Learn Swedish

Villagers at Sjölunden have a unique opportunity to spend one, two or four weeks actively immersed in the Swedish language and culture. Upon arrival, you will show your passport, pass through Swedish "customs" and enter into a miniature, imitation Swedish village. The first order of business is selecting a new Swedish name and exchanging your dollars for svenska kronor. From there, you will proceed to your stuga (cabin) to meet your helpful, friendly counselors and your fellow villagers, before checking out the butik (store), snickerboa (art studio), båthus (boathouse) and matsal (dining hall), places you will soon know well.

And as you will soon find out, being a villager at Sjölunden isn’t about sitting in a classroom learning grammar and memorizing facts. It’s about actively living the Swedish language and culture. Before you know it, you'll be responding in Swedish without even realizing it.

Facts About Swedish

Swedish (svenska) is the national language of Sweden and one of two national languages of Finland. It, like Norwegian and Danish, is a descendant of Old Norse, the common language of the Germanic peoples living in Scandinavia during the time of the Vikings (AD 800-1066). What is now known as standard Swedish – the variety taught at Sjölunden -- evolved during the course of the 1800s, primarily from the dialect spoken in and around the capital city of Stockholm. Spoken Swedish is noted – especially by outsiders -- for its musical quality because of its distinctive tone or pitch accent. The Swedish alphabet consists of 29 letters, the 26 of the English alphabet, plus three additional vowels, å, ä and ö.  

Why Learn Swedish?

There are many reasons to learn Swedish! There are more than 10 million speakers of Swedish worldwide. Knowing Swedish helps you connect with Swedes living around the world, as well as with speakers of Norwegian and Danish.

1. Because you have a spirit of adventure.

Sweden is a wonderful travel destination for those who love clean air, spectacular landscapes and outdoor activities. As the biggest country of Northern Europe, there’s a lot to explore, from Stockholm in the south to Lapland in the north. And there’s no better way to get the most out of your travels than feeling comfortable with the language and culture.

2. Because you'd like to understand your roots.

Maybe your grandparents came from Sweden and speak better Swedish than English, or maybe your family’s immigrant experience is just a distant memory. Maybe you don’t have a drop of Swedish blood, but you feel connected to famous Swedes like Anders Celsius (inventor of the temperature scale) or Viktor Hasselblad (inventor of the single lens reflex camera) and want to understand them better. Whatever roots you’re exploring, the desire to understand the past is universal, and language is a powerful way to connect with both your personal heritage and your cultural and intellectual inheritance.

3. Because it's a fun language!

Swedish is full of great words for concepts that English doesn’t quite capture, like lagom (not too much and not too little), duktig (remarkably competent), and hen (an explicitly singular gender-neutral personal pronoun). It also has tons of compound words, like sköldpadda (turtle, literally shield + toad), tupplur (nap, literally rooster + trick), and smörgåsbord (feast, literally butter + goose + table).

4. Because it's a relatively easy language for English speakers to pick up, even if they've never learned another language before.

Swedish is closely related to English. The two languages have many words in common, like student, conversation, and under. There are many other words that are similar: båt means boat, katt means cat, and över means over. These similarities mean that you’ve got mental energy left over to focus on the process of language learning, which will make it easier for you to pick up other languages later.

5. Because you want to learn about Swedish culture.

Language is a gateway to culture, and there are lots of great reasons to want to immerse yourself in Swedish culture. Sweden consistently ranks as one of the happiest, most equal, and most environmentally friendly countries on the planet, so we could all learn a lot from the Swedes! If you want to know what the future will look like, studying about Sweden will give you an idea.