The Bilingual Bookshop is delighted that we are now offering Bilingual By Music’s Kids’ Songs in Swedish and English for sale on our website. We met Kristin Hellberg, Co-Founder of Bilingual By Music to find out about her inspiration for this catchy double CD and to get to know the bilingual family behind the idea.
Tell us about the evolution of Bilingual By Music
The idea of a bilingual album came to me when my son started English nursery school where he was taught the traditional English nursery rhymes. It hit me that these songs were the same that I had learnt as a child in Sweden. I felt that I really wanted him to know them in Swedish just as well, so I made sure we sang the same songs at home, but in Swedish. However, with all these traditional songs there are so many different versions and arrangements to listen to. I wanted to have the same versions so he could hear they are actually the same songs, just in different languages.
The idea of creating this kind of product started growing back in 2010. In 2012 the actual company, Bilingual By Music Ltd was registered by myself and my colleague Guy James. Guy is also Executive Producer of MaKiNG Records and head of Creative Development at Access Artiste Management in London. His input and advice have been invaluable to me and in helping Bilingual By Music become established.
We have many exciting ideas in the pipeline. We would love to expand and do more languages and themes. So far we have Swedish-English and Danish-English. We are currently working on a Swedish-English Christmas version.
Often bilingual families try to keep the two languages separate – why did you decide to feature Swedish and English together?
When you place the Swedish and the English songs and lyrics next to each other you really get to see the similarities between the two cultures. The quirky illustrations by Åsa Wikman further highlight their close relationship. I think it can be helpful to point out the similarities as well as the differences.
I also think music can be a fantastic tool in language learning. Music has rhythm, structures and rules just like languages. Language learning involving music can be a fun way of repeating words and understanding concepts. Its also a great way remembering new words.
Can you tell us a bit about your own family’s bilingual journey?
Both my husband and I are Swedish, so it’s very natural for us to speak Swedish at home. It’s also important to us that we can talk to our 3 kids in Swedish, so it is our family language at home.
Since we live in London and the children go to English speaking schools, they are very much exposed to English every day. We try our best to “promote” Swedish and Sweden to them as much as possible. It’s not always easy though. We often find that they speak English with each other when they play together on their own for example.
What are your thoughts on bilingualism?
I think it’s absolutely fascinating and I really enjoy reading about bilingualism and how it all works. There is so much interesting research that is being done as well. I feel very grateful thatmy children have the opportunity to become bilingual.
If you could send a message to our readers to inspire their own bilingual adventures, what would it be?
Try to expose yourself and the children to the minority language as much as you can. Read books, listen to music and songs, watch films, use playful apps. Also try to embrace the culture, which for Swedes would include Midsummer, Lucia playing traditional games such as ‘Bro Bro Breja’ and enjoy the Swedish food traditions such as Semlor, våfflor, leverpastej etc.
You can find out more about Kristin and Bilingual By Music by following her here:
As well as The Bilingual Blog, Kristin recommends the following sites for Swedish families and for information on bilingualism: