How long have you been teaching at AS?
I believe I began teaching the fall of 1974. It was the precursor to Svenska Skolan and was for kids between 8 and 14. Classes were held Saturday morning, and no real text book was used, so it was all just pictures, words and songs. This went on for a couple of years before I moved on to teaching adults. The book then was Svenska för Er, one of the first SFI books that I was ever aware of. I used huge stack of overhead projector transparencies for both classes.
How did you learn Swedish/what is your connection to Sweden?
At age 17, I was a Rotary International exchange student in Huskvarna, Småland, for the 1969-1970 school year. The Vietnam War was raging (Sweden was strongly against it), the Soviet Union had recently invaded Czechoslovakia, and Cold War tensions were intense. I knew no Swedish and relatively little about Sweden upon arrival, and my instructions were to be a goodwill ambassador. Luckily for me, I had wonderful host families, one of which I especially bonded with and I remain very close to my Swedish siblings to this day. Like many other exchange students, at the end of that first year I was dissatisfied with my Swedish but in love with the country, so I studied two years of Swedish at the U of M and then returned for a year at Uppsala Universitet. That second year really honed my Swedish language skills and cemented my relationship with the country. Thank you, Rotary and Uppsala!
How would you describe your teaching style?
Complete immersion is the best teaching method around but is impossible outside of Sweden, so I focus on building a foundation of grammar and vocabulary so that when one arrives in Sweden, it is easy to pick up conversation skills by speaking with Swedes. Also, I firmly believe the axiom, “You can’t understand the language until you understand the culture; and you can’t understand the culture until you understand the language”, so I include much about Swedish culture in class.
What is your favorite Swedish word and why?
Everyone says this, but it has to be lagom. It not only is a useful word but it fully describes the Swedish psyche.