We translators all agree on the critical importance of reading text in our working languages in order to keep our skills fresh and learn new vocabulary. However, along with reading comprehension, a good dash of oral comprehension skills never hurts. While language instruction tapes definitely have their place in that regard, “real world” oral exposure to our languages of interest is even better yet. You can gain such exposure by conversing with native speakers or, alternatively, you can simply tune in to your favorite Scandinavian radio station.
How do I do that? you may be asking yourself. The foreign-language stations operating in my community are all in Spanish, and I can’t afford the cost of a plane ticket to Sweden or Denmark where my languages are being transmitted.
Not to worry. Thanks to the Internet, live access to Scandinavian radio stations is just a couple mouse clicks away. The links providing access to these stations are available courtesy of the website “listenlive.eu: European radio stations streaming live on the Internet.”
Just for fun, I decided to investigate the web page listing radio stations in Sweden, home to a few still living relatives on my mother’s side of the family. Accordingly I found and bookmarked the URL http://www.listenlive.eu/sweden.html. The page turned out to contain 93 entries for Swedish stations, with certain standard information covering each. First came the name of the radio station. A click on the link for each name produced a page with text providing station background information, news features, program descriptions and even “Lyssna igen” links to certain previously recorded broadcasts. Next in the station listing came the location. A number of stations had their home in Stockholm, though many other cities boasted representation, including Malmö, not far from where my Swedish relatives live. (One station was available on the Internet only.) Third, a choice of two or three “kbps” links appeared from which one could choose when selecting a station to listen to.* Last, under the heading of “Format/Comments,” one could look over the genres of the stations, which between them covered categories such as “news/features,” “classical/cultural,” “Swedish pop,” and “regional programme,” among others.
In the course of selecting stations to try out, I noticed an interesting phenomenon. It is not uncommon for “Swedish pop” or “regional programme” stations to play songs in English as well as Swedish. A click on the Malmö-based “Gamla Godingar” oldies station produced a similar result. I heard a number of familiar rock tunes that had been popular in the U.S. from the 1960s to the 1980s. The station even played a song by Janice Joplin. I surmise that the English-language hits may be meant to appeal to young to middle-aged listeners who, since the end of World War II, have increasingly learned English through the public schools.
All these familiar tunes were fine and well, I thought, but what about getting exposure to Swedish? Apart from the Swedish-language announcements occurring between English-language songs, I found two stations that are especially strong in this area. One, the Stockholm-based “Sveriges Radio P1,” falls into the “news/features” category. While not airing much music — at least during the times I tuned in — it is nonetheless an ideal place for hearing Swedish-language interviews of book authors and other important personages, as well as dramatic performances. As a typical example of the latter, I listened in on a brief segment of the “Radioteatern” program featuring an episode from the play “Lolita” — also in Swedish, of course.
Another station ideal for Swedish listening exposure proved to be “Sveriges Radio P2,” also based in Stockholm. Though billed as a “classical/cultural” station and boasting its share of unsung stringed instrumental pieces, it turns out this station has at least some music not strictly in the classical category. The “Live Världens Liv Program,” airing weekly on Sunday evenings from 8 – 9:30 p.m. Stockholm time, regularly features folk and traditional music, sung to Swedish lyrics. When listening to the latest segment of this, I was treated to a previously recorded folk festival that had taken place last summer in Småland. The music group performing on that occasion was the Ulrika Gunnarsson Trio.
In the midst of all this oral Swedish exposure, I admittedly found oral comprehension a bit of a challenge, possibly due to the fact that my ears aren’t as accustomed to oral Swedish as they are to Spanish. However, I look forward to honing my comprehension skills on future listening occasions.
Those working with languages other than Swedish can rest assured that other Scandinavian countries also enjoy radio representation at this site. The country listings on the home page (http://www.listenlive.eu/) include Denmark, Iceland, and Norway, as well as many other European countries.
*I determined which listening link worked best on my Windows XP-based laptop mainly by trial and error. When successful in my link selection, I nonetheless found that patience paid off since, even with my DSL connection, I often had to wait a few seconds to hear sound as the station’s streaming audio file completed its download.
Cindy Coan [firstname.lastname@example.org]