sprigs & sprogs

Third time lucky
February 11, 2014, 23:39
Filed under: Australia, Expat, language, Thoughts

I have been what you can call a traveler, expat, immigrant, outsider (sometimes it feels that way) since I left school and went on my first adventure to the big city London.  Since then I have traveled the world and settled in Portugal. Six years and two kids later, the time has come, to see if “Home” is on the other side of the world, Australia…

It was not an easy decision, after all, it is on the other side of the world, far away from everything I know… Sure I have traveled, around Europe, to the States, South America and Africa. But never to “the other side”.

A great adventure is about to begin…we are excited… I have no rose-tinted glasses on, I know it is not easy to move to a new country and start from scratch, but we have one advantage, we have done it before. And this time it will be in a country were we understand the language.

I am a great believer in; ” When in Rome, do as the Romans…” So I try my best in embracing the culture and customs. But I believe the beauty about have had the opportunity to live in more than one country, is that you always take some new traditions and customs with you when you leave.

I like to think with knowing more cultures and customs, you become a more adaptable and accepting person.

September = Schoolstart
September 22, 2011, 23:36
Filed under: Expat, Kids, language, postaweek2011, school

September is nearly over! And we have had the best two weeks of the summer, blue skies and summer heat. Loving it!

My big boy started school this month, can’t believe I have a child going to “proper” school already. It’s a big deal, but I think more of a big deal for me than for him. He loves it, has already made new friends and he’s excited about having homework!

His school is so nice and his books looks like so much fun, I wish I could join him. Would do wonders for my Portuguese . I have got myself a little Portuguese grammar book, just for me. Decided I wanted to show everybody that you can teach old dogs to sit!

One thing I struggle understanding, is why do the children in Primary go longer days than the children in secondary school ? Is it so it can work as an childcare option at the same time. As the Secondary students would be able to look after themselves? Back in Sweden the children finish around lunch time. But saying that, my son just loves school, and even on the later pick-ups, he asks me if he can not stay just a tiny weeny little bit longer.

I have been so worried about my son’s school start, not for his sake though, as he is a very sociable little guy, but for my sake, am I going to be able to help him, am I going to be able to get a good contact with his teacher… One thing I have learnt this month is, relax, it is never going to be as difficult as you make it out to be. So far so good!

Is 2011 going according to your plan?
June 6, 2011, 19:39
Filed under: Beach, Health, Kids, language, positive, postaweek2011, Thoughts

Just about half way through 2011, what have you got to show for this year so far?

I was thinking of that the other day. My plan was to be positive about it, BUT, instead my thoughts started… I have not done this and that I planned at the beginning of the year. So I decided to start again, and look at what I ACTUALLY have done instead, and then suddenly it didn’t look so bleak after all. So what if I have not started a new career or bought a house with a garden. I have regained my fitness levels, although not my waist goal and I have learnt some more Portuguese. The best part of it all, I have been watching my kids grow a bit older, learning new things and playing together and I have shared this with my husband. And the beautiful times you have as a family, beats all the “BIG” goals. Somewhat bitter-sweet, as we would love to have more of these moments with our extended families too…

The last week my boys have been so giggly and I just love to hear them laugh… That is the best medicine to absolutely everything. And I think all parents will agree on this one.

We had one of those idyllic days on the beach this weekend, a happy smiling all play and games family…. No fighting over who is going to have what towel, not too much sand throwing. Could not have been better, a little treasured memory, that you will remind yourself of when the rain is pouring and you are all getting cabin fever and the bickering starts.

I like to believe that what happens is meant to be, but not in the sense that you will just sit on your bum and wait for things to happen. More in the way that you come to a cross-road, and the road you choose is the path for you, easy or hard. Like you are handed a set of tasks, then it’s up to you to decide how you are going to deal with them.

So here’s to another six month filled with laughter, surprises, everyday stuff and a step closer to your “big goals”.


I want to be fluent too…
May 19, 2011, 20:53
Filed under: Expat, Kids, language, postaweek2011, school

This weekend I overheard my two-year old having a proper conversation with an older friend in Portuguese. I was so impressed! I knew that he knows a lot of words and he always respond in the correct way when spoken to in Portuguese. But this was something else…

I am so proud. But now I need my kids to be proud of me too. I understand more and more, reading Portuguese is getting easier by the day, with help of kids books like Ruca and Elle Magazine! My next step would be to read an adult fiction book.

I mentioned in an earlier blog that my eldest son is starting school in September and that I am very nervous about my ability to help him with his school work. This weekend we went for an open day at the school. After about 20 minutes, my son was happily joining the children in all the activities.

