Why Do Swedish People Speak Such Good English?



Our coach was driving on a deserted road, with a view punctuated by pastures, lakes and forests. We passed some horses occasionally, but no people could be seen except for passengers in oncoming cars.


The weather was fine; a blue sky spotted with white clouds. The temperature was approximately 15 degrees and it was warmer than I had expected. Looking down from the plane, the clouds shadowed black spots on to the ground, like Friesian cows. From below, we could see a layer of clouds which stretched out to the horizon. Strange as it may sound, the sky looked lower in this unusually flat and wide place.

eI feel a bit claustrophobic under such low clouds.f said Julia and I agreed with her. I thought the psychology of humans was very strange because we felt claustrophobic in such a wide, open place.


Because Julia had a Swedish friend named Anna, she had had some opportunities to find out about Swedish language, customs and foods. She said she wanted to buy a special confectionery called liquorice and a bottle of absinthe which has 80% alcohol(!). Though she spoke some Swedish words, most were swear words.


Julia said that Anna spoke perfect English. When I visited the Skåne District in February, I was surprised that almost all Swedish people spoke fluent English without any accent. In the coach, Julia and I talked about why Swedish people speak such good English. My daughter said it could be because the Swedish are taught English very well at school, which I agreed with.

eMoreover, the English language is quite similar to Swedish. Also, Swedish television broadcasts Hollywood movies in its original language with a Swedish subtitle. This may be why the Swedish can pronounce English like a native speaker,f

I said to Julia, in Japanese. As I had already learned a little Swedish, I knew the vocabulary was similar to German language, and its grammar was similar to English.

eI donft think movies are the reason,f

Julia retorted in English.

eThey show Hollywood movies in Japan with subtitles, yet the Japanese only read the subtitles and donft try to understand the English.f

With this, I had to admit that she was right.


Our coach was now driving on the motorway crossing lots of lakes. As we approached to Stockholm, we could see more and more houses and buildings. The coach arrived at a bus terminal next to the Central Station just before noon.


At the Central Station we had to change our money to Krona, as Sweden had not adopted the Euro currency. From the station we walked to the hotel, which was in the middle of the city and facing a market place. The hotel itself was only on the third floor and above; the floors below were used as shops.


After having a short break in our hotel room, we went out to the city. We could borrow bicycles from the hotel but we decided to walk, as I thought we could see the city better this way. We walked alongside the shopping street, Drottninggatan, to the direction of the Old Town. I was impressed by the cleanliness of the streets and buildings. As we were walking down the shopping street, Julia looked like she was looking for something special.