(Closed) How do you deal with language difficulties?

posted 6 years ago in Family
Post # 3
3785 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

Have you talked to them about this? My ex’s parents did not speak English (Spanish), and my parents do not speak Spanish, so it was always amusing when they got together. They would use gestures, etc to communicate, and we would end up doing a lot of translating (tiring!).

Do FI’s parents even know that they are not using simple-enough english and talking slow enough? Some people need to be taught to do this, even though it seems obvious. Have you brought up to your parents that you would like them to attempt to speak more English around Fiance and his family so everyone feels included? Or do they just refuse?

Post # 4
9139 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 2013 - St. Augustine Beach, FL

Maybe have your husband try out Rosetta Stone so he can learn Swedish and participate in the conversations more?  A conversation with your mother to remind her that it’s rude to exclude your FH from conversations by speaking only in Swedish as well as refusing to speak to her in Swedish in front of your FH until she gets it may also help.

As for the parents, I wouldn’t worry about it.  They are only going to be in the same room only a few times over the next few decades so if they choose not to communicate with each other, unfortunately there really isn’t anything you can do about it.

Post # 6
1478 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2013 - Creek club at ion, SC

Lol …. this is what I do with my chidren that I teach English to


You sit them both down. Theyll try talking to you in your language but you always respond in English. Make an effort to make both sides feel relevant and to get their attention by talking in English about interesting Swedish things and Canadian things so each side feels equal and valued.


If one side is being rude gently ignore and change the subject, keep smiling. Make sure you put on an united front with your SO. 


Often enough this will make them make an effort to speak in English.

Post # 9
1478 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2013 - Creek club at ion, SC

@eocenia:  yea I think youre right… Good luck, im sure it will work out xxx

Post # 10
2874 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: March 2013

@eocenia:  to be honest, it probably would have gone a long way if your fi had made a serious effort to learn swedish. it sounds like hes picked up a few words, but not much. and i get that he works long hours…but it would be a big gesture of respect and good willing

i would talk to your parents and ask them to try to talk english and make an effort with fi’s parents. id then ask fi to talk to his parents and ask them to make an effort

i get its hard, im english and fi is from mexico and neither of our parents spoke the other language. my mum started taking spanish lessons (as did i) and his parents make an effort to communicate as well

Post # 11
1848 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: April 2015

I had a Swedish friend when I was a teen. She was from Trollhattan and was so kind about me not knowing the language. My point is…the language is tough! I don’t blame your Fiance for not being exactly advanced in the language.

I have a Chinese family and I never learned the language, so a lot of my childhood consisted of family speaking AT me, me being confused, and my mother translating for me. Awk. Now I do not respond unless they try to speak to me at least in some sort of breaking English. (Most of them do speak English!) I don’t think it’s rude…I think it’s fair to me since I can stay in the conversation.

Your mom may wish to speak with you in the native language…that’s what calling cards are for and Skype! She can wear herself out in Swedish through those modes and speak with your Fiance in English. I’m totally not one of those ‘This is ‘Merica, speak English or get out!’ but it seems like your Fiance feels some discomfort and shouldn’t be penalized for not being bilingual. Maybe he’ll get there, but until then…

Post # 13
4 posts

Rosetta Stone is awesome! My boyfriend speaks Swedish pretty well now 🙂

Post # 14
269 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: February 2013

This is a tough situation. Swedish and English are both Germanic languages, so at least it’s easier to learn than a language that’s from a different family, but that said it’s really hard to learn a second language, especially if you only speak one langauge. Does your Fiance also speak French? If so, it might help him to learn a 3rd because at least he’s familiar with a few problems that come up with learning a language.

I had to learn FI’s language, and it was really, really, really hard but I put in a lot of work, I have to say. Father-In-Law doesn’t speak much English, so now they all speak to me in FI’s langauge and I can have conversations with them. But I totally get what you mean with parents: Father-In-Law has to speak English to mom and dad and he struggles a bit, but they manage. I’m guessing your parents live in Sweden though, so it’s probably not so often they meet up anyway? But I know, it must be very frustrating for you 🙁

What about a private tutor for FI? That might help him learn much faster; he doesn’t have to learn the entire language, but just a little more so he can follow along when people are talking? I found cue cards helped a lot too. Can you also maybe supplement a couple Swedish words here and there into when you speak to Fiance so he can just get a couple more in his vocab?

Also, for the wedding, can you enlist any bilingual friends that can help with the translating load? Sit a couple at each table of visitors from Sweden to make their load a little easier, or try mixing 1/2 Swedish tables with Canadian guests and let them make their own conversation – and they will, don’t worry! Father-In-Law made a whole speach in German and the best man translated for everyone! Also, you can make up the menus in both languages, and perhaps try to encourage mom to speak a bit of English before the wedding, just to help practice for when she comes? We even had the ceremony in both langauges, so everyone could follow along; can your priest/celebrant do that, or can you at least have a friend do a reading in Swedish?

You will be fine, don’t worry. Your wedding doesn’t need a specific langauge to be special, and trust me, it’ll be special for all your guests, no matter their mothertongue! And your mom will get used to the fact that your Fiance is Canadian and she probably has to speak English to him – there are lots of students and international people in Stockholm and such these days, so I guess she’s probably a little used to it.

I hope this helps a little bit, or at least makes you feel a little better in that you’re not alone and other people have been through this too! And I LOVE the Swedish language and Sweden – I have heaps of Swedes at work, and I keep inviting myself over there for Midsummer and I just might make it one of these years! Also your Glögg, ginger biscuits, and cinnamon rolls are to die for – surely they can encourage FI’s Swedish along a bit?? ;D

Post # 16
130 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

@eocenia: My Fiance is Australian and I’m Swedish. I can’t say I’ve had the same problem as you in terms of family communication (my parents happily speak English when he’s around as they’ve lived in the UK, and my older brother is an English teacher), so can’t provide too much advice there. However I do know how you’re feeling about your Fiance not speaking any Swedish.

Fiance and I have been together for 8 years, and his Swedish is very basic (he never learnt any second language at school). We did spend a year in Stockholm together many years ago, and he took Swedish classes then, but it has definitely deteriorated since moving back to Australia. It normally doesn’t really worry me, but I’m a bit concerned when it comes to having kids in the future. Clearly I would like our children to be bilingual, and I’m not sure how that will work if I speak Swedish to the kids and he can’t follow what we’re talking about. Is this something you’ve ever thought about? (Given you’re planning on having kids, that is!)

We’re also getting married in Sweden this summer by the way, and our entire ceremony and reception will be held in English.

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