Google+ Raising a Trilingual Child


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Good Reads: to set mood for Halloween - Gobbolino, the Witch's Cat book, audiobook, song with notes

Multilingual Reads - great books that you can find translated in different languages!

Halloween is approaching and I have a great chapter book that would put your child into the Halloween mood! Gobbolino, the Witch's Cat  is a children's novel written by Ursula Moray Williams, an English writer. It is translated into Italian, Spanish, German and Russian. 

AGE: 5+ (younger children will enjoy it too). Great book for siblings - my 3 years old daughter enjoyed reading it with her 5 year old brother.

Gobbolino's mother is a black witch's cat. Gobbolino's kitten-sister, Sootica, is also a black cat. She wants to be a witch's cat just like her mother. Only Gobbolino, a kitten with blue eyes and one white paw, dreams to be a simple house cat, have a home with a fireplace and a family, who would love and care for him. Because of that, his cat-family abandons Gobbolino,  and he embarks on the journey to find  his dream home.

The book title in

English: Gobbolino, the Witch's Cat
- buy it used for as little as 1 cent!

Italian:   Gobbolino, il gatto della strega

Spanish: Gobolino, el gato embrujado

Russian: Гобболино - ведьмин кот

German: Gobbolino, der Hexenkater 


Listen to Gobbolino, the Witch's Cat audiobook  in different languages:

English audiobook: Gobbolino, the Witch's Cat

Spanish audiobook:  Gobolino, el gato embrujado - Audiolibro

German audiobook: Gobbolino, der Hexenkater - Hörbuch

Italian audiobook: Gobbolino, il gatto della strega - Audiolibro

Russian audiobook: Гобболино - ведьмин кот


Gobbolino the Witch's Cat song:

Have fun listening Dany Rosevear singing Gobbolino the Witch's Cat and check out her French, Catalan, Dutch and Polish songs collection.

Gobbolino the Witch's Cat song notes:

Would you like to play "Gobbolino, the Witch's cat" song yourself?
Here you can find notes.

What is your child’s favorite book about cats and/or witches?  Share it in the comments. My son loves cats. Both kids are fascinated by Baba-Yaga and Witches and love to play and read books about them.
And do let me know, if  "Gobbolino, the Witch's cat" was translated into your language, I would be happy to add the book title here.


You might also like reading:

Life Story: Sometimes knowing a language is worth it for its literature alone. 

List of children's books in Polish language - Lista książek po Polsku dla dzieci

Good Reads: books about Prostokvashino by Uspensky. Read or watch cartoons with English subtitles. 

List of children's books in Russian language. Best Russian cartoon list. 

Should I correct my child speaking? - same question parents of monolingual, bilingual and trilingual children ask.  

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Life Story. Our trilingual story: It’s all Greek, Italian and French to me!

Welcome to Life Story series. Collection of stories from parents and multilinguals around the world! Today's guest is Marina -  bilingual by birth and now multilingual mama - who is telling us about her experience in raising trilingual children in Brussels. 


Marina Kaffe:  I was born in Italy and raised in Greece. My father was Greek but spoke at home (very good) Italian with my mum so at home it was Italian for me and outside Greek. It was a piece of cake to learn both. I went to university in Italy and perfectionized it there. I actually dream in both languages, some words are definitely easier in one or another language. I have, I would say, definitely a bilingual mind, split and bipolar. English I learnt at school very soon and then at the Uni. I also speak French but in no way fluently. I really find great and lots of fun learning new languages and this I think I have definitely taken because of my bilinguality.


If it is true that languages are vehicles, we are definitely well equipped in our family! My personal bilingual story began when I was born by an Italian lady and a Greek tall man (not usual I know). Hubby is not exactly bilingual but he has been acquainted with different languages and cultures because of his Italo-Greek descent too.

For us, even before we had kids, there was no other option but to pass them our double linguistic and cultural legacy. And so it was. Our beautiful son spoke his first Greek and Italian words with astonishing proficiency! Later on, when we moved “abroad" (what a funny world that changes according to your geographical position), the trilingual voyage began as we decided that our son would attend a local school, that is French-speaking. Oh, in this part of the world Dutch is also spoken and compulsory at school so there he was trying to learn another 2 languages!!! The poor kid, he was only 3,5 years old when for the first time in his life he wet his pants as he couldn’t ask the simple question that would have led him to the toilet! Yet along with time came proficiency, first in comprehension and a bit later (maybe in 6-7 months) in speaking.

