The Babbel Blog

language learning in the digital age

Portrait: Mireille from Lausanne

Posted on October 17, 2014 by

Portrait: Mirelle from Lausanne

We are launching a series of portraits of Babbel users – a snapshot of their lives, and the reasons why they are learning a new language. If you’d like to share your story, let us know in the comments. This month we spoke with Mireille, a 24-year old student from Switzerland who is learning Swedish for a very good reason – love.

My first encounter with Swedish was in school. When I was 16, I met my boyfriend… who was Swedish. We were together for five years. At home, his family often spoke Swedish amongst themselves, during meals or on the phone. I immediately fell in love with Swedish culture. It seemed to create such a warm, comforting ambience in the home. I loved listening to them speak a language which I didn’t understand at all, to hear them pronouncing sounds that I myself couldn’t make. At the time I just picked up a few words here and there without ever really committing myself to learning the language. It seemed hard and the pronunciation was so different to French.

When we broke up, I kept listening to Swedish music because I loved the sound of the language, but I still didn’t learn it. It was only later when I met my new boyfriend at the age of 21 that I decided to really give it a good go. And why? Well, would you believe it – my new boyfriend was from Sweden too! I realised I had a really strong attachment to this language and I was very happy to have found it again. So I decided to register with Babbel and to get going with the basics while also benefitting from classes with my own private teacher. Before I started studying, I couldn’t separate out the words or sentences when someone was speaking, or even grasp the general topic. But bit by bit, with a lot of perseverance, it got better…

I use Babbel on my iPhone just before I go to sleep or when I’m on the train to my classes. I commute for three to four hours each day, so I have the time. I do short 20-minute sessions every two or three days. Sometimes I write words or phrases that are difficult in a notebook because I’ve always found I retain things better when I write them down. I listen to Swedish music and watch original film versions. I try to talk to my boyfriend about the new things I’ve learned to practice my pronunciation. Sometimes I read Swedish children’s books that I found in my boyfriend’s old cupboard.

We’ve also travelled to Sweden so I’ve been able to use what I’ve learned. My boyfriend really makes an effort to help me – teaching me funny words, asking questions to help me revise things. He even wants to learn German, which is my second language.

Now I’m really into learning this language, motivated by the idea of really being part of my boyfriend’s family and identifying with Swedish culture, which I love. Sometimes I even imagine living in the north, and really speaking the language properly.


Want to share your story? Let us know in the comments!



I want to learn German so I can study cardiovascular medicine and be a surgeon. You can just start medical school without going to college and it’s cheaper because they don’t have many young people there.

My reasons for learning are very different, while travelling the world in recent years I realised just how fantastic the rest of the world is at speaking English and how bad the English are at any forgein languages at all!
Ever since my my first foreign trip to Germany as a 14 year old I have been intrigued by the language and culture and listened to a few German metal bands so German seemed like the obvious choice and I love it! Now 8 months in I really need to pluck up the courage to speak German (the best I can) to the next German person I meet which I seem to keep shying away from so far!
Keep learning and enjoy yourselves!

That’s exactly why I am learning Swedish. My boyfriend doesn’t know it though. I live in America. We met online. I plan on surprising him when I go to Sweden to see him in a few years. ^_^

It is beautiful to read these love encounters and the interest in using Babel, but I dare ask, would one get the same proficiency studying languages in such manner for professional use like a translator without a tutor? I need to know because I am interested in learning German and Spanish.

Hi Alexander – to get to a level where you can translate is pretty advanced. You’d certainly need additional training – most translators have university degrees or extensive experience with both languages. Babbel’s great to get you going, but after that you need to get to a much more advanced level if you want to use the language in a professional capacity. It would be worth checking out same translation services and asking what qualifications or experience they require.

I’m in a similar situation, I met my girlfriend while she was studying abroad in the US this past spring. I’m now learning Norwegian so that when I go to visit her family I am not completely lost in the conversation!

I come from British Columbia where French is not spoken. I found as wonderful woman in Quebec where French is the working language and would like to learn to speak it.

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