Too much faith in English.
When tourists visit Sweden, the first thing that strikes them is not how clean it is or how tall people are—no, it’s how well everyone speaks English. For decades, Swedish school children have been learning English from an early age (9), and it has proven a good age to commence a new language. But should you start even earlier? Folkpartiet (the Liberals) suggested making English language learning obligatory in schools from the first grade, but that proposal was slammed by several members of the Swedish Academy. The Academy’s permanent secretary Peter Englund and his predecessor Horace Engdahl stated that the proposal “is built on a simplified view of language learning, a false belief of the importance of English and is even an unnecessary reinforcement of the status of English in Sweden.” They argue there is no scientific evidence to prove that students master the language better if they start learning in the first grade, rather than the third or fourth grade. In addition they believe language learning is made easier if schoolchildren can read and write in their own language first. ”It could also create problems for many immigrant children in Sweden, who already have to switch between the mother tongue of their parents and Swedish,” they write. ”Schools must focus on many languages,” they add. ”The majority of bilateral contacts work best without having to resort to English, in accordance with the EU language policy." What do you think? Is it important that children learn many languages in school today?

Big Ball of Mystery.
Kai Wigh in Skeglinge, Skåne, received something unexpected in his yard with the storm the other night: a big ball of … what? Wigh and his wife heard a boom when an enormous ball came rolling into their backyard. “We were too scared to go look at it,” Wigh says, “because it kept moving in the wind.” It crashed into the flagpole, breaking it in halves, but thankfully missed the new car. Days later, it turned out the big ball of mystery belongs to a neighbor and is in fact a septic tank that should be underground. Exactly how far it traveled in the storm is a secret only the owner and Wigh know.

Elisabeth Söderström dies.
Swedish soprano Elisabeth Söderström, 82, an international opera star, died Nov. 20 in Stockholm of complications from a stroke, said her husband, Sverker Olow. Söderström made her debut in 1947 at the Drottningholm Palace Theater, singing in one of Mozart's lesser-known works. From 1949 to 1980, she performed at the Royal Swedish Opera, while frequently appearing at some of the largest opera houses in the world. She also recorded frequently. Between 1959 and 1964, Söderström was under contract with the Metropolitan Opera in New York. She returned during the period of 1983 through 1987. From 1993 to 1996, she was director of the Drottningholm Theater, where she had made her debut nearly 50 years earlier.

Meet Melinda Kinnaman.
Do you remember the cute little tomboy in Lasse Hallström’s masterpiece “My Life as a Dog”? The little girl who boxes? Of course you do! Well, she is not so little anymore. Melinda Kinnaman, that’s her real name, is 38 years old (she was 14 in “My Life…”) and she is a respected actress at Stockholm’s Dramaten Theater. When she isn’t doing something else, that is. Like traveling. Kinnaman likes going to places like India, Israel, Guatemala and South America. “I like to experience what’s original. It feels amazing to come to little villages where there are no white people. But at the same time I sometimes wonder: ‘What am I doing?’ ‘What is this good for?’” Kinnaman says she feels very privileged working at Dramaten. “I get to do great projects.” But the picture of Kinnaman as a vagabond seems more fitting than an image of a self-centered drama queen. Kinnaman is also very much a versatile actress, mixing spiritual journeys and acrobat lessons with circus artists with doing the classics on the stages of Dramaten. “It can sometimes be difficult to come back to Stockholm after having been abroad,” she explains. “I love Stockholm and I have all my friends and family here, but it’s not very inspiring and the ceiling’s quiet low. It’s all about what’s hip. At the same time I feel ‘oh, who cares?’ It’s really about your own attitude anyway.” Melinda Kinnaman can be seen in the play “Transit” by Ian Bruce at Dramaten.