Learning Swedish with Pimsleur

A month ago I decided that I had been in Sweden for too long to not know Swedish.

I wanted to find a structured course that would focus on pronunciation first. After some research I decided to try the 5 first lessons of the Pimsleur Swedish course on Audible. Going through a few lessons I felt that this was a great way to get started in learning a language, so I purchased all the existing lessons from 1 to 30 and committed myself to go through them on a daily basis.

Just a little bit of context: This was my first time using a Pimsleur course and it was the first time in twelve years that I started to learn a new language.

The approach is quite unique as it focuses exclusively on listening and repeating, with no text input (except in the reading practice that only start later) nor theoretical grammar explanation. The idea is to learn words in context within conversations and try to imitate as closely as possible the pronunciation of native speakers. Lessons are 30 minutes long and are to be followed on a daily basis. I found the balance between the review of previously acquired vocabulary and the acquisition of new vocabulary very well balanced. Repeating the same thing multiple times does improve the feeling for the language.

The typical structure of a lesson goes like this:

  • A dialogue with a few new words
  • Instructions in English (and sometimes in Swedish) asking to repeat or say something in Swedish
  • New words appear during every lesson (about 5 to 10 of them). Most of them are introduced early in the lesson between minute 1 to 15/20).
  • Usually the lessons closes with more variety to review the content that has been acquired in previous lessons (around minutes 20 to 30).
  • Starting from lesson eleven, the lessons end with a reading session (the reading materials are provided in a PDF format when purchasing the lessons).

I realised soon that it’s important to go through lessons when I’m perfectly calm, focused and not too tired. This helps a lot to do my best at imitating the sounds as close as possible, and it makes it easier to anticipate the audio instructions. Getting the right mood and flow also improves a lot the way I retain the new knowledge for the next day.

I also found it helpful to redo some lessons instead of going immediately to the next one when I felt that I was starting to be overwhelmed by the new vocabulary.

Here is a video of me going through lesson 29. I was a little bit distracted by the recording and I felt a little bit shaky on some new things learnt in lesson 28, so I’ll probably redo this lesson tomorrow before moving to the final lesson 30.

Note: I wasn’t aware that the sound coming out of my headphones would be recorded by my computer, so I hope I’m not infringing any copyright by uploading this on Youtube. It doesn’t seem very usable as it is for others and I guess it’s good marketing content for Pimsleur anyway.

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