Dare to be a beginner – general advice for language learners

When learning a new language, attitude and goal setting counts a lot for staying motivated and making progress. We have gathered our best tips for how you can stay on track and excel!

Accept being a learner. Fully accept that you are still learning – especially if you are a beginner, or even at an intermediate level! Have high hopes and ambitions, but low expectations. Cultivate a growth mindset and be patient. Accept that learning may go slow, at least at times. Learning something new is like being a toddler again, learning how to walk. You will fall, but eventually you will gain control and momentum and make enough progress to run around happily demonstrating your new skill.

Celebrate all progress you make and even small victories, in one way or another.

Keep up a good spirit. Attitude is everything! Notice how you “talk” to yourself and which attitude you have towards challenging texts, words and grammar. Some things will be harder than others, or less fun for sure, but nothing good ever came out of complaining or being harsh on yourself. Be kind to yourself and find ways to stay interested, stay motivated.

Keep an open mind. Be humble and curious. Any way of learning is a good way of learning!

Be active. Think actively about the language. “How would I say this? Would I use different words and phrasing for different people? What was the word for that again..?” Connect the dots! “This reminds me of … This is very similar to…”

Ask yourself questions to “mind fish” for what you know and use it. Ask Swedish speakers for help when you are curious or at loss.

Use several sources and double check. Keep the habit of using several tools and sources for learning and to double check things. Use your head and what you already know to decide if something is reasonable or not. A lot of tools, like Google translate, are great for a rough understanding but might be crude and unreliable.

Set SMART goals! The goals that you set will be easier to reach if you make sure they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Result-focused and Time-bound.

Stay committed. You have decided to learn Swedish, and for something you want badly there can be no excuses if you want to achieve a goal, master a skill. Don’t be too hard on yourself, but don’t let other things constantly get in the way either! Do your best to set aside some time every week – maybe even every day – to practice in one way or another. For conversations in IRL you don’t even need to set aside time, you just need to stay committed to have the courage to test your wings instead of falling back into old habits that are easy and convenient.

Do your best …with what you have and you will make progress! Aim for at least a little practice rather than none. You will make progress.

Avoid perfectionism. Don’t just gather words and try to perfect grammar in class or at home. You will be overwhelmed if you look at all the things you don’t know. Use the language and correct yourself as you go along. Triumph starts with “try”!

Speak from day 1. Start talking as soon as possible. Push yourself – gently! – in order to challenge yourself. The magic happens outside the comfort zone! Now will always be the time to start.

Have fun! Find ways to make learning and practicing fun and enjoyable.


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