I live and work in Finland which recently became one of the happiest countries in the world. It is an amazing place to be. Social care, cashless operations, convenient public transportation, and kind, supportive people around, which is a very important factor in common living. The majority of people speaking English fluently which makes it seamless to navigate through shops, workplaces, and governmental institutions. After living in Finland for a while, I decided to pass the language test called YKI which allows showing minimum language skills for applying for citizenship. There are two options: Finnish and Swedish. I failed miserably to learn Finnish, so my choice is the second one. In this article, I would like to share my experience in my preparation for this YKI exam on the intermediate level in Swedish which is B1-B2 in European classification. The motivation behind it is such that I have not found any article which is helping for YKI in Swedish specifically.
The best way of developing your vocabulary is to do it frequently. Today there are dozens of apps for learning languages. I would say that the most useful for me ones are WordDive (Finnish app), DuoLingo and Memrise. They are encouraging a user by achievements. The importance of that is to listen and to try repeating the new words and phrases. However, you need to be stubborn about not giving up.
Also, it helped me to group words into topics with the think maps which are done by hand. One more way for me was having a notebook, where I put all the words in needed forms. I recommend putting attention into definite and indefinite forms of nouns. They are almost randomly distributed with ‘ett’ and ‘en’ articles. The other complex part of Swedish is four verb forms that should be memorized.
One more tip in this section is about common usages of the language. Put language settings on your phone in Swedish and also voice assistance on it. Feeds of Instagram and Facebook with interesting topics regarding your hobby or work will also increase your knowledge.
Listen and Read
News is a great source of fresh information every day. That’s great that there are many websites and podcasts with easy Swedish:
- https://8sidor.se/ — many topics and google translate for listening
- https://www.svtplay.se/nyheter-pa-latt-svenska — every workday you can listen, watch and read subtitles for the hottest topics in Sweden
- https://poddtoppen.se/podcast/1081830394/radio-sweden-pa-latt-svenska — useful for commuting or while doing sports. Clear pronunciation and slow tempo
These two links I recommend for YKI especially:
- https://areena.yle.fi/1-4590175 — Finnish talk show with the famous guests of Swedish-speaking Finns. Also helpful for YKI because of the special way of talking.
- https://svenska.yle.fi/x3m/radio — one more local media. Great to listen in the car or commuting. There you can find news, interviews, phone calls to the listeners.
- https://www.netflix.com/title/80141270 — comedy-drama TV series with many dialogues on very common situations and holidays
- https://www.netflix.com/title/80211703 — very modern vocabulary. Recommended for those who have steel nerves.
- https://www.netflix.com/title/80208373 — Nordic noir parody. Mostly in English but you will be able to hear Swedish quite often because it is a thriller.
If you are located in Finland, I recommend watching all the TV series and movies (especially well-known) which are in English with Swedish subtitles on Netflix and local cinemas. Do not forget to check HBO and Apple streaming services. On YouTube, dozens of videos can be found:
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExmrOY6r2o8 — first episode of the series where the guy is teaching Swedish in English.
- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfPfqRi_UmyHvsA2Ih-tb5w — famous smurfs that are dubbed.
Train test structure and write
I have been to TOEFL before and I have learned that knowledge of the test structure is one of the most important factors on the successful pass.
The hardest part of preparation is writing which is the easiest on the exam itself. My advice here is to find the teacher who can be even online. For me, it helped dramatically in the scope of preparations. One more tip is that you will write with just a pencil which will be given to you at the beginning of the exam. In the digital age, do not forget to train your hand and write at least several weeks before with it.
In YKI you need to pass one of the combinations with at least 3 out of 4:
- Speaking and writing
- Listening comprehension and writing
- Reading comprehension and speaking
The key to learning the language is the ability to use it on a day-to-day basis. Finland is a duo lingual country which means that every sign is translated in Swedish. Be curious and google words that you do not know and to your vocabulary. Going to the supermarket can be a great way to read in Swedish and in some places even to speak. I recommend finding a Language cafe which specializes in Swedish. In the Helsinki capital area, it is not hard.
Here I am listing the most common topics which will help you to succeed for all the parts of the exam:
- About yourself (work, hobbies, and timetable, and personal qualities)
- The area around you (housing, places of interest, neighbors)
- Shopping (common and traditional food, goods and clothes, money)
- Traveling (countries, means of transportation, hotels, city)
- Media (news, internet)
- Health (body parts, doctor’s visit, and booking)
- Holidays (especially Finnish ones, Santa Lucia, Christmas, Midsommer)
- Ordinary situations (bank, library, buying in the shop)
Learning a new language can be tough and complicated especially when you have a goal to pass the exam according to your needs. I hope that this article gives you an overview and a starting point for your preparation. The most important part is consistency even with small intervals of time every day. Going to the specific courses will also work out but find the one with as many tuition hours as possible in a week.
This is my article on lifestyle and motivation. Please, clap, if you like the article and follow my account to read other stories about this and tech. In another one, I am discussing my findings on how to change yourself persistently.