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Friday, April 22, 2016

Simple way to motivate your bilingual child to speak your language.

When our family started the trilingual journey more than 6 years ago, I had no idea if I would succeed in passing my mother tongue onto my two children. I simply launched myself into this adventure. Now my kids are 4 and 6 years old and can speak, read and write in Russian, my mother tongue. I can not believe that I did all this work by myself. I set a goal - the maximum fluency level my children can possibly reach - and I went for it.

What is the recipe you might ask?

I believe being motivated yourself is a part of successfully raising bilingual /trilingual children,
as for the rest - just give your child what he enjoys the most and what he is interested in. Give it all in the minority language!

BABY ( 0-12 month)

What babies like is exactly what they need for starting learning the language you speak. They need face to face contact, mommy’s and daddy’s smiles, baby talk.

Talk to your baby all the time. Use simple sentences. Point to things and name them.

“Babies are taking statistics while listening to us” , as Particia Khul has noted in her TED talk. The test have proved that "It takes a human being (not audio or video!) for babies to take statistics!"  (7:08 minute of the video)

Read my article "Bilingualism and Speech Delay. How can you help? for more insights on this topic.

Here are some more tips:

The Best Way to Start Building Your Bilingual Child's Vocabulary

When to start reading to your baby? 

Virtual babysitters help

TODDLER (1-3 years old)

What do toddlers like? - They like being with their parents, play, sing, read books, draw and move. The are full of energy. You just need to direct it a way that works best for language learning and vocabulary development.

Incorporate teaching into play. It is not as difficult as it sounds. Do not associate word “teaching” here with a class room settings. Remember that at this age kids learn well while moving. Turn on a song or sing yourself. I am sure you have something similar to the English “head shoulders knees and toes” song. If not you can make up your own!

Here is how we had fun with the Russian “Wind is blowing in the face”.

Add more words when describing an object to your child. If he makes a mistake, correct it indirectly by simply rephrasing, repeating what the baby says.

Read as much as you can during this period. Select books on different subjects.

Would you like to know why your baby does not want to sit still while you are reading to him and what you could do about it? You will find some answers in
Your Toddler Doesn't Like to Read? article.

Teach letter sounds, too, especially, if you’d like your child to be literate in your language.

Here are 7 simple principles to keep in mind while teaching your child how to read

Watch this Video by Floating University lecture, Professor Steven Pinker , who is talking about the nature of language acquisition in children.

PRESCHOOLER (3-5 years old)

What does a preschooler want? Same as a toddler, but now he is ready to play with friends.

Bilingual Multilingual families Find a playdate in your languageIt would be great, if you could find a friend for your child that can also speak your minority language.
My kids play with each other speaking their minority language only. They often sing songs in other languages, but speak Russian all the time no matter who is around them. Read about 7 facts that can determine the language spoken between multilingual siblings

SCHOOL AGE (5-8 years old)

What do first graders like? - school experience is very new to them. They love writing in a pretty notebooks with pretty pan and pencils. Just use this opportunity to start a new routine. Get a notebook for your home language and “play school” at home.

My kids both 4 and 6 years old have a notebook for Russian, where they write stories, short and simple dictations. I take whatever they covered at school and use it as a base for our fun lessons. Yes, I invent lessons myself. It is not very difficult. These lessons do not have to be long.

Write notes to each other, shopping lists.

Read more books about animals, adventure.

Magazines and interactive games are something they are interested in. Have them available for your child in your language.

Travel, visit museums. Talk about things you see and experience together.

TWEENS (9-12 years old)

I am not quite there yet with my kids. I will add more details later.

Right now I can only assume, that they would like to spend even more time with the friends. Watch TV. I would watch together some news in the minority language on TV or online. They will probably already have a cell phone - it is a good idea to send messages to each other in your minority language.
If kids have hard time reading books, perhaps having Comics around the house could trigger kids interest in books.

TEENS (13-18 years old)

What do teens like? - learn more facts, watch TV, hang out with the friends...

This is a difficult period for many parents as I hear.

Do you already have tweens and teens? I would be happy to add your comments here! What do they enjoy?


Are you interested to participate in the Life Story series and write about your experience as a bilingual or multilingual child and/or a parent?  Would you like to take part in the Multilingual Family Interview series ? You can contact me here.

You might also like reading

What language should I speak to my child in public? - Multilingual parent dilemma.

One parent speaks two languages. Raising a trilingual child.

