Considering we have lived here nearly a year, we have been average-poor students in the Swedish language. We have found that Swedes are very eager to speak English because they speak it so well and enjoy practicing. The temptation to revert to your native language is so strong, that we haven't really been "forced" to even try. The only real places where we have hit a brick wall with communications is at the playground with kids under school age. Many times I'll be at the playground with Calvin and children will come up to me and blather in Swedish about a long story. I'm left just nodding and agreeing with whatever they are saying with an "okej" and "jaha."
Not knowing the language is isolating and disorienting. The tendency to just tune out our surroundings is in direct conflict with our desire to experience this new country and all it has to offer. Learning the language has become a high priority since it is clear that we aren't simply going to "absorb" it on our own.
Last night we started in earnest with
our own Swedish language tutor. She is coming to the house every Tuesday night after Calvin goes to sleep so that we can focus on conversing. Our first lesson went really well and we were able to burn through the basics as a refresher and get to the speaking parts fairly quickly. She explains everything in English and gives us the Swedish translation. At the end of our lesson, we each had to speak sentences about ourselves, describing our age, names, where we were from, marital status, if we had children, their ages, etc. It was really great considering I didn't get to that level until my 4th week of classroom lessons. The tutor allows us to progress at our own rate, which is much faster than the classroom rate. She provided us additional examples for grammar rules and helped us understand it in a new way.
In order to make the most of our weekly meetings, Jon and I are committed to setting aside time a few nights a week to review our vocabulary, listening exercises and reading and writing comprehension. I'm approaching this like a teacher and putting together lesson plans, calendar invites (so work doesn't interfere) and lots of review time on our own. Jon's commute is 1 hour each way so he can drill vocabulary every day if he wanted... (hehe)
For online learning, we are engaging our brains on multiple fronts and using as many resources as possible:
Wish us luck!