Everyday language learning
Language cafés are organised by many different organisations and associations. The idea of a language café is that you get to chat about all kinds of things in Swedish. It is also an opportunity to meet new people. You can go to a language café even if you don’t speak a lot of Swedish: you could start by talking about the weather or how your day is going, or just by practicing how to introduce yourself. Later, you could talk about things like current events.
In many cities, language cafés are organised by the Finnish Red Cross as well as many other organisations and municipalities. If you want to go to a language café, you can look for information by searching for local language cafés (e.g. Vasa + language café / språkcafé).
Another good idea is having a language café at your workplace, for example once a week during the workday! Anyone can take the initiative to organise a workplace language café: a supervisor or employee, a person learning Swedish or a native speaker of Swedish.
The association Luckan curates a list of Swedish language cafés in the capital region: Language cafés and other resources - Luckan integration.
Many higher education institutions organise tandem courses or Each One Teach One courses. These courses will match you with a Swedish person who is interested in learning your native language or about the culture of your country. Your match will guide you through Swedish language and culture. When you complete pre-agreed assignments, you could also get study credits for your efforts. Check what your higher education institution offers! You should also check out this UniTandem learning option.
Where can you find a Finland-Swedish friend?
You can look for a Finland-Swedish friend from many places.
- Participate in volunteer work, organizations and hobbies. Scroll further down for more information.
- One option to find a friend is online at kaverihaku.net. The site allows you to look for friends from different age groups all around Finland. You can use tags like #svenska, #finlandssvensk or #TalaSvenska
- Note that if you have children, you should participate in your child’s hobby by chatting with other parents and helping with volunteer work when there is something to sell, a cake to bake and so on. This way, you can also make new friends through your child’s hobby.
- The Finnish Red Cross may organise activities for immigrants.
- Attend a course, an organization's event or do volunteer work. There's more information about organizations and volunteer work further down on the page.
- Find friends through Facebook-groups:
- Your area or district might have a designated Facebook group or separate groups for local dog owners or parents. Some might be bilingual, some Finnish, some Swedish. It probably depends most on you area.
- Ask your local district group if there is a specialised group in the area.
- Don’t hesitate to post a personal ad, for example: Hi, I moved here six months ago. I would like to meet new people. If you are 20 to 30 years old and want to join me for a walk or to the cinema, message me!
Tips for learning Swedish on your own
Here you can find different tips on how to learn Swedish during your free time and how to create a rutin that supports your learning goals.
- Memorise new words every day. Three new words a day is already over 1,000 words a year!
- You can write the names of objects on notes and put them up at home and in the office.
- Change your phone’s language to Swedish and start learning new words!
- Practice with Memrise or other apps.
- Make yourself a set of flashcards. Write a word in Swedish on one side and add a translation or image to the other side. You can go through the cards alone or with someone.
- Divide up long words. Divide long words into sections and think about what the sections mean. For example: hälsovårdscentral is made up of hälsa (-> o) = health + vård = care + s + central = centre
- Write poetry about and with new words. Rhymes and fairytales help you memorise new words.
- Watch programmes subtitled in Swedish in Yle Språkskolan. If you don’t understand a word in a programme, you can click it in the subtitles and see a translation.
- Read aloud – it helps you learn words. It is easier to memorise words when you read, speak and hear them.
- Watch Swedish-language films or TV series with Swedish subtitles.
- Follow Finland-Swedish or Swedish youtubers and other social media channels.
- Listen to radio in Swedish and watch Swedish programmes from services such as Yle Arenan.
- Listen to news in Swedish on plain language websites, for example Yle nyheter på lätt svenska.
- Learn words by listening to music with the Lyrics training app.
- Record important phrases on your phone for different situations, such as cafés, the library or at work. Then listen to the relevant phrase, for example before ordering coffee, and repeat it to the barista. When you have learned the phrases, record new ones.
- Watch a TV show and repeat words, phrases and expressions you hear. Imitate the tone of voice, expressions and gestures.
- Play Alias, i.e. the game where you explain words. Look at a picture and explain the word in Swedish. You are not allowed to say the word itself or a part of it. The other person guesses what the word is.
- Ask your colleagues to speak Swedish with you every day for 10 minutes in the break room.
- Always ask about any words you don’t understand: “Ursäkta, vad betyder ‘julgubben’? = “Sorry, what does 'julgubben' mean?”
- Ask Finns to use Finnish with you: “Ursäkta, jag skulle vilja lära mig svenska, kan du tala lite långsammare, tack.” = “Sorry, I would like to learn Finnish, can you please speak more slowly?”
- Read free magazines, newspapers, comic books and blog posts in Swedish. It is easiest to start with short, topical texts or ones that otherwise interest you.
- Follow a Swedish chat forum and observe what is being discussed and how. What kind of language and expressions are people using?
- Read a text together with someone else. Each pick out the words that you think are most important for the text and write them down (at least 20 words). Then go through the words together.
- One option is to read the news article in your native language first and then read the same page in Finnish.
P.S. Reading is the best way to enrich your vocabulary.
- Write poems, stories or silly sentences about grammar rules. The sillier the sentence, the easier it is to remember.
- Write a pocket grammar book in your phone or a small notebook to collect grammar rules and mnemonics. This way, you always have your grammar rules with you so you can review them any time, like on the bus. It is also easier to remember grammar rules when you write them down yourself.
- Write sentences with different component parts highlighted with different colours, e.g. yellow for the verb, green for the subject and orange for the object. Read texts and colour in the different component parts.
- Use a program like Word to write, because a red line will appear under a word if you mistype it in Swedish.
- Send a small message in Finnish to a friend or colleague every week.
- Actively write WhatsApp and Facebook messages. Model your messages after what your Swedish speaking friends write.
- Social media offers a lot of suitable learning materials. It would be best for you to produce content yourself as well.
- Pick out ten new words from a paragraph in a textbook or some other text and use them to write a short story. Use all the words you picked. This helps you learn vocabulary in addition to producing text.
- Read a text in the target language, like a magazine article, and write down the parts that the text consists of: What does the text tell you first? And after that? Each paragraph has a core idea. Find it and write it next to the paragraph. Once you’ve analysed the structures of texts written by other people, it will be easier to plan your own writing.
- Reading enriches your writing!
Do you have time for a new hobby? Or do you have an old hobby that you could take up again? Many hobbies allow you to get to know new people, and most hobbies will also help you improve your language skills.
For example, if you go to a workout class, it is okay if you don’t understand everything the instructor says right away. The movements speak for themselves, and many instructions get repeated so many times that you’ll gradually learn them. Another positive thing is that you will meet people who are interested in the same things as you and you get to learn language about things that are important to you: you can learn the names of birds on a birdwatching course, food terminology in a cooking class and vocabulary about music and performing music if you join a choir. And much more of course: people at hobbies will usually talk about a wide range of everyday topics.
You can find affordable and versatile options for hobbies offered by adult education centres, for example. It is often a good idea to enrol for courses immediately (=on the same minute) when enrolment begins because many courses are very popular.
In Finland you can find several different Swedish hobbies, e.g. sports, choirs and book circles.
If you live in the capital region (Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Kauniainen) you can easily find Swedish hobbies on the website fritid.fi.
Finland is the promised land for organizations, associations and societies. There is a association for almost everything, also in Swedish. By participating in their activities you can get new friends with same interests as you and find yourself a hobby at the same time. In addition you get to learn new things and practice your language skills. There different kinds of organizations organize events, courses, trips and other fun things. Many of them also have a member's magazine, webpages and social media channels.
Big Swedish organizations in Finland with local societies in different areas are for example Folkhälsan, Marthaförbundet, Finlands svenska folkdansring, Svenska kvinnoförbundet, Natur och miljö and Finlands svenska sång- och musikförbund. Dig in and look for the local societies - there might be some near you. Then there is the organization Svenska.fi for people who are interested in learning Swedish in Finland. Ask also your Finland-Swedish friends and acquaintances for tips on nice and interesting associations and societies!
On the website InfoFinland you can find good general information about associations in Finland and a list of national organizations for immigrants: Associations (infofinland.fi).
If you want to establish an organization of your own or if you already are an active member in one, you might find some good help and information about how to manage an organization in Finland from the webpage Föreningsresursen. The content is in Swedish and made by the association Svenska folkskolans vänner.
Volunteer work is a good way to work for things you find important. It can be to help others or to participate in some way, for example in the board or help elders with everyday tasks. Volunteer work is not the same as work or internship, volunteer work is something you only do during your free time. This means that you do not get paid for volunteer work. This experience can be helpful though when you apply for paid work or an internship.
If you receive unemployment benefits, find out from your Employment and Economic Development Office whether volunteer work has an impact on your benefits. In some cases volunteer work can be a part of your integration plan. Read more on InfoFinland's website. To participate in an association's events is not volunteer work.
You can find volunteer work from example vapaaehtoistyö.fi.