PROS & CONS of Raising a Trilingual Child

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Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter everyone!

Happy Easter to everyone!

Look what I found in one Italian pastry shop! - Chocolate Minions! :)


minions easter eggs italian chocolate

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Tips on Rolling Your R's. Сreative Kids Culture Blog Hop - March 2016

Did I tell you that one of my trilingual children is trying to master perhaps one of the most difficult sounds in all the languages that have it - “R”. The first word he said was not "mama", it was "rul’" (руль) which is “steering wheel” in Russian. So it is one of the first sounds he was able to pronounce, but unfortunately the tongue had remained in not the correct position accord to his SLP. Happily everything is getting better now and his guttural R is finally changing to the rolling R.

I am sure my child is not alone with this kind of problem, and in some cases parents can help to correct their child's pronunciation. I talk about it in my earlier article:  Ha ha ha or correcting your child's pronunciation problem.

I really liked Frances’ post where she shares tips from parents on how to roll R. Check it out, it might be just the right little push your child needs.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

How to explain your bilingual child the importance of speaking a minority language?

by Berna 

Do you want your child to speak your (minority) language with you and/or with a sibling? Or do you want her/him stop mixing the languages? Use this great tip from Berna to explain your child why it is important to stick to speaking the minority language and to speak it more often.

We live in the USA and have two kids. Their majority language is English and minority is German.

My older daughter always speaks to her little sister in our minority language. I usually leave it be when she slips and uses English words every now and then, but recently she has been talking more and more in English (majority language!) to her sibling.

I kept reminding her by saying
"Remember we need to speak to your sister in German so she can learn it too" .

My daughter’s response was
"She's a baby. She'll learn it eventually".
I guess it is something she heard another adult was saying.

She didn't seem to quite 'get' it why it is very important to speak German to her sister. So I decided to show it to her in the form of a little game.

The sponge represents our brain. Two colors represent our languages.

I have chosen the dark color for the majority language English and the light color to represent the minority language - German.

Each time we counted where we (must) speak English we made a dot with blue color. We did the same for German in yellow.

“Now what happens when we choose English between us?” I asked her.

The German gets diluted and eventually we can't see it!

I asked my 5 year old what can we do so this doesn't happen?

She took the yellow color representing German and said "we speak speak speak it all the time" and added that daddy can get some yellow too cause he's too blue.

At the end we got a beautiful color and she understood that this is the result of keeping up with German. She also asked if we could add red for Turkish. “Absolutely!” - I said. “We just need to keep practising so we don't forget the languages.”

If you have a child who refuses to speak with you in the minority language and who is old enough to understand the concept using the colors same as I did above, maybe this fun way of explaining how the brain works is just what you need!
For those of you, who speaks more than one language to your child, try to use two sponges. Be creative! :)

Are you interested to participate in the Life Story series and write about your experience as a bilingual or multilingual child and/or a parent?  Would you like to take part in the Multilingual Family Interview series ? You can contact me here.

You might also like:

7 facts that can determine the language spoken between multilingual siblings. 

Kids Radio Sations from around the world!
In so many different languages !

One parent speaks two languages. Raising a trilingual child.

PROS & CONS of Raising a Trilingual Child

Multilingual Family Interview: When your home languages are different from community language. Plus resources for teaching phonics and reading to children in English.

Would you like to receive Tips and Updates from us?

* indicates required

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Books in French by Ophélie Texier. Crocolou - half Crocodile & half Wolf. Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop - February 2016

Do you speak French with your kid? Your child surely will enjoy  "Crocolou aime les voyages"  , a beautiful book about a little crocodile Crocolou  or... stop! He is not a crocodile. His mother is a crocodile, but his is father is a wolf! He and his little sister Marilou are a mixture of both: a crocodile and a wolf.  Read more about the book on Eiola's  website.

Keep in mind that there are more books written by Ophélie Texier about Crocolou. Here are all the titles listed in the order of publishing:

Crocolou aime avoir peur
Crocolou aime les câlins
Crocolou aime les voyages
Crocolou aime ses copains
Crocolou aime le sport
Crocolou aime les gâteaux
Crocolou aime la nature
Crocolou aime sa petite sœur
Crocolou aime être beau
Crocolou aime le père Noël
Crocolou aime son doudou
Crocolou aime être amoureux
Crocolou aime sa nounou
Crocolou aime la fête !
Crocolou aime son papa
Crocolou aime les saisons
Crocolou aime l'école
Crocolou aime son chien
Crocolou aime cuisiner
Crocolou aime sa maman
Crocolou aime les livres
Crocolou aime jardiner
Crocolou aime dire non

Some titles are available on  Amazon.  Enjoy!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

15 Inspirational Tips From A Mother Raising Trilingual Children

by Filipa

As you already know from my previous post, I am a mother of two beautiful trilingual children French/Spanish/English. We live in Perth, Western Australia.