A few years later our 7-year-old son is making fun of our pronunciation, our grammar, our everything in French, making us proud despite he pointing out our ehm… inefficiency :) He now speaks Italian with mum at home (and with granny on Skype), Greek with daddy (and extended family) and French with everybody else. Now that his little sister is here also I feel he hasn’t decided which language he will use with her, although I guess it will be French mostly to practice the favorite siblings' sports, namely making fun of parents. It has to be said that Dutch did not have a similar fortune probably because of little or not interesting exposure.

We read in all three languages, we watch movies and cartoons, we travel in our countries and my son has lately surprised us in reading and writing in such a different alphabet as the Greek one although he has not received formal education in it.

If multilingual kids are smarter then we have in our home 2 little geniuses!

One proud mama
Please contact me, if you are interested to participate in the Life Story series and write about your experience as a bilingual or multilingual child and/or a parent.

You might also like reading:

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

How to develop early phonemic awareness and reading readiness by using language play with kids from birth to preschool. 

What language should I speak to my child in public? - Multilingual parent dilemma.  
Life Story: Trilingual mama - trilingual kid. Why would it be any other way? 

Read all multilingual parents stories in  the Life Story series

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

List of children's books in Polish language - Lista książek po Polsku dla dzieci


Big thanks to Emilia Pallado, who sent me this great list of children's books in Polish language so I can in turn share it with all of you! Emilia is a mother of two trilingual children, who are bilingual in Polish and Spanish from birth, and have been learning English at school.

Dear Emilia - Thank you! Dziękuję! Gracias!

Książki dla dzieci od urodzenia

Marta Bogdanowicz (opracowanie) – Rymowanki – Przytulanki

Jan Brzechwa - Wiersze i bajki

Julian Tuwim - Wiersze dla dzieci

Aleksander Fredro - Paweł i Gaweł

Maria Konopnicka dzieciom


Książki dla dzieci od 3 lat

Monday, August 18, 2014

How to develop early phonemic awareness and reading readiness by using language play with kids from birth to preschool.

As I already mentioned in the 7 principles to keep in mind while teaching your child to read, before child learns to read he needs to learn how to separate  phonemes (speech sounds). It is better for parents and kids to start working on it as early as possible, since in reality it does not require anything special.  So what can you do to help your child develop phonemic awareness? - It’s quite simple: just sing, read and play. Play using the language and play with the language!

When your child is born, start singing to her/him. 

The first recorded lullaby is dating around 2000 BC. According to the researchers, lullabies prepare child's ear and brain for language.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Life Story: Sometimes knowing a language is worth it for its literature alone.

It is easy to learn languages as a baby and be bilingual from birth. But many of us, including the parents raising those lucky bilingual children, have a different story. Some were born and raised monolingual until leaving the country as teenagers, some - as adults. Andrey left his home country when he was 10 years old and moved to US with his parents. There he started a new life and learned a second language. He has also learned how to preserve his mother tongue and this gave his life a different spin - he started translating the poetry and putting his own thoughts into rhyme. He is also raising a bilingual daughter.

My name is Andrey. I was born and raised in Moscow, Russia. I remember my childhood, as most kids remember theirs, carefree and easy-going. I spend most of my summers with my grandparents, either from my mother’s side, in Pishchulino, a small village some five hours drive south of Moscow or from my father’s side, in Pyatigorsk, a city in southwestern part of Russia, known for its mountains and mineral springs. In Pishchulino, I learned how to collect mushrooms, pick berries, and play card games. In Pyatigorsk, my cousin and I would make water guns from old shampoo bottles, and run around with local kids, spraying one another. During the long winter months in Moscow, I would spend a lot of time outdoors, playing in the snow. My brother, who is six years older than I am, always had many friends and he would reluctantly drag me with him from one party to the next.

As a child, I did not ever think about the economy, politics, the army draft that was looming over my brother’s head, or future in general - that was my parents’ job, and so it was somewhat of a surprise when they had decided to follow my aunt and uncle and immigrate to New York.  I was ten at the time. I remember feeling anxious and excited at the same time, elated and depressed. I did not know what awaited me on the other side of the ocean. I knew that the chances of me coming back to Russia in the near future were slim. The evening before we left,

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

What language multilingual family speaks at the table?

Every evening the whole family is gathered at the table. We speak to each other. Kids laugh at their misbehaves.  I am getting stressed that they do not eat and that my son, who is learning to cut food with a knife, periodically waves with it and his sister follows him with a fork.  All things are like in a common family with two or more little children on board. The only difference, we add more turmoil -- we speak three languages at the table.  My children and I speak Russian to each other, my husband speaks Italian with them and English with me. Sometimes we become as laud as Italians in a restaurant, when one table tries to outshout  the others, with the only difference -- we are all seating at the same table -- in our home!

