Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How do you keep up your native language when living abroad?

For a freelance translator living outside the country where they speak my native language, it is imperative that I work hard on keeping up my native language skills. I have several Swedish friends who are not doing that and they start sounding very "Swenglish" after a while, not to mention the writing. How do you keep up your language when living abroad? Here are some ways I do this:

1. Speak my language at home and with Swedish friends every day.
2. Read Swedish books. We have even started a Swedish book club where we read and discuss Swedish books, written by Swedish or Nordic authors.
3. Read Swedish newspapers and industry journals online every day or at least several times a week.
4. Listen to Swedish radio while working. ;-)
5. I am not much of a TV watcher, but I am grateful to be able to watch some Swedish TV-programs online every now and then.
5. Last, but not least. Travel back to Sweden as often as possible. I try to go once a year and stay for a month. Unfortunately Sweden is quite far away from Utah, US and the trip is expensive. It is also very important to me to bring my children when I go so they can keep up their second native language.

One thing that will really help is my husbands sabbatical year in two years. He is a professor at the university and will get a sabbatical year every 7 years. Then we will go to Sweden and live there for a year and a half. I am so looking forward to this, but my children not so much. Perhaps because they will be 14 and 12 then and it is a sensitive time in their life. But I know that in retrospect it will all be good for all of us.

Do you think this is working? I do. However, just to make sure, I also have a native Swedish proofreader living in Sweden that I work with. Are there any freelance translators out there reading this that are not living in their native country? How do you keep up your language skills?

1 comment:

  1. After five years of living outside Finland, my native country, I sometimes detect Estonian-isms (that's where I live now) creeping into my speech.

    In general, however, I haven't noticed any difficulty in keeping up with the developments of the Finnish language, using much the same methods as you do.

    It also helps that I'm a copywriter, so I'm constantly writing in my native language as well.