New Swedish learning routine – #clearthelist June ’17

The days are getting longer and I find it much easier to study a bit after dinner while it’s still bright outside. In May I finally started to teach Italian again and I’m willing to move my teaching online as soon as possible. It’s frustrating to waste two hours on the tube for every hour of lesson. I want to be able to dedicate that time to add more creativity to language learning!

How did it go last month?

First of all, I was finally able to put into words the reasons for my crisis with Japanese. It will take some time to solve the issues, but it’s a start. I did watch a few movies (you’ll find my recommendations below) and listened to music.

I’m enjoying practising writing on Instagram. The language learning community is active and lively there and I like to see how everyone is doing and to be inspired.

I didn’t watch any movie in French and Swedish though. It’s difficult to force myself to pick a film just because it’s in my target language. Movies are a very serious business for me and I can only watch something if it fits the mood.

French reading practice worked alright, I also used French for a few Google searches instead of English.

Studying Swedish this month was really pleasant, more so than usual. I accomplished most of my goals: I learnt over 100 words on Memrise – Swedish 5, studied regularly on Babbel (*) and and practised reading every week. I have mostly absorbed and had a slow learning approach for a while, but I finally feel it’s time to step up my game.

A new Swedish learning routine

I’ve been feeling more confident about Swedish recently: I’m familiar with the sentence structure, I can predict some patterns and I learnt enough vocabulary to start producing sentences beyond “the pen is on the table”. With the help of a dictionary, I am also able to read simple articles and posts written for native speakers. This is why I want to challenge myself: this month I will start exploring 8 Sidor, a website with simplified news in writing and audio. It’s aimed at intermediate learners and I’m not even close, but reading is my strongest point so I’m going to dare.

Last week I got some news that made me rethink my Swedish learning routine: an invitation to the wedding of my boyfriend’s sister, at the end of the summer. As I’m going to meet most of the family (no pressure at all!) I want to be able to have decent conversations with them in Swedish. I am sure everyone will be amazing in English, but that would be cheating, right?

I am going to prepare to have conversations on a few topics that might come up during the event and to answer and ask questions about myself and others. My keywords will be: reinforce (what I already learned) and build (new skills and confidence).

In the past few months I had dropped Duolingo as I didn’t find it useful in the first stages of learning, but now I’m going back to a few sessions a week. For me, it works much better as a reviewing tool.

I added to my resources a new website (thank you, Marie, for recommending it!): It’s fun and covers everyday vocabulary that might actually come in handy.

Babbel, and Memrise will still be part of my weekly routine. In particular, I want to create a new deck on Memrise for words, sentences and expressions to use in conversations. The areas I want to reinforce or build are:

  • Introducing myself: nationality, age, profession, where I live.
  • Family.
  • Likes and dislikes.
  • Verbs: present tense, past tense, future tense.
  • Small talks.
  • Talk about my country.
  • Food, drinks.

These are mostly very basic topics but I want to be sure I can talk extensively and with confidence about them. You might have guessed it: talking is the hardest part for me – in any language really, even my own!

The biggest change to my routine will be adding a lot of production. Every week I will pick one subject and write a brief text about it, researching vocabulary and getting it corrected. I will then have a conversation about the same topic, expanding it with new words and expressions.

Can you think of any other area I should prepare for the big occasion? I might be too nervous to think clearly!

Language goals for French and Japanese

I will give myself as much freedom as possible with Japanese. We had a bad breakup and we need to become friends again, so we’ll be kind to each other. Hopefully, there will be many more movies – one per week sound like a good deal.

For French I will have the chance to talk as I’m seeing an old friend from France later this month, we’ll see if I can still express myself. I will also keep reading an article per week.

Japanese movies recommendations

In May I watched two beautiful movies by director Hirokazu Koreeda, After Life and Air Doll. You can find two bite-sized Japanese lessons inspired by these films in my last post.

I also watched three very good animated works.

Kiki Delivery Service (魔女の宅急便 Majo no takkyūbin), an old favourite of mine, is the story of a young witch growing up, learning to live by herself and to be independent. It’s a very sweet movie by Hayao Miyazaki, produced by Studio Ghibli. Not only the film itself is lovely, but it’s also set in a town inspired by Stockholm and Visby. Watching it right after coming back from Sweden got me nostalgic and emotional.

Patema Inverted (サカサマのパテマ  Sakasama no Patema) is a science fiction work set in a dystopic world. Humans have messed around with gravity with worrying results. Amidst a dictatorship fuelled by fear and hate, a boy and a girl will meet and bond despite all adversities.