My son Tiago has just turned 3 and my daughter Elisa is 23 months old. They are amazing little learners.
As you will notice when your children reach that age, their little minds absorb much more than you expect. It is great fun and a privilege to witness their progress on a daily basis.

Tiago speaks French and Spanish as well as any same age little Aussie speaks English. He understands everything in English but for now it is his minority language, so he is not as fluent.

I am not worried about my children’s English since they are going to be schooled in Australia. I’d rather focus on the French and Spanish while they are little. I feel that the more efforts I put into these languages now the harder it will be for them to give up later. It requires a lot of discipline from us but it is well worth it.

Elisa is starting to associate the languages with the people. Where before she used to ask me for “agua” (water in Spanish) now she says “eau” and “agua” is just for dad.It is very amusing to hear my son correcting her when she speaks Spanish to me instead of French “Non, en français ma poupée” (No, in French my doll).

At home we use the OPOL method. I only speak French to the children and dad only Spanish. I am fluent in Spanish and my husband can also speak French, therefore none of us is excluded. I never switch to English when talking to my children even if I am with people who cannot understand French. I simply translate in English for their benefit. I do not want my children to think that English is better than French or Spanish.

I personally believe that switching to English would confuse them and would undermine my efforts in getting them fully proficient in the other languages. We want them to be able to communicate with their grandparents and cousins who live overseas. We cannot travel every year to France or the USA where my father-in-law lives. It is expensive. The journey is too long and we like to explore other places too.

We use several tools to ensure that they are learning French and Spanish without feeling excluded.

Let me share a few with you:

1. Consistency

We never switch to English (our community language). When they learn new English words at daycare, unless they are singing a song, I will translate everything back to them in the form of a question. “Oh! You have played with the farm animals at daycare. What did they eat? (my son knows the difference between herbivores, carnivores and omnivores) Who else was with you?”

2. Video calling

We skype with my family in France once or twice a week. My children practise by speaking with their grandparents and their cousins. We also skype once a week with my father in law in New York and again they practise their Spanish.

3. Playdates

We are lucky to have South American friends who have same age children. We try to organize playdates at least once a month.

4. Reading Books

I own an online bookstore specialized in international children’s books and we are lucky to have access to hundreds of books in French and in Spanish. My children love books and they are my fiercest critics. So far they loved all the books I showed them.

5. Language Workshop for kids

I also run Spanish and French workshops for little ones. I take my son along with me so he can get more practice with other children but it also motivates the other children who do not have a Spanish or French speaking background. When I ask them to repeat new words, some of them are shy and Tiago says the words straight away, then the children give it a go.

6. Activity Book

I am crazy about activity books, I love them since I was a kid and used to complete them the first couple of days of the holidays. Every time I go back to France or the USA I come back with at least 10kgs of books, same when I have friends who come over. I could never resist a book; I would cut down on my coffees or something else but not on books. However, it can be quite expensive but with the magic of internet you can now find many free activity books that you can download and print. For example, I use for the Spanish and for French . There are many more just Google “free activity books for a 2 or 3 year olds” and you will see many options offered.
I still buy some activity books with stickers as both my kids love them.

7. Music

My children love dancing and singing. I have CDs with French and Spanish rhymes.The other day I got really confused when my son asked me to sing the rhyme with the elephant. I told him I did not know any French rhymes with elephants. He then added, “Yes you know! The elephant that rocks on a spider web.” It is a Spanish rhyme but since he made his request in French I assumed he wanted a French rhyme! When we sing together, I let them finish the sentence. They would sing the last word, and then little by little they are singing the whole sentences and songs.

8. Making mistakes

When I read a story or I sing a song, I will change it to say something silly. They will correct me right away.

9. Play games

For my last Spanish workshop I took a small Christmas tree with coloured balls and stars to decorate it. In order to hang a decoration on the tree the children had to tell me the colour and the shape of what they were picking up. Anything to make them speak.

