Swedish 101

Historical society offers a six-week class on language, culture.

Imagine attending Fika, a traditional Swedish meal where friends and family take a coffee break to enjoy baked goods and each other's company. What are the appropriate manners? What are the words for please and thank you in Swedish?

To learn the answers to these questions and more, attend the Swedish 101 classes at the Carver County Historical Society. Sharon Eklund, fluent in Swedish, leads the class. "It's not an easy or difficult language to learn. Immersion is very important," Eklund says. To assist with pronunciation, Eklund uses illustrations of mouth positions to help students understand the proper tongue placement to utilize while speaking Swedish.

The class focuses on speech and vocabulary, but cultural activities are also implemented. These include reading road signs and learning etiquette for social gatherings. Attendees also create a craft that reflects Swedish culture. "Our holiday craft was making Tomtes, a gnome character that protects a family's home," says Heidi Gould, curator of education and exhibits.

With eight people making up the spring class, the fall session may be a continuation of the first round. However, beginners are always welcomed. The regular six weeks could be extended to eight weeks to introduce newcomers to the basics, or there will be a separate class for beginners.

Attendees are eager to learn Swedish for a host of reasons. Ann Soderstrom took the spring course to improve the Swedish she used while visiting Sweden. "It's fun going back to the basics, like going back to school from kindergarten up in a different language," Soderstrom says. She plans to continue her education in the fall classes.

Whether a novice or not, Swedish 101 offers the chance to learn something new about Swedish language and culture.

Classes held on Tuesday nights at 6 p.m. October 17 and 31, November 7, 14, 21 and 28. $50-members, $60- nonmembers.