google Play or the App Store.


Are you studying Swedish? Let me know what you think of these resources, or what works best for you in the comments below!

You can follow along with my language progress on Instagram at @misslingdiary or on YouTube here.




This post includes affiliate links, but I only post links to resources and tools that I have used myself and can confidently recommend. When you use these links, you help to support this blog, so, tack så mycket!

Check Also

studying a minority language with a Swadesh List

Learn Like a Linguist: Using Swadesh Lists for Rare or Minority Languages

  The United Nations has declared 2019 the Year of Indigenous Languages. I know a …