I have a need to make several phone calls in Swedish to a few kindergartens to book time. To be honest this is what I consider the most difficult part of dealing with a foreign language: speaking this language at a less than desired level on the phone with a stranger to sort out some practical things. It almost scares me to some extent.
I wonder if anyone has had any similar experiences before? Did you run into any difficulties? Do you have any tips on how one can ease the pressure? I’d love to hear any thoughts/comments on this.
Yes, Derek, this is normal. On the phone it is very difficult to deal with a stranger. But do not worry, if you stay longer in Sweden, and especially if your child grows up and you talk with many of the parents of his friends, you won’t have any difficulties any more in near future. Good luck. Silvia
Yeah, I have had some experience with this stuff. I have had to call electricity companies and whatnot in Austria to sort stuff out. It can be difficult. I was actually surprised the first few times I did it at how well it went. One time I called the water company after I missed the day when the guy was meant to come round and read off how much hot water I have used. When the woman on the phone explained what was going to happen, i.e. that they would base the bill for this year on the previous year’s usage and then correct for any inaccuracies in a year when they do the reading again, I simply could not understand her at all. There was so much technical vocabulary. I just said ‘ok, ich verstehe’ and then got a friend to call them back later and find out.
I remember the feeling very well, indeed. What helped me was to imagine that I was looking at the person I was speaking to and that I could simply behave normally as I would do face-to-face, a kind of whole body listening… That made it easier to ask people on the phone to repeat something.
Thanks all for your comments and encouragement! I made the calls this morning. I managed to fix the things I wanted to fix, and even chatted a little with a nice lady on the phone.
Some random takeaways for my own reference:
Listen more to the local dialect. i.e. skånska (Malmö version). If I understand 70% of a conversation in the standard Swedish, then I can understand at most 20% of the same conversation in the local dialect. Since I live in this region, I have to make an effort to get used to this dialect.
Good preparation still makes a difference. I made a list of relevant words, wrote down some of what I want to say in Swedish before I made the phone calls. They made it easier for me to get my message across.
Don’t be afraid to speak like a child. People will understand that I am a language learner. Most of them will be nice and adjust their expectations accordingly. If they don’t, get the job done and just let it go.
Language learning is indeed a long process. Be patient and give myself some credit for what I’ve achieved over the years.
Thanks for your feedback, It’s interesting and full of common sense. !