Pom Poko (平成狸合戰ぽんぽこ Heisei tanuki gassen ponpoko), directed by Studio Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata, is a tale rooted in Japanese folklore and with a strong environmentalist message. Tanuki 狸 (Japanese racoon dogs) are threatened by humans destroying their forest, so they decide to open a war against men. A cleaver, fun yet bitter portrays of Japan and its modernisation (or westernisation?).

new swedish learning routine

Disclaimer: some links in this post are affiliates, which means that if you buy something through them I get a small commission at no additional cost for you. Thank you for supporting Hitoritabi. 🙂


I’m Elena Gabrielli, introvert, grammar geek & proud Ravenclaw :)
I’m on a journey to help introverts and other quiet learners make language learning into a tool for self-care (and keep anxiety out of it).


  1. 1st June 2017 / 11:26 pm

    Lycka till!! Det låter som ett bra mål! I am sure this is going to be a huge source of motivation and that you’ll take your Swedish to a next level. You seemed structured and determined, and I’m sure the whole family will be charmed! We’ll be waiting to read updates about your progress!

    • Elena
      2nd June 2017 / 9:40 am

      Tack så mycket Marie! I do feel very motivated and it’s also good timing, as I’m just starting to feel confident enough to speak. Fingers crossed! I’ll keep you updated on my progress in the next Clear the list post 🙂

  2. 2nd June 2017 / 11:25 am

    So cool, you are also trying to use Swedish to talk with the family of your boyfriend’s sister. When it comes to speaking, the topics you mentioned are the most important ones. I also start practicing a language by learning how I can introduce myself and have a small talk with a native speaker. Good luck and let us know your experience in your next post.

    • Elena
      2nd June 2017 / 3:52 pm

      Thank you Kamila! I feel much more motivated now that I have one clear thing to look forward to, hopefully this will help me improve faster. I will let you know how it goes!

  3. 2nd June 2017 / 11:51 pm

    These are great goals! I love the idea of you learning some more Swedish to speak with his family! My boyfriend and I have been dating for 5 years now and I think he has only picked up about 10 words in Spanish (My family is Cuban)! haha I wish he was this motivated! ^^ I hope you meet and excel in all your goals this month! 🙂

    • Elena
      3rd June 2017 / 11:34 am

      It’s a bit the same for me, my boyfriend doesn’t really know any Italian. I am the language geek in the couple though so that’s understandable 🙂 Thank you and good luck with your goals too!

  4. 5th June 2017 / 1:46 pm

    Really thorough set of goals. I completely agree about watching films in target language. There is no point watching a bad film just because it might teach you some words. I always find I get more out of it when I love the story in my own language. At the moment I am watching Pokemon in German (nerdy I know) and it is great fun.
    Sometimes having an event, like a family wedding, is the best thing to give you that boost. Whenever I book a trip I always learn loads more than if I am just doing it in my spare time for fun. One thing I found was helpful was to write a fake script for a situation you think could come up in conversation to focus on words you are missing. Might be helpful for wedding conversation planning 🙂

    • Elena
      5th June 2017 / 6:29 pm

      Hello Sam, thank you for your comment!
      Watching Pokemon actually sounds like a good plan, I might steal that one 🙂 Though maybe I wouldn’t learn much vocabulary appropriate for the wedding! 😀
      Writing a script is a great tip, thank you! I will definitely try.

  5. 6th June 2017 / 8:56 pm

    for your Swedish goal, you might also work (reinforce or build Idk where you’re at ^^) on your ear and oral comprehension skills. I randomly ran across this Swedish youtuber lately: Clara Henry, she seems fun and her channel has English subtitles. Idk, that might help. Also “Vitamin Well” has Swedish videos of Zlatan Ibrahimovic interviewing people (with English subtitles too). In bocca al lupo con la tua nuova famiglia!

    • Elena
      9th June 2017 / 10:59 am

      Hi Akita! That’s a great tip, thank you. I definitely need to improve my oral comprehension – would be awkward if I prepared to speak but couldn’t actually understand what they are asking me! I watched some Clara Henry videos, she’s fun! I’ll check “Vitamin Well” too, grazie mille!

  6. 7th June 2017 / 5:17 pm

    Miyazaki films are incredible! I can’t wait to study Japanese so that I can watch them in their original language. Best of luck to you this month with your goals.

    • Elena
      9th June 2017 / 11:00 am

      Yes, they’re part of the reason I started loving Japan to begin with. Most of them are quite easy to understand, so when you start with Japanese it’s good material for listening from the beginning. Thank you and good luck with your goals as well.