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Moira Uggla: Moira Uggla: ”If you're not native, why pretend?”

If you come to a new country, one of the most important things you can do to become part of the community is to learn the language.It isn't easy, but it is something that is truly worth the effort.
At Näsby , young people who are new here can get help from Swedish-speaking volunteers who help them to speak good, everyday Swedish,, so necessary to be able to manage their daily life.
Moira Uggla
Kristianstad • Publicerad 20 september 2023
Detta är en personligt skriven text i Mosaik Kristianstadsbladet. Åsikter som uttrycks är skribentens egna.
Moira Uggla, översättare, krönikör mm Kb Mosaik
Moira Uggla, översättare, krönikör mm Kb MosaikFoto: Victor Lindstammer

On another page in Mosaik you can read about volunteers who help school pupils to improve their Swedish. This help is invaluable, for without the language it is very difficult to find one's place in the community.

To understand and be understood are fundamental to breaking isolation and make it possible to take part in everything that is going on round about. But to learn to function in a language you haven¨t grown up with is anything but easy. It is impressive that so many manage it.


As with everything else there are many ways of tackling the task of learning a new language. In school, for instance, you learn English or Spanish through rules and vocabulary lists, but you have to keep at it for quite a long time before you are able to use what you have worked hard to learn.

Inga-Lill och Muhammed ute på Gamlegården inför lanseringen av Kb Mosaik
Inga-Lill och Muhammed ute på Gamlegården inför lanseringen av Kb MosaikFoto: Peter Åklundh

When you come to Sweden and must suddenly do everything in Swedish, it's a completely different situation. Everything is strange, things you could do with your eyes closed in your own country suddenly become a problem, for you don¨t know if the rules you followed 'at home' apply here too.

There are so many little things you can do 'wrongly', and some new Swedes hardly dare to do anything at all in case they do something wrong. But what happens if you do something differently? Usually nothing at all, so just go ahead!

When it comes to actually learning a new language there are various strategies. It all depends on how you yourself are. Some people best remember what they see, others what they hear, and others what they do.If for example you best remember what you see, it doesn't help at all to read lists of words aloud over and over again, they simply don't fasten in your mind, you have to see the words before they stay in your head.

”Moira Uggla”
”It's important to think carefully and figure out how you function best”.

And a person who best remembers what he/she does, finds it easiest to remember words that are written down. It's all a question of working out how you yourself learn best.

When I came to Sweden there was no Sfi, so I had to learn Swedish all by myself. I had the radio on all day, no matter whether I understood or not. Among the first things I could understand was the shipping forecast - places and numbers, no long, complicated sentences. And the news - I knew more or less what was happening in the world, so it was just a question of trying to keep up.I always listened to a children's programme where authors read from their own books. My favourite was Astrid Lindgrenl, who read so clearly that even I could understand!

Very young children who learn Swedish as a second language have no problems with sound You don't have the same background as a native Swede, so why pretend? The main thing is to be able to make yourself understood, isn't it?

And Swedish isn't exactly the same over the whole country either - it isn't hard to tell if a person comes from Korpilombolo or Kristianstad, or from Malmö or Kristianstad for that matter. What is important is to have a good vocabulary so that you can say exactly what you mean, not that you sound as if you're grown up locally.

So keep on talking, take every opportunity to extend your language. And don't forget to read - that's how you can build up a good vocabulary, one of the most important aspects.