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The huge popularity of Scandinavian crime novels and detective dramas has caused a surge of enthusiasm for the languages and cultures of northern Europe. Whether you're interested in visiting Sweden for business or pleasure, or just want to understand your favorite TV shows without the aid of subtitles, there has never been a better time to learn to speak Swedish.

Holiday destination

With its big cities, deep forests and majestic coastline, Sweden offers a huge variety of sights and a holiday to suit everyone. Enjoy the shops and museums of Stockholm, or get away from it all with a wilderness holiday in a log cabin. In winter, drive a dogsled, stay at the Ice Hotel and watch the Northern Lights. In summer, enjoy long, bright days and evenings of swimming, catching crayfish and picking berries. You'll have a richer experience if you can chat with locals and fellow-tourists in Swedish.

Live, work and study

Much of Sweden's economy depends on exports, and the country has strong trade links with the UK. Aerospace, telecommunications and the motor trade are just a few of the industries in which you might easily end up doing business with Sweden. Whether you're traveling to Sweden yourself or greeting Swedish visitors at your place of work, imagine how much more smoothly things could go with a few words of welcome in their native tongue.

Sweden has many universities and other institutes of higher education, a number of which offer courses to foreign students. It's a great chance to study in a friendly environment and absorb local culture too.

About the language

The most noticeable linguistic feature of Swedish is its melodic, sing-song quality. The language has this sound because the tone of a syllable, as well as its pronunciation, is important for conveying meaning.

You will also notice that, like German, Swedish has many lengthy compound words which can be intimidating until you break them down into their component parts.

As well as being spoken in Sweden and parts of Finland, Swedish is so closely related to its neighbors, Danish and Norwegian. Once you have learned one of these Scandinavian languages you will easily get by in the others. Be prepared for some good-natured teasing, however, since native speakers from all three countries have a long tradition of poking fun at each other's accents.

Learn to speak Swedish

At first, the language can look very complicated, with its long words, non-intuitive spelling and accented letters. Yet the basics, like 'hello' and 'thank you', are easy to grasp, and will get you a long way.

The best way to familiarize yourself with vocabulary and phrases is by seeing and hearing the words frequently. Babbel, which lets you take a quick language lesson whenever you like – on your computer or mobile device – is the ideal medium for learning to speak Swedish. The interactive lessons boost comprehension with listening, speaking, reading and writing exercises that utilize the latest educational technologies.