10. Flashcards & Memory cards

I like to use flashcards. I make my own for my workshops. The ones you can buy tend to be on a single topic at the time. I have made about 45 that cover several themes, such as the house, clothing, food, farm animals, wild animals…..

I also like to play memory cards with them. Again I make my own using different themes such as Halloween, Christmas, birthdays…..

11. Comment on everything

I make comments when we are at the library for storytime or at the theatre. Obviously it is all in English, so I say something like “did you hear that? The cat jumped on the bed then went out of the window and he wasn’t even afraid”. I want to make sure they understand all the English words they are listening to but also I want them to tell me in our home languages what they remember of the story once it is over.

12. Encourage conversations  

Even if they are little and do not speak clearly, it is always great to get them included in the conversation. Promote open end questions? Avoid “yes” or ‘no’ questions. For example, today it is windy I pointed the tree branches moving and asked my children to look at the branches and hear what noise the leaves were making. Then I asked them if the wind was blowing softly or strongly. They could feel the wind on their faces, was it cold, warm? Ask them to describe what they see and feel when they are older.

13. Do not correct kids speaking

I do not correct them every time they make a mistake. It might make them want to stop talking.

14. Exposure

I take them to museums, art galleries, fairs, cultural events and exhibitions to develop their vocabulary.

15. Learning before travelling

When we are travelling, I organize little activities with them on the country we are going to visit. It is fun to see them recognizing some monuments and greet people in the local language.

If your partner speaks English only

I get to speak to many mothers who are trying to raise their children in a language other than English and it seems that they find it more difficult when one of the parents speaks English only. What I tend to tell them is to avoid switching to English when their partner is home, keep speaking German, Polish whatever language you are teaching your child (remember consistency) and say it again in English for the partner’s benefit. This way the partner can also pick up a few words in the foreign language.

Raising children in other languages than the one spoken in the country we live in is not easy.

I always tell myself it all comes down to 3 words: 


When you speak different languages, you are able to think differently and be more tolerant and open to other cultures. We all really need it these days.

Now it is your turn! Let us know what you do to keep your children speaking their mother tongue.

Comment below or share your story!

My husband Albis and I live in Perth, Western Australia. Everyday brings more fun when we hear our children Tiago and Elisa speaking in French, Spanish and English. I love listening to my son literally translating jokes from one language to another. I cannot wait until Elisa is a bit older to hear them sharing a secret code/language in French or Spanish.

Are you interested to participate in the Life Story series and write about your experience as a bilingual or multilingual child and/or a parent?  Would you like to take part in the Multilingual Family Interview series ? You can contact me here.

You might also like:

7 principles to keep in mind while teaching your child to read.

Kids Radio Sations from around the world!
In so many different languages !

One parent speaks two languages. Raising a trilingual child.

PROS & CONS of Raising a Trilingual Child

Multilingual Family Interview: When your home languages are different from community language. Plus resources for teaching phonics and reading to children in English.

Russian Schools and Communities in Australia

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

What I Love about my Trilingual Kids.

The Valentine's day is approaching, so let’s have some fun and talk about love; love in relation to our multilingual children. So, what do you love about your bilingual / trilingual kids?

Here is what I love about my kiddos:

1. they can switch between the languages with ease!

2. you never know in what language they will talk during their sleep

3. you can leave them with the monolingual grandparents that are visiting you, knowing that everything will be fine and nobody will starve even if the adults can not say what they need at a local store - the grandchildren will do all the talking for them.

4. you can leave them with two sets of grandparents, who do not speak each other‘s languages, and go on vacation and know that grandparents from both sides will be able to talk to each other thanks to the little translators!

5. they have three different perspectives on life

6. they never get bored from reading the same book - just read it in another language!

7. they can follow the messy multilingual family / family friends conversation, when one speaks one language and answers to others in another and it all makes sense to them.

8. they can find friends easily no matter where they are

9. they are great communicators in general

10. they know what the fastest means of transportation are and are used to flying

11. they are reflection of the way I speak my mother tongue as I am the main language input for them

12. they explode with creativity and imagination. I wonder where that is coming from…

13. they are the sweetest kids, who hug and kiss me such that I feel that I am their baby and not the way around.

What about you?

What do you love about your bilingual / trilingual child?

Comment below!
♡ ♡ ♡

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Raising a Trilingual Child. Going with the Trilingual Flow.

by Kerry

"Mummy, go down!" my 17 month old said to me as I tried to persuade him to eat a meal that he didn’t really want (it was his favourite yesterday!)

