Sweden is regularly ranked as one of the top countries in speaking English as a second language. Swedish people are not only good at English, but they are very willing, which is not always common in Europe. Swedes have come to speak English at such a high rate that in 2009, Swedish was officially declared Sweden’s main language to reinforce a bit of national pride.
Because of this, many international talents who move to Sweden enjoy the benefit of not being forced to learn Swedish. Though the Swedish natives try to be as welcoming as possible to non-Swedish speakers, it is actually highly recommended that you learn the language if you plan on living in Sweden long term. But why would one need to learn Swedish, if Swedes are so willing to speak English?
Well, here are 10 great reasons:
1. Learning Swedish will benefit your long-term career goals
Maybe most importantly, learning Swedish will benefit your long-term career aspirations in Sweden. Once you’ve entered a field, the opportunities to be promoted and continue with a company could depend on your skill in Swedish. Employers who may consider you for a potential management role will appreciate being able to speak with you in their native language as they will feel more confident that there will be no misunderstandings. Being able to lead a team of native Swedish speakers will also be easier, as you will be more able to understand and relate to your employees. Having the ability to speak both Swedish and English while working locally and internationally will make you a more attractive candidate as you continue to rise up the ranks in a Swedish company.
2. Better opportunities to find work
One of the most stressful parts about moving to a new country is finding a job. If you want a better opportunity for working in Sweden, then learning Swedish will be imperative. A lot of job offers require applicants to know Swedish, including jobs that will require you to know English. Employers value work climates where there are limited mistakes made based on communication. The work atmosphere works best when a group of co-workers can function as a team and shared language could be a major factor in that.
You may be moving to a place in Sweden that is not considered a major city. In smaller towns and cities, there will be fewer foreign travelers and tourists for companies to market to, limiting the need to employ someone who doesn’t speak Swedish. Also consider that when trying to get a job done, it’s more convenient for most to communicate in their native language, including the English proficient swedes.
3. Learning Swedish shows respect for Swedish culture
One of the best ways to integrate into a new country is by showing respect for the culture and ways of the people. And if you are interested in moving to Sweden, learning the language is the best way to start the process. The language of Swedish is a gateway to the culture of this Scandinavian country. Learning Swedish will ensure you thrive in your new setting and the natives will accept you more. The Swedish will truly appreciate that you show signs of caring about their ways and land instead of just taking advantage of all the opportunities provided to foreigners. Going to any foreign country with the attitude that you are unwilling to change and adapt is not a great way to be successful there. In order to truly enjoy any traveling experience, one must be willing to try new things (unless it’s surströmming).
4. Fitting in culturally
One of the first things that define a culture is a language. The way people speak is so important in identifying where they come from and what their home is all about. Language also entails what people are thinking and Swedish is no different. Some things cannot be communicated outside of a language. Swedish people will often say that you cannot understand their jokes unless you hear it in its natural Swedish context. Learning Swedish will give you more perspective into the Swedish culture, helping you relate as you gain a true context of the Swedish ways. This will be a major step as you integrate into the Swedish culture, and it will be more fun! The Swedish term Jantelagen is a great example of language connecting culture.
5. Fitting in Socially
Have you ever felt alone while surrounded by people? Many internationals living in Sweden have experienced this, and it’s not a pleasant feeling. Swedish people are willing English speakers however, sometimes they feel more comfortable speaking in their native tongue. Many of us have experienced a situation where we are with two swedes, all speaking English. All of a sudden one of the Swedish colleagues doesn’t know how to express something in English so they switch to Swedish. Well, what typically happens is that the Swedes forget to switch back, and, in this situation, you might as well be watching a foreign movie without subtitles. No one likes the feeling of being left out, and without learning Swedish there will be many times when you will feel like you are. Also consider that some people are not as willing or shyer to speak English, so they will only speak in Swedish, especially outside of the major cities.
6. Learning Swedish will make for better communication
Learning Swedish will help with overall communication when you move to Sweden. Even though most Swedish people speak English very well, you must remember that English is still their second language. There are often times when a Swedish individual will understand you to mean something different from what you said. Swedish people may take your words too literally or perceive the context in a different way. Also, certain things may be said to you in English by a native Swedish speaker, which could also confuse you. Here, it is significant to learn Swedish to best communicate your points as well as to receive them. Have you ever had a juicy cake? Well, a Swede may refer to a specific pastry as ‘juicy’, giving you the idea that the baked good contains fruit when they actually just mean it is moist.
7. A new skill can equal more fun
Learning Swedish will give you a brand-new skill and you will enjoy the ability to speak a new language. Swedish is not the most regularly used language in the world, and that is the fun part! Imagine traveling to a new country with a Swedish companion and being able to speak Swedish with them. No one else will understand what you are saying, showing just how fun having a rare language under your belt can be. It will also be cool to understand the language when it appears in movies or while reading a book. And of course, having more knowledge is never a bad thing.
8. Learning Swedish will enhance your Ability to learn other languages
If you are moving to Sweden, then you are probably interested in other cultures and languages also. Since you will be living so close to Denmark and Norway, it may be nice to use your Swedish skills to learn some of the languages of the neighboring Scandinavian countries. Learning Swedish can enhance your ability to learn Norwegian and Danish as they are the most similar languages. This will also lead to you having more skills and opportunities to possibly expand your business and career aspirations throughout northern Europe. It is also good to know that some jobs request applicants to be fluent in not only Swedish but Norwegian or Danish as well.
9. Become independent by learning Swedish
Long gone can be the days when you struggle to type out some needed information into google translate. Learning the Swedish language will eliminate the need to copy and paste text from important documents and emails. No longer will you have to wait for your Swedish partner or colleague to tell you what the important information you missed meant. Being able to speak Swedish, you will be able to fill out applications and agree to certain things without the stress that you are making a mistake. You will also be happy to look at a menu and order food by yourself without a Swedish companion making you feel like a child.
10. Challenge yourself by learning Swedish
Moving to a foreign country, you have already accomplished and achieved so much! Being able to move to another place demonstrates a strong ability to adapt and overcome that others may not have. If you enjoy overcoming and showing your strong will, continue this by learning a new language. It is hard to learn a new language as an adult and it can at times be very frustrating. However, the sense of accomplishment you will feel after mastering a new language (especially one as tough as Swedish) will be so fulfilling. Swedish people are very supportive, so you can depend on your new friends and colleagues to lend a helping hand as you learn Swedish.