Soon our children, who are 2 and 4 years old, will grow up. The chaotic dinners should get more civilized tone. (I started writing this post some time ago, now the kids are almost 3 and 5 years old and have made significant behavioral progress :) ) Every month we are slowly getting  a chance to discuss topics that are interesting to all four of us. We use our "language scheme" (Father + Child = Italian, Child + Child and Child+Mother = Russian, Father+Mother= English) and it works for us so far. We do not get bothered by not speaking the same language. The questions I have:

Would things stay the same way after a couple of years?
Would we all feel comfortable having a conversation in all three languages at once?

It won't be a problem for me as I speak well our trilingual family languages Italian, English and Russian. It might be a slight problem for my husband. Hopefully his level of Russian will improve together as children master the language.  Everyday he tries more and more to join our conversation in Russian. The children are slowly learning English and, who knows, one day they might actually join our, for now parents only, conversations in English.

I wonder how other multilingual families "language at the table" situation evolved over time. Did you come to the common denominator and stop on one language? Or you still use all the multilingual family languages? Does it bother you not to have one single language at the table? Please leave a comment for me and readers to know what you think.

You might also like reading:

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

A family vacation, multilingual style. Are you in?

Naming languages with their proper name.

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

Friday, July 11, 2014

What should we do when reading becomes a book eating?

Does your child sit still and listen to the book you read or stays with you for a second and then starts running around picking up toys to play?  Or perhaps, even worse, he is chewing on the books checking how they taste?
In Bilingual children: How to read to a baby?  I gave some  tips on how to keep your child's attention while reading;  and I am very excite to introduce Alicja Pyszka-Franceschini, who is raising a trilingual child in Polish, English and Italian. Today she’s sharing  some great ideas on how to help you to deal with little lions at home :) 

"I really would like to read to my toddler but it’s really difficult. She moves so much or when I start reading to her she grabs the book and tears it apart,” a friend of mine said to me. I really knew what she was talking about as my little toddler was doing exactly the same thing. Pulling, biting and tearing the pages ferociously as if turning into that young and wild lion that I’ve just attempted to read to him about.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

More delight, less doubt.
Bringing up a trilingual child – the beginning

by Alicja Pyszka-Franceschini

I just came back from the hospital with my small and beautiful little boy. He was an easy-going newborn who settled himself into a nice routine very quickly. I loved holding him in my arms late at night and absorbing his peace. Blissful, wonderful peace. I felt enormously happy. I felt rewarded, blessed and enriched; but my fortune was not made of money, but of affection and attachment that strengthened and deepened with every day, unconditionally, unremittingly, and peacefully.

It was in this peace of a quietly breathing newborn baby, in a room that smelled of baby shampoo, just after midnight, that I realised that I want to bring up my son as a trilingual child, that the biggest gift my husband and I can give to him is the gift of languages, an opportunity to enter and explore his parents and grandparents' cultures and to draw strength from them.

But there are other reasons too.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Good Reads: books about Prostokvashino by Uspensky. Read or watch cartoons with English subtitles.

If you ask any child in Russia, who is Uncle Fedor, there is a big chance you will receive an answer that’s full of excitement!
Uncle Fedor is a little but very independent boy, who left the house together with his new friend - the cat. This cat not only speaks people's language and cross-stitches, but also knows the proper way to eat an open-face sandwich so it tastes better!
This wonderful story was written by Eduard Uspensky in 1973. Almost 30 years ago! And it is still loved by children.

You can also find it translated in many other languages:

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Life Story:
Trilingual mama - trilingual kid.
Why would it be any other way?

Trilingual "apple" does not fall far from a trilingual "tree".

Nathalie’s parents raised their kids trilingual long before nowadays multilingual parenting book plethora and well before anyone can google everything.  They did think there was a choice!  And now the story repeats  -  Nathalie is raising her son trilingual and can’t see any other way. 

 Nathalie with Daniël (then 4 months old)
My name is Nathalie (39) and I’m  of a German and a Dutch nationality. After being born in Germany, I traveled around the world with my parents and two siblings. I currently live in Madrid, Spain. I work in a bilingual (Dutch-Spanish) primary school where I teach the toddlers and first grade. 
I am a mother of a nearly two year old boy, Daniël, who is half Dutch half English.  I am a self-proclaimed expert in both multilingualism and moving houses thanks to my upbringing.