"No, you haven’t finished eating yet" I tried to say in a lovely, calm, patient Mummy voice. I watched his little face, full of confusion, suddenly spring to life.

"Mummy, go down pleeeeeeeeeeeeeese!" he said as he began victoriously trying to climb out of his high chair. The little rascal thought he’d got it there.

"No, Ollie, you haven’t finished yet."

He slumped down again and thought for a moment. I wondered what was going on in his little brain. Then he shouted:

"Turun Mummy!" Turun is the Indonesian word for "go down". He translated for me because he thought I hadn’t understood him.

While laughing, I explained again that he had to eat some more first. He still sat there as if he was trying to work out a little puzzle and the answer was just on the tip of his tongue, just out of reach.

Then he yelled "Mudun Mummy!" with a little exasperated look on his face. This is the Javanese word for go down.

I plopped one last spoonful in his mouth and let him down. If the smarty pants can ask me in three languages then I can't help but let him down!

This was my first experience that made me feel absolutely certain that I was doing the right thing by exposing him to three languages from birth.

Let me give you a little background about our situation. I am Scottish and my husband is from Indonesia. We live in Indonesia together. We married here and in July 2013 I gave birth to my son, Oliver. The local language spoken in Surabaya is Javanese and the formal language is Indonesian. These 2 languages, although similar, are far from being the same. They follow the same grammatical structure but the words are on the whole, different.

When Oliver was first born I was confused. Should we speak only English to him and let him learn Indonesian later? This wasn’t really an option as none of my husband’s family can speak English. I wanted him to have a close relationship with everyone. Should we just speak to him in Indonesian and I can teach him English later? Well, that wasn’t going to work either. I speak Indonesian well but the idea of speaking to my baby in a foreign language all the time just felt too strange and my family can’t understand Indonesian either. And then there's Javanese, which is mostly just a spoken language. It is actually the first language of most people in this area and is what my husband’s family mainly uses at home. So acquiring three languages was unavoidable. Some people told me he was going to get confused or have some sort of speech delay. Others thought it was a great idea.

After thinking it through I realised that being bilingual or trilingual is not a strange thing at all in Indonesia. All children grow up speaking at least 2 languages: Indonesian and their local language. Many whom I have spoken to can speak at least one other local language. As well, all the Muslim children learn how to read and write in Arabic and I have seen people study it throughout their lives. The people of Chinese decent that live in Indonesia often learn Mandarin and many whom I have encountered use it as their first language.

So, I had to decide how was I was going to introduce three languages to my new son? I see a lot of information about the "one person one language rule" and while I respect that it works for many people I could see from early on that it wasn’t really going to work with my family. We pretty much decided to go with the flow and what felt most natural. I do that with most things in my life and it works. When I over think things then I am filled with uncertainty.

The outcome? Well, I definitely speak to my son mostly in English but when we are with his cousins or other family, none of whom speak English, I generally speak to him in Indonesian with some Javanese thrown in there. My husband flows between all three languages constantly and I’ve seen my son copy him. He can do it so easily and seems to enjoy it, treating it like a game. I know he can differentiate between the languages because when he meets someone who can only speak one of the languages he only uses one but when he is with people he knows understand more, then he seems to like to mix things up. Sometimes I play games with him. I say a sentence in one language and he answers in the same language. Then I reply using a different language, which he follows and then we go back and forth between them. It’s fun and he doesn’t seem to get confused. He giggles and seems to understand that it is funny.

So now, little Ollie is two and half years old. He speaks in full sentences in all three languages. He has recently started translating for other people that he knows don’t understand one of the said languages. The other day my English friend arrived at my house as my Indonesian sister-in-law was leaving. She said in Indonesian how she had to go to pick up her daughter at school. I was about to translate but the words were taken out of my mouth by my little 2 year old and he explained the situation before I had the chance to talk.

