Swedish Language Blog

Svenska Samtalsbordet Posted by on Jan 25, 2012 in Swedish Language

We’re always looking for learning language tips here at Transparent. It’s why everyone who works so hard on the various language learning software is so proud of what they do (if you haven’t already, check out what Transparent has to offer). But sometimes, some of the best things in life are free. Or, at least they don’t cost any money. When it comes to learning a language, there are some easy activities you can arrange to help you practice your new language.

One such way is the language conversation table, or samtalsbord. It’s a simple enough idea. Grab a few language learning friends, meet up once (or twice, or three times, or however many you want) and speak Swedish for an hour. Only Swedish. Only an hour. You’d be surprised how much you can actually say and how much you can actually understand.

The key is of course making sure that your conversation table becomes a recurring event. The best way to do so is to pick a time that works for a decent amount of people. Maybe your group does best right around 5:30 after work. Maybe your group likes to meet at lunch. Maybe you are a morning coffee person. It doesn’t matter, but make it regular. By choosing a set time every single week, it is easier to make your conversation table a habit.

Make sure that all levels are welcome. In fact, encourage it. Advanced language learners can learn a lot by helping beginners with pronunciation, word order, and vocabulary. It forces you to think about the language in a way you may not have done before. Beginners can learn a lot from watching and listening to more advanced speakers. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship that can also lead to a lot of great friendships.

Some conversation tables like to have a script to work from. A sort of introductory discussion that gets repeated at every meeting and gets the ball rolling. Others like to let the conversation come organically. That’s up to you. I’m a proponent of the organic conversation. It’s more realistic and in my opinion more interesting. You never know what you’ll learn how to say in Swedish if you just let things happen.

Finally, if you have some Swedes in the area, invite them along. It’s great to have a native speaker to practice with and more often than not, they are excited to be able to use their language and help others learn.

A great place to start when forming a language table is in your classroom. Many of you are learning Swedish with a bunch of other students who share your interest in the language. Take advantage of that and get together. Even if you find yourself actually in Sweden learning Swedish, it can be a great exercise to meet up with other learners to share your experiences (in Swedish of course). If you are an industrious soul trying to learn on your own, check around. You might be surprised by the Swedish community in your area. Look for Swedish-American clubs, community colleges or universities, or check for online communities willing to share a samtalsbord online. You might be surprised by how many people are actively trying to learn the language right alongside you.

As always, good luck, and please be sure to let us know how it goes for you, whether you are staring a new language table or if you’re already a part of one.

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About the Author: Marcus Cederström

Marcus Cederström has been writing for the Transparent Swedish Blog since 2009. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Scandinavian Studies from the University of Oregon, a Master's Degree in Scandinavian Studies from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and a PhD in Scandinavian Studies and Folklore from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He has taught Swedish for several years and still spells things wrong. So, if you see something, say something.


  1. Rebecca:

    I love this idea! Anyone else want to try this?

  2. Marcus Cederström:

    Hopefully this worked for some of you