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Did you know that Swedish is one of the most widely-spoken languages in the world? Of the 6,500 known languages to exist, only 53 are spoken worldwide by more than 10 million people - Swedish is lucky to count itself as one of them. Together with Danish and Norwegian, Swedish is a scandinavian language and constitutes, together with English and German, the germanic branch of the indo-european language group. Most Danes and Norwegians are thus able to understand Swedish and vice versa. It is for this reason that learners of the language feel at ease not just in Sweden but in other parts of Scandinavia as well. Of Sweden's ten million inhabitants, 80% are native-speakers; the remaining 20% comprises foreign residents who count Sweden as their adopted homeland and speak more than 150 languages altogether. In Finland, Swedish is the second most widely-spoken language and has equal legal standing on the south and west coasts where it is spoken by approximately 300,000 people.

A language similar to the modern scandinavian languages, a.k.a. 'old Norse', was used throughout Scandinavia up until the Viking Ages (800 a.d.). The Vikings travelled widely and, as trading partners and pirates overseas, brought back influences from various other foreign languages that they encountered on their travels. Understandably, this had an impact on old Norse, which was particularly influenced by Greek and Latin. Over time, Swedish continued to take on various influences and develop further. Its runic symbols were transcribed into latin letters in the 16th century when the country went through the Reformation. Later, it was influenced by German through Martin Luther's translation of the Bible, and French, as the lingua franca of the 18th century. When English took over as lingua franca a century later, it too contributed to the development of Swedish. Of course, various other languages have also left their mark on Swedish - in the end, Swedish as we know it today started off as a mere dialect around Lake Mälaren and in Stockholm.

For more information on the Swedish language, click here (in English).

Curious? Read on to find out the best way to learn Swedish!

The best way to learn Swedish is to take up a language course as well as travel to the country of red wood houses, cinnamon rolls and elks. At ZESS, Swedish at the beginner's level (A1 - B1) is offered both in the winter and summer semesters. The intermediate level is split into B2.1 and B2.2 - the former is often offered only in the summer semester, whereas the latter is offered in the winter semester. Upon conclusion of the beginner's level (B1), students have the chance to apply for a UNIcert® I certificate; upon conclusion of the intermediate level (B2), students have the chance to apply for a UNIcert® II certificate.

Outside the classroom, students have the chance to expand their language skills at the ZESS's Norse Film Nights. Interested students can view the programme at the start of the semester. Information regarding external events is always posted on this website, on the Nordic Language blackboard at ZESS and in the Facebook group. In addition, the Svenska institutet offers summer coursesand a free online course, both of which are great additions to the courses at ZESS.

Students may also find language learning apps such as Babbel and Nemo useful, as well as reading newspaper articles in Swedish, listening to Swedish podcasts or radio programmes and watching television in Swedish.