Mamma, please pass the knäckebröd, tack!:
Bilingual families swap tips, stories on the Internet

Many of kulturCHOCK!'s readers are hopelessly trapped between two cultures, due to their marriage to a person from an exotic foreign country whose customs are not always easy to understand. What do these readers tend to do with disturbing frequency? Reproduce themselves! They are not content to live their own lives in confusion, not knowing when to wear their shoes indoors or whether or not they should greet a stranger on the street; they knowingly bring a live creature into this world who not only has both countries in its heart, but in its genes as well!

Case in point: Niklas. Half Swedish, half Yank. Or rather 11/16 Swedish, since his father is 3/8 Swedish (nobody said this would be uncomplicated, Nikke).

How do you raise such a child to be able to speak to both sets of grandparents? How do the parents decide which language(s) to speak at home? How do you keep your child from speaking Swenglish, Swengelska, (or both!), when you yourself mix up the languages into an incomprehensible linguistic pytt-i-panna?

Ta det lugnt! Help has arrived (just in time, Niklas) in the form of the Bilingual Families Web Page and its companion, the Bilingual Families Mailing List.

This noble project is the work of Cindy Kandolf, a Pennsylvanian who found herself, through no fault of her own, in Trondheim, Norway, married to a nice Norwegian and with a little boy named Kenneth. Cindy has turned her interest in languages and in her own son into a resource that many kulturCHOCK! readers will find most useful.

The Bilingual Families Web Page is Cindy's own collection of information about bilingualism. It contains lots of basic information about the ways that different families handle two or more languages. It also includes pointers to literature and resources for the bilingual family. The main topics it covers are:

As good as the Web page is, the really useful part of Cindy's work is hosting the Bilingual Families Mailing List. People from all over the world participate in this discussion group by e-mail. All of them have one thing in common: they are raising children bilingually or are bilingual themselves. They regularly share tips and debate various approaches to different problems they face in a two-language environment. The really interesting thing about this discussion is that the problems are exactly the same, regardless of the combination of languages involved. Speakers of dozens of different languages take part.

To subscribe to the Bilingual Families Mailing List:

-David Curle

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