July 05, 2016
One of the first questions expats ask me is, “why learn Swedish?“. One of the best, and worst, things about coming to Sweden as an expat, is that most Swedes speak good English. Great, because you do not need to speak the local language to get around, or even to get a job. Bad, because this will not be too good for your motivation to learn Swedish.
As a teacher of Swedish as a foreign language though, I have learnt that it is really important for you to start learning Swedish as soon as possible and we’ve written a guide on how to learn Swedish before.
Joining a language course is a great way of getting to know other expats. This network will be of great use when you feel like making new friends, or finding a new job. It is also good to speak to someone in your own situation if you are feeling homesick or frustrated with your new country. Likewise, if your workplace offers in-house language training, it is actually an excellent team-work exercise and an opportunity to get to know your colleagues in a different setting.
Making friends with Swedes can sometimes be difficult, and will always take a long time. It will be much easier and faster if you speak our language, as they will not have to make the effort of speaking English when hanging out with you.
Also with only a basic understanding of Swedish, you will understand Swedes speaking English much better. Yes, we do speak good English, but it is far from perfect, and there might be misunderstandings, often based on direct translation between two seemingly similar languages.
In the long-term, you will feel much more familiar with your environment, and when culture shock sets in, knowing a bit of the language will definitely help. You will not be a stranger in your own city. There are many more activities to choose from if you speak the local language which is a great reason to learn Swedish.
Another reason why you should learn Swedish is that you will feel much more confident when taking big steps in your life, say, getting a mortgage for buying your new flat, meeting your future in-laws for the first time, introducing yourself at a new workplace.
Having a good knowledge of Swedish is definitely a plus for your CV, and makes you more attractive on the job market. A huge competitive advantage compared to huge number of expats that are too lazy to take courses.
Understanding the local language means you can participate in many more events related to your field of work, and you are able to read and understand media within your sector. You will be able to network much more effectively, and will not feel excluded from groups of Swedish speakers. This in turn, means you are much more likely to be successful in your career.
Somehow related to the above. You never know what your life or work situation will look like in a few years, but things can change fast. Unexpectedly, you might find yourself in a situation where it is necessary to know Swedish. Learning a language takes time. Start now.
You probably know now why you need to learn Swedish. Learning a language is a huge commitment, requires effort, time and money. But like most things, start small, make a habit out of it, and be amazed at how it pays off in the long run.
A little about Sofi
Sofi has helped internationals to communicate effectively in Swedish and with Swedes, since 2008, in Sweden and the UK. Originally trained as an architect, Sofi has developed a way of thinking that is analytical and critical at the same time as being creative and playful.
Photo Credits: Ulf Lundin/imagebank.sweden.se
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