Reading a book with Mummy
I think the key to developing any child's vocabulary and language skill is to read stories to them. I have lots of books for my son and he loves sitting on my knee or snuggling under the covers to listen to stories and point out absolutely everything in the pictures. For example, Bob the Builder, page 1, I ask him "Where is the cat?" every time and he points it out with the same overjoyed enthusiasm every time. The other day we were in the car on a long drive and I had some of my nephews sitting beside my son. My son had brought some books for the journey. My nephew can’t really speak any English so I thought that the two of them reading the books together wouldn’t go well. So, while driving I was going to start asking him to point out different things in the picture. I have all the books memorised (I’ve read them so many times!). I glanced around to see what book he had chosen. I saw Bob the Builder (as usual!) so of course I opened my mouth to ask him "Where is the cat?" when he stepped in and said to his cousin "Bima, di mana kucingnya?" (Bima, where is the cat?). I just laughed and felt proud as my little two and a half year old began to lead his older cousin through the book in a different language. I only hope that he can continue this easy flow as he grows older.
Ollie with his cousins including Bima (the boy with the hat)

Later when he goes to school he will learn to read, write and speak in Mandarin also. Sometimes I worry it will be too much but I see all my students managing it every day (I am a teacher in the school he will go to) and I hope that my son can do that too. My husband’s family are all Muslim and so later, outside school, he will probably also learn to read and write in Arabic.

If you hope to raise your child as bilingual or trilingual but worry he or she will be confused, know that learning multiple languages in childhood in Indonesia is common (and I’m sure in many, many other countries but I have no first-hand experience).  

Do whatever suits your family. 

Do what feels right. 

Follow your instincts. 

Trust in your child's little growing brain that he or she will be able to sort through the languages.

Ollie being a cheeky monkey in the sand

I feel so proud that my little boy can cope with it all but really, when I step aside from my mummy role and see him as just another kid then I believe that he is just normal. Most children in the right environment would be able to do what he does without a problem; they just have to be given the chance.

Kerry is from Scotland and has lived in Indonesia for 5 years. She is married to her Indonesian husband, Mulianto, and has a little cheeky son called Oliver. Kerry is a playgroup and kindergarten English teacher in a trilingual International school in Surabaya. In her spare time she enjoys going on camping road trips with her huge extended family and exploring Indonesia.

Are you interested to participate in the Life Story series and write about your experience as a bilingual or multilingual child and/or a parent?  Would you like to take part in the Multilingual Family Interview series ? You can contact me here.

You might also like:

Kids Radio Sations from around the world!
In so many different languages !

Pros and Cons of Raising a Trilingual Child

One parent speaks two languages. Raising trilingual child.

Non-native Speaker Raising Bilingual Children. Interview with Christine Jernigan, the author of "Family Language Learning"

What language should I speak to my child in public? - Multilingual parent dilemma.

Can babies distinguish foreign languages?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Life Story: A Story of a Bilingual Child. Where the passion for language learning can lead you to.

by Filipa
From Europe and South America to Australia: Our multicultural journey.

I was raised bilingually in Portuguese and French. I was born in Portugal and, when I was 18-months old, my parents permanently moved to France. We used to speak Portuguese at home only unless we had French guests with us.

Preserving the minority language.

With my sister we used to spend all our summer holidays in Portugal with our family. Our parents would join us for the second month. We were lucky to benefit from a full immersion and no-one to talk to in French besides each other

The fact that we spoke Portuguese at home in France allowed us to communicate with our cousins and friends without any issues. I met so many children who could understand Portuguese but could not speak a word of it and were therefore unable to converse with their grandparents.

Unfortunately, we did not attend a Portuguese school but my parents made sure that our babysitters were Portuguese and most of our friends spoke Portuguese too.

Our grandparents stayed with me and my sister for a couple of years as I started first grade. We used to sing Portuguese songs all the time and watch movies. When my grandparents went back to Lisbon, we would call them every week.

When I became a teenager I felt that something was missing and I could not appreciate my culture to the full extent. So I taught myself how to read in Portuguese. I remember I asked my mother to buy me a good but easy book for me to start my reading. She got me a romance novel! Well at least the story was easy to follow but I was not learning much about the culture and grammatical rules. After that, I went myself to the nearest bookstore and bought a collection of classic authors. I still have those books and I love them.

I think the only way to fully appreciate a culture is when you can read books in the original language. I love Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I read his books in French, Spanish and English. I did not feel the same for each language. The Spanish version for me is the best. I wish I could read them in more languages!


Funny misunderstandings.

We had funny moments! The best memories of my childhood were these holidays spent in Portugal. When I did not know a word, my brain would switch to the French mode and I would translate it literally. Like the time I was speaking with my aunties of star signs. I was saying that my dad’s star sign was Cancer. In Portuguese the correct word for the Cancer star sign is ‘crab’. Cancer is for the illness! I can still see the puzzled look on their faces trying to figure out what I meant. Then they realized my mistake and we had a good laugh!

