Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Trilingual me

As I have described before Zoe is growing up trilingual, except of course ironically she is strongest in Danish and English, because she is in an English speaking daycare and the only one who actually speaks Swedish to her is our Swedish friend and her occasional babysitter. In fact I am very happy to hear just how much Danish she picked up when we spent two weeks there over Christmas. She still mixes the languages and always says 'not' and 'like' in English. "Zoe not like fyrværkeri" [fireworks] was a classic around new years. I'm very aware that her lack in Swedish reflects my attitude to that language, a language that I should easily be able to master, but which I genuinely hate speaking (I don't mind reading it so much, I don't articulate words in my head, I merely comprehend them and move on).

Working in a cafe after chores in the morning, I wondered how my Swedish aversion in combination with our international lifestyle will prevent Zoe from learning any Swedish of significance. But they are not helping us. At this Södermalm cafe they serve the food, calling out the dishes in English. People switch to English when I attempt to speak Swedish with the statement that I have an American accent. I'm still utterly useless in Swedish small talk and it is not getting any better, I mainly just keep quiet. If I can't even do trilingual myself, how am I to expect that Zoe will? I have hired a Swedish tutor to try to learn a bit more and get more confidence. I'm meeting her next Monday for the first time and she seemed nice on the phone. "I can already tell now what we need to work with you on" she said in a teacherly tone. I look forward to that. Perhaps Zoe should join me.

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