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Teach Yourself Swedish

Teach Yourself Swedish
I'm a computer programmer and therefore spend a good deal of my time working with pretty technical stuff. To put my brain in a slightly different gear, I decided to try and learn a new language. I took four years of Spanish in middle and high school, so, though I am by no means fluent in that, I decided to go in a little different direction and see how I'd do with Swedish. While it may not be the most useful language to learn, my great-grandparents were from Sweden and my grandfather can speak it a bit; it seemed like a good way to get in touch with my roots.

My first course of action was to head over to Amazon.com to see which books looked promising. In addition to a Swedish-English dictionary and a Swedish grammar guide, I purchased Teach Yourself Swedish by Vera Croghan. The book and its accompanying CDs follow a Swedish-speaking English family on their trip to Sweden to visit the family of an exchange student they had housed in England.

Each chapter starts off with a dialog that is both printed in the book and found on the CDs. Following that is a mini-glossary of all of the new Swedish words that were in the passage. Several other dialogs and definition lists are found throughout each chapter, but not all are recorded on the CDs. In addition to the dialogs, each chapter has a grammar section. For example, the first chapter handles singular nouns, personal pronouns, basic sentence structure and the present tense of common verbs. Later chapters introduce plural forms of nouns, past tense of verbs, questions, and so on. Every chapter ends with a passage about some cultural aspect to Sweden written in Swedish.

The audio CDs that accompany the book are what I find to be the most helpful part of the package. I copied them on to my iPod and listen to them while reading along in the text during my morning train commutes. Doing so has given me a much better handle on the sounds of spoken Swedish, such that I can listen to Sverige Radio and pick out some of the words that I know and get a general gist of the conversations. I still need to spend some time with the grammar portions, however, since I can't yet sit down and write much in Swedish without sounding like a six-year-old.

Teach Yourself Swedish has definitely given me a nice start towards my goal of speaking fluent Swedish. With the addition of some other reference materials and just reading and listening to Swedish media, it's just a matter of time until I can go pick up a new Volvo in Göteborg.

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