You know all of those teachers who warn you about using Wikipedia academically? Well… they have a point. Kind of. At least if you start citing Wikipedia in your university papers. Don’t. But if you’re looking to improve your language skills? Do.
There are plenty of ways to use Wikipedia to improve your Swedish language skills. Here are three specific ways to do just that:
- Read in Swedish. Interested in learning more about Petra Mede who hosted the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest? There’s a Wikipedia page about her. Love the Swedish national hockey team? There’s a Wikipedia page about Tre kronorna. Curious about Husby, Stockholm? There’s a Wikipedia page about the suburb. Wikipedia might not be to a point where it is trusted as a cited source in research papers, but it most definitely is a great place to start. To pick up a few new facts. To practice reading your Swedish!
- Learn vocabulary. Quick, what’s the word for Sandhill Crane in Swedish? Don’t worry, I didn’t have the slightest clue either. Know what I did? Went to the Sandhill Crane Wikipedia page and then just clicked on the link to the left that reads “Svenska.” (It’s prärietrana by the way.) It seems silly. Sometimes it is. But Wikipedia allows you to bounce around, clicking your way into a fun oblivion of new Swedish words. You can switch back and forth between your native language and Swedish or you can just work your way through the page reading and coming up with your own translation. Try it. It’s surprisingly entertaining. Plus, you learn a bunch of things you really don’t need to know.
- Edit Wikipedia pages. Notice that the date of an obscure battle that you happen to be an expert on is wrong in the Swedish Wikipedia entry? Fix it. Realize that there is no Swedish entry about Jonas Hassen Khemiri’s play Invasion!? Write one. Disappointed that there is no English entry about your favorite Swedish astronomer, Jesper Sollerman? Translate it from Swedish into your native language. You get the idea. If you’re confident enough in your Swedish abilities, want to practice writing or even translating, Wikipedia is a great way to add to the democratization of information and learn some Swedish while you’re doing it. Of course, make sure your Swedish is at a level where you can create something that other people will be reading. If you’re not entirely comfortable using Wikipedia to edit, head over to sandlådan (the sandbox) where you can practice a bit.
Don’t limit yourself to just one strategy when learning a language. Using online sources to learn Swedish (or any language really) can be incredibly helpful. From online translators to newspapers to Wikipedia. You’ll be amazed at what you can find. And of course, Transparent Language has several different options to improve your Swedish and to test yourself. Good luck!
And seriously… someone needs to write a good Wikipedia entry about Khemiri’s play Invasion!