While I did not understand everything that was said, especially not the jokes, i felt at ease. So now I do feel a bit more relaxed about this big change in our lives. I can also see the potential in learning along side my son. If only I could sit in on the afternoon lessons…

My big issue is to not dare to speak, beyond the phrases I now feel familiar with. I also get so overwhelmed when there are lots of people talking… I can give you an example; Friday night I went to a school meeting (Yip, Friday night at 9:00pm). All the parents are setting up a little show for the summer party at the nursery. I followed the conversation quite well…but then suddenly everyone started to talk at the same time. That’s when my brain switches off. Then that’s it, I’m lost! Luckily my son’s teacher is great and helps me as much as she can.

I need to speak more…or else I will not get any braver… And that would be a shame as my boys are such masters at Portuguese.

So my next challenge is to read an ADULT FICTION BOOK in Portuguese. Will keep you posted on the progress.

When your kids language skills exceeds yours…
March 7, 2011, 22:57
Filed under: Expat, Kids, language, postaweek2011, school
To raise bi-lingual kids is fantastic, but how many languages are too much? What is the best technique? Should I always speak my mother tongue with them?

And the fear of not being able to keep up with their language skills, and wake up one day and not understanding what they say!!!

My first son was born six years ago, at the time I had good intentions of raising him to be a bi-lingual child, speaking both English and Swedish fluently. I read loads of articles about raising bi-lingual children. Singing and reading for my son in Swedish at every opportunity… But with time it fizzled out, as I felt guilty speaking Swedish to my son, when my husband would not understand. It just felt wrong. So the Swedish my son was and is exposed to is mainly music and story books.  And of course the times when we go to family in Sweden or have visits from Sweden.

When he was two and a half we moved from England to Portugal, and he was now about to be exposed to a third language, which neither my husband nor myself had mastered.

To leave him at nursery the first couple of months were very hard for me, although his teacher spoke English. But he looked so small and vulnerable among all his new Portuguese friends. In the end my husband had to take him to nursery in the morning, as my worry rubbed off on him, and he started to get a bit anxious in the mornings. And with the switch, he started to relax and so did I. He stayed at this nursery for a year, as I wanted him to be around someone who spoke English until he felt comfortable with his new language.

Today he speaks Portuguese fluently, if it wasn’t for his blond hair he could probably be taken for a Portuguese. He has already acted as a translator for us many times. It’s a shame you don’t pick up languages as quickly as an adult. He loves to teach us new words or correct our pronunciation.

Since moving here we have had a second boy, who has not been as exposed to Swedish as my first, as he already had two languages to digest. He is now two and is already speaking some Portuguese and English.

My eldest knows phrases in Swedish, but he is not able to hold a conversation in Swedish. I am teaching my youngest Swedish phrases too.But when I read Swedish stories for him, he just looks at me and grins… Wonder what goes on in his head?

Do you think it’s too late to start a Swedish day, when I only speak Swedish to them?  I would love advice on this, as I would love for them to speak Swedish. But as I am finding Portuguese such a challenge, I worry that it would be too much for them?

Most bi-lingual children I have come across here, understand both languages, but will only speak one of them….Is this the norm?

As my son is heading off to first grade this year, I have started to worry about my own Portuguese skills. There will be home-work!  But also with time he will bring friends home, what if I can’t understand what they are talking about…

These are little fears of mine, and what spurs me on to learn Portuguese, my children’s everyday language.

Mission Impossible?
November 23, 2010, 21:04
Filed under: Expat, Kids, language

I arrived here at the Silver coast in Portugal just over three years ago. In my mind I would be fluent after three years for sure. I was a bit ignorant to how hard Portuguese is and how it varies from area to area… I though because I was fluent in two languages, plus basic knowledge in a further two this would be a walk in the park.  Never underestimate a language, that’s my big lesson after three years.

A sea of balls.

Don’t get me wrong, I do understand a lot and I can read the paper and magazine. Maybe not to the point where I understand every single detail, but I’m getting the story.

But ask me to ask a person for something and I clam up and all the words that appear in my head are Swedish or English. Of late I have become a bit more adventures. Decided to put a bit more effort in.

My son who is five years old is fluent, it sounds fabulous to me. Many of our Portuguese friends tells me he speaks very well, which is very handy as although his young age, he has already had to step in and translate!

My little baby is also growing up, nearly two and already has a Portuguese vocabulary. I’m trying to keep up, don’t want to wake up one day and realize that my kids are fluent in a language I don’t understand…

So that’s my mission, to become fluent in Portuguese, well at least semi-fluent.

Watch this space…