Nowadays I do not get to speak Portuguese very often. I speak Spanish with my husband and South American friends, French with my children and English when I work or when I interact with people from other cultures.

So when I skype my family in Portugal or go for a visit, I need a few hours to switch to a 100% Portuguese mode because I tend to speak ‘Portunhol’ (Portugues-Espanhol).

What languages and cultures mean to me.

I am passionate about multiculturalism. By the time I finished high school , I had studied 7 years of English, 5 years of German and 3 years of Spanish. I guess it is easier when you live in Europe with nearly all the countries speaking a different language.

When I started Law School I gave up German but I carried on reading in English and Spanish. Funnily I was determined to study International Law but we only had to study any foreign language for 1 semester only, very ironic for an international career!

I interrupted my Law School studies for a couple of years to look after my father who was ill and work full time. I still had 4 years to go to become a lawyer and in the meantime I changed my mind and switched to International Trade. This gave me the opportunity to practise my languages: English in the morning with Australia and Asia, Spanish and Portuguese in the afternoon with South America.

I have backpacked a fair bit in Europe and Australia. I love meeting new people and learn about their customs, stories, legends, the way they live. I try not to judge with my Westerner’s eyes and instead learn as much as I can by talking to people.

Moving to Australia, starting a family and raising trilingual children.

I moved to Australia ten and half years ago, when I came over to study a Master of International Trade. I was determined to immigrate as I fell in love with the country back when I was ten years old while watching a documentary about Ayers Rock and the Aboriginal culture. In 2000, I spent a couple of months in Sydney to gain work experience, it was just before the Olympics and the whole country was in a happy and excited mood! Before going back home I decided to visit the East Coast and the Centre part of the country. I really wanted to see Ayers Rock and as I expected I loved it. So peaceful and rich in stories.

When I came back for the university I chose to study in Perth. During the uni breaks, I took my backpack and travelled up and down the West Coast and in Tasmania.

I did get my degree and something that I did not expect: Love. I met my husband-to-be in a methodology class for international students. The irony is that he is Peruvian and has one of the most common French surnames ‘Durand’ this is like ‘Smith’ in UK! Now I am a mother of two beautiful trilingual toddlers (French, Spanish, English). I work from home, I own and manage an online bookstore specialised in International books for children, it is called Le Toboggan. It has always been a struggle to find good children’s books in French and Spanish here in Perth. For example, when my sister came over to visit us last year with her family, she brought over 11kgs of books from France that I had purchased online. I thought I could not be the only one in the same situation and my children being my inspiration, I decided to go ahead with the bookshop. I am lucky both my children love books and when my son misbehaves I tell him that he will go to bed without any stories. This is the end of the world for him. I can take anything away but the books. He is three and already knows what he likes or not. He is my toughest critic when it comes to assess the ‘books from mommy’s work’. So far so good, he likes them all and I have a hard time to keep him away from reading the books without my supervision.

I also run French and Spanish workshops for children and I am a consultant in International Trade. As you can see I am very busy but my priority is to emphasize my children’s French and Spanish skills as best as possible before they start schooling. There will be my next story about.

A bientôt.

My husband Albis and I live in Perth, Western Australia. Everyday brings more fun when we hear our children Tiago and Elisa speaking in French, Spanish and English. I love listening to my son literally translating jokes from one language to another. I cannot wait until Elisa is a bit older to hear them sharing a secret code/language in French or Spanish.


Are you interested to participate in the Life Story series and write about your experience as a bilingual or multilingual child and/or a parent?  Would you like to take part in the Multilingual Family Interview series ? You can contact me here.

You might also like:

One parent speaks two languages.Raising trilingual child.

Non-native Speaker Raising Bilingual Children. Interview with Christine Jernigan, the author of "Family Language Learning" 

Kids radio from around the world!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Bilingual English Korean Folktales. Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop - January 2016

Have you read Korean folktales to your child?   Here is my pick from December blog Hop - great Korean English bilingual kids' book to start exploring Korean culture with. One folktale is talking about a tiger that is afraid of dried persimmons! Curious? Me too!  Thanks Jackie from Our MultiAsian family life for sharing these stories with us! And do not worry if you do not have Korean book store near by. Gmarket online store ships books internationally and if you are in Korea you can find books on Kyobo and Bandi N Lunis.