I’m a Swede, I live in Sweden, I work in Sweden and I raise a family in Sweden.
I do have one foot in the US, where I’ve got my best friend and a part of my family.
We try to visit often at least once a year.
My English is fluent we usually starts to learn English in daycare here, my youngest kids, two boys 7 and 9 are bilingual.
They divide their time and their words equally between Swedish and English, just like the rest of my family.
Almost all TV we watch here is US made, subtitled to Swedish. We talk to our friends and family in English almost everyday. We write, talk and breathe English.
The boys also have some friends from England so they use it in school outside their English class too.
Struggling With Two Languages
The downside though is that sometimes when you are bilingual and need to handle multiple languages you start to forget words – not in one language but in both.
If you are bilingual or have two native languages you’ll soon start to say words in the first language and end up using both languages equally.
It doesn’t matter how much you practice it will happen anyway.
I don’t know how many times I’ve been forced to translate for school teachers or daycare crews. One time they were talking about fruits and not one of the teachers understood the word “pineapple,” although my 7 year old tried to explain it.
Even if a lot of Swedes do speak and learn English in school, some of the older citizens haven’t and that was the case here.
On the other hand I doubt that the boys’ generation will have problem with it.
And I thank screen time a lot for that.
The Right Amount of Screen Time
My kids play or watch videos on their phones or on Chromecast to the TV almost everyday. Yep, I know what your thinking: “That can’t be a good thing, right?”
Let me be honest: we are an outdoorsy family. My boys knows how to make fire, how to survive in the woods, how to build things and how to cook.
They live to be outdoors playing.
You’ve probably heard all the comments like “Screen time isn’t good for your kids!”
I am a freelance writer and a stay-at-home mom. I get up early everyday, pack my sons’ bags, make them breakfast, walk them to school, pick them up when school is over and help them with homework.
You know, the good old fashion way to do it.
But none of that affects the amount of screen time they have.
Just as I like to talk to my friends on social media, play some kind of game on my device, read the local (paper form) newspaper or watch the news a few minutes (maybe an hour) everyday, the boys likes to play on their device or watch a YouTube video.
It doesn’t make them stupid – it doesn’t stop them from reading a book, it doesn’t give them a hard time to focus and it sure doesn’t stop them from going outdoors when the weather is nice.
In fact it helps them, it teaches them things.
Making the Most of Screen Time
Since a lot of things on the interest are in English – games, videos, learning apps – having access to screen time helps to keep their English level up.
When the boys play, usually they play Minecraft where they’ve created their own world and they play in it together. When they play they do it in English, they get instructions in English, they write signs in English and they yell things to each other on English (when playing in separate rooms).
When they watch a YouTube video about how to play Minecraft or how to do just about anything they like such as building Lego, making craft, and so on, it’s in English without any subtitles.
And when they are about to explain the video or give instructions to me on how to do what they did in the video they are going to do it in English.
No matter how hard the school tries, to learn a language and keep it you have to use it everyday. No matter how much English I talk to my boys, I’m still gonna do it with a Swedish accent.
Their screen time gives them the possibility to listen to native English speakers all over the world, help them understand, teach them new words and make sure they keep their second language so it won’t get lost in a non-English speaking country.
It helps them to open the world.
Letting kids have unlimited screen time just because the parents don’t have the time or energy to hang out with their children is one thing. Controlled screen time for a little bit each day is another thing.
I dare to allege that it’s an amazing thing and a great possibility.
The new technology is our friend, not our enemy. It’s here to bring us closer and to make the world appear as small as it really is.
Embrace it, use it, and make sure to learn something from it.
It’s going do you good, just as it does for my boys.