I was raised as a trilingual child, and I'm now myself raising a second generation trilingual child, be it with other languages. Many people around us seem to think it is harsh on our child to expose him to not only two, but three languages. Others seem to think we are over challenging the little boy, just for bragging purposes. Neither could be further from the truth. As in my own upbringing, I feel there is no choice than to raise Daniël trilingual, simply because we cannot just ignore one of the three languages.

I was born in Aachen, Germany to a German father and a Dutch mother who spoke English to each other because they didn’t speak the others' language. I suppose neither of them were willing to give up their mother tongue when it came to raising us.
Camping in Kenya

Once my father had finished university he was offered a job that would imply moving all over the world for the next 20 years. The first stop was Nairobi, Kenya where my sister and I were sent to a local (English) school. At home we spoke German to my dad, Dutch to my mother and English at school.

Nathalie with her sister
As my grandparents were mortified not seeing their grandchildren growing up, my parents often recorded cassette tapes of us speaking and singing for them to listen to, which they sent to them. These tapes have become the most valuable and interesting testimonies of our language development. By the age of 3 and 5 my sister and I had formed the most complicated sentence structures applying the various grammatical rules of English, Dutch and German, using all three languages in any given sentence-depending on which parent we were talking to, the language the last song had been sung in or in whatever language a word came to mind first.
To outsiders this must have been a perfect verification against raising children in more than one language. Mind you, at the time you couldn’t google if what you were doing was right. My parents raised us trilingual with no clue as to what they were doing.

The second country (after a break in Holland) was Venezuela. We went to an American school and I think by that time my dad had learned Dutch which became the language spoken at home. I don’t actually know based on what my parents decided to leave out German-possibly it was us, the children who decided we wouldn’t speak German anymore. (I just asked my dad why we started speaking Dutch at home, and even he has no clue). As we were in a Spanish speaking country we also got Spanish lessons at school, and I suppose we learned the basics, but in leaving Venezuela, we left behind our fourth language-Spanish.

The next country was India (again after a little break in Holland) The American school had not really been what my parents had hoped for so we went to a local German school. By now (8 and 10 years old) we were obviously perfectly capable of separating the three languages we spoke and were fluent (but not native) in all three languages. The family continued to speak Dutch at home and we spoke German at school and English when out in Bombay.

Bombay, India
After India we moved back to Holland where my parents were confronted with various options as to where and in what language we would continue our schooling.  At the time our school language and home language were both good but not perfect, and the choice had to be made not knowing what country the future would bring. The choice (for which I am to this day still grateful) was the European school in Mol, Belgium. The European school gave us the possibility of being educated in all three of our languages. Be it that we had to chose which language would be our first, second and third. In the end, we went to the German section.

When it came to going to university I myself chose to go to a Dutch one, as we were living in Holland. It was at university where I became aware that I was pretty non-native in all three the languages which was quite a shocking realization to me. There I was thinking I was a right genius while getting back papers with more red than you could possibly imagine (and comments like: "This is a primary school mistake". Bit by bit my German and English disappeared to the background as I was living and studying in Holland.

I stayed in Holland till my 30th and then started to get itchy-feet and so I decided to make a plunge to Madrid-Spain. It was here that I realised how much I had missed speaking different languages - all of a sudden I would hardly ever speak Dutch. To be honest, I felt negatively towards the Dutch language, wanted nothing to do with it. I very much enjoyed speaking English most of the time and realised that my identity was actually directly linked to the Dutch language.  English became my first language again as I became an English teacher while I was struggling to learn my fourth language-Spanish.

Now (8 years later) I am still in Madrid, working at a bilingual school (Dutch-Spanish) watching “my” little bilingual toddlers learning to speak their second - and sometimes third language.

My partner is English, and I'm half Dutch-half German. We have a 1.5 year old son Daniël (imagine the struggle to find a name that sounds ok in four languages!) who is being raised trilingual as well. His dad speaks to him in English, I speak Dutch and at a day-care he learns Spanish.

When Daniël was born, we knew we had no choice but to raise him trilingual. The fact of living in Spain, being born to an Englishman and going to do his primary school in Dutch and Spanish, there was no way to chose for a monolingual or bilingual education. Therefore,  just like myself,  Daniël will grow up being non-native in all languages, but sounding like a genius to monolingual people.

I have no regrets about him growing up trilingual, and must admit that it fills me with pride that he understands basic concepts of all three languages. I have no doubt that he will, just like me, be endlessly grateful for the present of multiple languages.

Please contact me, if you are interested to participate in the Life Story series and write about your experience as a bilingual or multilingual child and/or a parent.

You might also like reading:

Can babies distinguish foreign languages?  

Life story: A Journey to Multilingualism.  

Bilingual child: when to start reading?

Does passive language learning work?