Studying Tips

by Erik Wilhelm Gren


Vocabulary, vocabulary, vocabulary… It’s inevitable isn’t it? I mean, if you want to learn a language, you will need to know the words of the language and their meanings, right? While this is true, just “learning” word after word by their own is extremely inefficient, but don’t worry. There is a better way.

Flashcards, Card Apps and Card Decks

A card deck is a set of flashcards whose one side has a sentence/word/concept you want to learn, and whose other side has its explanation or translation. There are many ways to create these word decks, but my recommendation would be to use a digital one, such as Anki, so that wherever you go, you can study your flashcards from your mobile.

You can, of course, also have a lot of fun creating these manually, and, for some, the process might be both creative, educative and inspiring. See a very basic example here.

Creating Efficient Cards

I would say that an efficient card is one containing multiple words, is easy to understand and contains at least one complete grammatical sentence. By having cards like these, you assure to learn real language by putting the words in context. For example, instead of a list like this one:



Röd / Rött




You should try to write something along the lines of:

Jag åt ett rött äpple och en röd jordgubbe.

I ate a red apple and a red strawberry.

Did you notice the difference? In the second one, you learnt that:

  1. Röd and Rött means red.
  2. äpple means apple and is a t-ord.
  3. jordgubbe means strawberry and is a n-ord.
  4. åt is a form of to eat in the past tense ate.
  5. jag means I.

And all of this in just one single card with one sentence! If you were to learn this sentence, you will begin to instinctively classify all the words in realistic grammatical contexts and learn much more efficiently.

The Creation of an Efficient Card

Let’s look at an example. If you were to study the word for blue in Swedish, the process for creating an efficient card would look something like this:

  1. Search for “blue in Swedish”[1] and find its translation: blå

  2. Find its two forms: n-ord, blå. t-ord, blått.

  3. Come up with two nouns where one is a n-ord and the other is a t-ord:

    En båt och ett hav.

    A boat and a ocean.

  4. Put in the adjective:

    En blå båt och ett blått hav.

    A blue boat and a blue ocean.

  5. The above is already much better than just the single word alone, and some would argue that this is already a good card. But optionally, you can create a sentence from what you’ve already got:

    En blå båt seglar på ett blått hav.

    A blue boat sails on a blue ocean.

  6. Finally, highlight what you’re trying to learn

    En blå båt seglar på ett blått hav.

    A blue boat sails on a blue ocean.

A Note about Nouns

As I mentioned in the introduction to nouns’s section about studying, it is really important to always learn a new noun’s grammatical gender[2]. That is, wether the noun in question is a n-ord or a t-ord.

In practice, this means that instead of writing just a word and its English counterpart:



You should instead always at least include its indefinite particle to show the noun’s grammatical gender:

Ett träd

A tree

and of course, some sentence to go along with it:

Jag klättrade i ett träd.

I was climbing in a tree.

A Note about Adjectives

A big part of Swedish grammar revolves around the concept of n-ord and t-ord. Whenever you put an adjective in front of a noun you have to conjugate the adjective into the corresponding form.

Therefore, whenever you learn a new adjective, always try to learn both of its forms. You will thank yourself for doing the little extra effort in the future.

Listening and Reading Comprehension

There are tons of resources to find listening and reading material in Swedish, but it’s important to consume these efficiently to maximize intake! There are different methods that focus on different things and it is important that you play around with different ones to find the method that suits you best.

Here are some methods that I’ve found efficient for me:

Method #1

This is the don’t move on until you’ve understood everything method. This method is not a very joyful way to experience Swedish, but I have found it to, sometimes, be very efficient in terms of learning new words. It works like this:

  1. Pick a material, any text or audio in Swedish.
  2. Start from the beginning.
  3. As soon as you discover a new word that you’ve a) never heard of or b) don’t understand / remember, do as follows:
    1. Write the word down on a note.
    2. Find it’s meaning.
    3. Look at some of its different forms and conjugations.
    4. Optionally, create a flashcard for this word.
    5. Move on.
  4. Continue on to the next word and repeat step 3.
  5. Finally, when you’re done reading and feel like you should stop soon, go through your notes and see if you remember the new words. Maybe, peek at the beginning of the text again and see if you understand it better now. If you do, be proud of yourself and get some well-deserved rest.

This method can be very tedious. However, if done correctly, it’s a great way to expand your flashcard decks quickly!

Method #2

This method is the complete opposite of Method #1. This is the don’t mind if you don’t understand, just move on method. It goes something like this:

  1. Pick a material, any text or audio in Swedish.
  2. Start from the beginning.
  3. Read the text (aloud, if you feel like it) or just listen to the audio you’ve chosen.
  4. Try your best at understanding, but if you don’t, that’s completely fine!
  5. Only when you find something that’s extra interesting, try to understand just that part and, when you do (or don’t!) move on.
  6. Reach the end!

This method is best suited for you to get a better feel of Swedish. To learn its structure, what words fall where in the sentences and a method to put all these grammatical structures in your subconscious. I’ve found that many of us understand a lot more than we think we do, even if we only know a tiny bit of what’s being consumed.

It’s All About You!

There are many ways to study and it is good to once in a while question your methods. However, in reality, it almost always come down to wether you want to learn and actually dedicate time to it.

I found myself worrying many times when I was studying wether I was actually learning or not. My response to this was to immediately question my methods and whatnot. In reality, I just didn’t dedicate the time. There was nothing wrong with my already established methods, I just didn’t follow them which, in the end, will break any method of learning.

So, to stay motivated, have a clear goal or many clear goals with your learning! For example: I want to be able to order a coffee by myself in Swedish. Or: I want to have conversations with Swedish people and talk to them about things. Or maybe even: One day, I want ot move to Sweden and I want to become native in Swedish.

Think if you have such a goal to keep you motivated and, if you do, great! If you don’t, then sit for a while and think of why you want to learn Swedish and a goal will not be too far away. I promise!

Pro tip: On the home page there is always a section where I post some inspirational or motivational stuff once in a while. I can be a cool fact about Sweden, a funny word, a funny or interesting video and much much more. So do check it out once in a while if you feel like it. Otherwise, if you already feel motivated, go on to a new article an learn something new!

  1. See my article about free online resources for how to do this and find correct translations and conjugations from official sources

  2. Please read the An Introduction to Nouns if you haven't already.

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