Jersey City, New Jersey, located on the Hudson River opposite the lower part of Manhattan in New York, offers fabulous views of, among other things, One World Trade Center. This is where the Swedish School in New Jersey organized the networking conference for 48 teachers and board members of 13 school associations in supplementary Swedish in North America.
In spite of talk of Tropical Storm Joaquin, participants traveled from far and wide, and the weather gods looked favorably at us as the storm went out to sea. The conference started in pouring rain with a reception on Friday evening in a classic brownstone house a few blocks from the Westin Hotel where everyone stayed. We had the privilege of renting premises at MORA, Museum of Russian Art, and thanks to that we had beautiful art to look at while we familiarized ourselves with each other.
During the evening we enjoyed a short presentation of SMUL ("Svenska som modersmål utomlands" or Swedish as mother tongue abroad) and BUS ("Barn Utomlands och Svenska språket" or Children Abroad and the Swedish language, a SWEA initiative) as well as background information about the requirements for certification of the supplementary Swedish education .
Before everyone left for the evening, - all received a bag filled with information about the weekend's conference as well as a few extra goodies: a knee tassel from Firefly, a small bag of Swedish candy from Sockerbit and a homemade cinnamon bun to celebrate Cinnamon Bun Day later that weekend.

Diverse resources
Saturday was spent in presentations, lectures by invited speakers and discussions. It was interesting to listen to Per-Olof Ottosson of the Swedish National School Agency (Skolverket), who also briefed us on – certifications of supplementary Swedish. Equally interesting were the delegates from SUF, Rolf Ornbrant and Jan Dackenberg, and Eva Hedencrona from the National Society Sverigekontakt (Sweden Contact). The speakers explained how the organizations work and the relationship with and assistance to the Swedish schools abroad that are involved in complementary Swedish education.
The dense program continued after a buffet lunch at nearby Fire and Oak restaurant. Sophia Ting Sell, PhD of Gothenburg University, spoke about today's Swedish language and offered insight into how it has changed and continues to evolve. It was particularly interesting for those of us who left Sweden many years ago and who may feel that our Swedish has become outdated, especially in terms of modern expressions and slang.
Anna-Eva Hallin, a licensed speech pathologist and teacher at New York University, spoke about linguistic learning difficulties in school aged children. We learned that students with language disorders, reading and writing or multilingual students often have particular difficulty with the language's form, but rarely difficulties with language use. She spoke of the importance of storytelling as a central part of communication and how it is made up of content, form and use. Hallin understands the dilemma for our school associations with teaching children of different ages with different levels of knowledge of the language.


The afternoon was devoted to workshops and group discussions that focused on topics the teachers and administrators are working on; so they worked in separate groups.
Sverigekontakt concluded the day with a book lottery, and everyone won a Swedish book! It was followed by dinner at Tilde, that evolved into a choral singing tribute to SUF which turns 40 this year, and a precursor to the upcoming 40th anniversary of the Swedish School in NJ. New Jersey Headmistress Gunhild Ljung was honored with a special version of "Här kommer Pippi Långstrump," called "Här kommer Gunhilds Tjejer." The evening also included a surprise lottery with Swedish DVDs, children's books and decorative tiles. A group of happy revelers spent a few sweaty hours after dinner with much needed exercise on the dance floor.

The next day, our last, murals were the first topic and almost all participants signed up early for a refreshing art walk. Jersey City has in recent years become known as a mecca for murals and artists have the support of local politicians. We saw three paintings by the Swedish artist Rubin 415, originally from Gothenburg, who now lives in Brooklyn. The goal of the Art Walk was to arouse interest in bringing arts into the school program and therefore everyone played adjectives bingo during the walk. An art book by Swedish artist Mathias van Arkel who temporarily works in Manhattan was the first prize.
After our walk we gathered at Battello restaurant for brunch. Sunday's theme was "a picture says more than a thousand words" and during brunch we listened to children's author and illustrator Lena Shiffman talk about how words and pictures work together. We also listened to Art Director Jesper Göransson who showed advertising images he had been engaged in developing.
The Swedish School in NJ would like to express its gratitude to all the participants, speakers and donors, and especially to the Skolverket, SUF, Sverigekontakt and the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation for making the weekend program possible!

SUF (Svensk Utlandsundervisnings Förening), the Association for Swedish Schools Abroad
is an interest organization that offers advice and economic support in competence development for teachers and board members that pursue supplemental Swedish education for children: Each child who has at least one Swedish parent and lives in a home where the Swedish language is kept alive and is a student at a Swedish supplementary school abroad, can receive a subsidy from the Swedish government. For children of families who are in the U.S. only temporarily, this is of course vital, since that child will later continue his or her education in Sweden. But even for children who will never live in Sweden, having a second language and meeting other children with the same language background is important. In the U.S. and Canada there are no full day Swedish schools (like there are German and French schools, for instance), which makes supplemental Swedish even more important.

Since children vary in age and competence, the teacher of supplemental Swedish has to be creative and very flexible. There is a special curriculum by the National School Agency to follow as well as a local working plan by the local school association No material made exclusively for these types of classes exist, so the teacher has to make her own lesson plans. The teachers teach not only the Swedish language, but about the Swedish society as well in order to help children find their Swedish identity
Teachers and administrators from these schools, with the support of the Skolverket, SUF and Riksföreningen Sverigekontakt now meet yearly to exchange thoughts and ideas. For more info, see