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Scandinavian Program

The Scandinavian Languages

The Scandinavian languages include Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic (and Old Norse), and Faroese. Like English and German, they belong to the group of languages called Germanic that share a linguistic ancestor and many everyday words. Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian in their standard forms are mutually intelligible; that is, a person who knows one of the languages can read and understand the others with little difficulty. Language students benefit from this fact, since with just a bit of extra effort they can acquire (at least passively) two more languages "for free."

The Scandinavian languages are ideal for learning as a foreign language. They all have quite simple grammatical structures; verbs, for example, do not change their form within a given tense. The comparatively uncomplicated grammar, combined with word recognition carry-over from English, enables students to make rapid progress and attain fluency. Those with previous exposure to German have a further advantage, since there are many additional cognates.

The Scandinavian program offers two languages on a regular basis. Swedish is taught in the sequence SCAN 101-104 (beginning to intermediate) and SCAN 494 (advanced). SCAN 101, 103, and 494 are offered in fall semesters, with 102 and 104 in spring. The program tries to offer 101 and 102 regularly during the first part of summer sessions as well. 

The program also offers Old Norse—the language of Icelandic Vikings—in the SCAN 505-506 sequence for graduate students and advanced undergraduates.

Some students enrolled in Swedish classes have chosen to study the language because their ancestors emigrated from Scandinavia and they wish to explore their ethnic heritage. Others learn the language as part of a Study Abroad experience, have traveled in Scandinavia, or have some other personal connection to Sweden. Students interested in medieval culture may find Old Norse particularly rewarding. Students of German sometimes elect to study Swedish because of the close linguistic relation. Still other students want to have access to the rich national literatures of the Scandinavian countries, or are interested in Scandinavian design or Scandinavian politics and social policy.

There are many opportunities for students to study a Scandinavian language abroad or during the summer. For more information, contact Professor Anna Westerstahl Stenport aws@illinois.edu

Scandinavian Language Courses taught at the University of Illinois

SCAN 101 (First semester Swedish, fall) Beginning Scandinavian I

SCAN 102 (Second semester Swedish, spring) Beginning Scandinavian II

SCAN 103 (Third semester Swedish, fall) Intermediate Scandinavian I

SCAN 104 (Fourth semester Swedish, spring) Intermediate Scandinavian II

SCAN 494 (Advanced Swedish) Topics in Scan Languages

SCAN 505 (Beginning Old Norse) Old Norse-Icelandic I

SCAN 506 (Continuing Old Norse) Old Norse-Icelandic II

Language Learning Resources

Information about Sweden