Swedish is a beautiful language, and it’s the most practical of all the Scandinavian languages. Before embarking on your journey to learn Swedish, you’ll want to have an idea of how long it takes to reach your destination.
Swedish takes 575-600 hours to learn. That’s a little over one year for regular students. Dedicated learners can reach fluency in under six months. Swedish shares many grammatical features and vocabulary with English, making it easy to learn for most native English speakers.
Swedish can appear more difficult than it actually is. Of course, it all depends on how consistent you are and if you’re using the right methods. But because of its closeness with English, Swedish makes for an excellent choice for first-time second language learners.
Why Learning Swedish Is Easier Than You Think
It’s difficult to determine how much time a given person will need to learn a language. It’s entirely dependent on their disposition, native language, and whether they’ve learned second languages before. Age can also play a factor.
Let’s suppose that you’ll stick to a consistent schedule and practice several hours a week, uninterrupted. In that case, then there’s no better guide than the Foreign Service Institute difficulty rankings.
The FSI ranking determines approximately how many hours an English speaker will need to reach fluency in a given language. Most major languages are divided into five groups of increasing difficulty.
In this ranking, Swedish sits in the first group —the one with the easiest languages to learn. According to the FSI, learning Swedish would take 575-600 hours or 23-24 weeks.
If you were to study Swedish for two hours five days a week, you’d be a fluent speaker in a little over a year. That’s already fast, but if you’re in a hurry and have time to spare, you could be done in under six months.
Is Swedish Difficult?
Swedish is an easy language to learn for English speakers. Both English and Swedish are Germanic languages. They share many grammatical features and much of their vocabulary.
Swedish is placed among the easiest languages to learn for an English speaker by the FSI. That doesn’t mean Swedish doesn’t pose any challenges, but English speakers will find many helpful similarities to their native tongue. These are:
- Writing and spelling. Swedish and English use almost the same version of the Latin alphabet. The only difference is that Swedish adds å, ä, and ö.
- Pronunciation. Swedish has 18 vowels – nine short and nine long. However, English doesn’t lag behind at 14. Most vowels have English counterparts and shouldn’t prove a challenge to fluent English speakers.
- Verbs. Conjugation is the hardest part of many languages, but not for Swedish. Just like English, Swedish doesn’t conjugate based on person or number. It does have a few extra tenses, though.
- Vocabulary. English and Swedish have a high degree of lexical similarity, which means that many Swedish words sound very similar to their English translations. This makes learning vocabulary that much easier.
Final Thoughts: Learning Swedish the Right Way
Now you know that you can reach fluency in Swedish much sooner than you thought, provided that you use effective methods. If you’re not sure how to go about it, keep these in mind:
- Learn vocabulary before delving into grammatical details.
- Expose yourself to written and spoken Swedish and try to understand it.
- Focus on producing written and spoken Swedish messages, even if they’re simple.
- Have someone that can give you feedback on your mistakes, like a language teacher.