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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.

Welcome to the Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop!

The Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop is a place where bloggers can share multicultural activities, crafts, recipes, and musings for our creative kids. We can't wait to see what you share this time! Created by Frances of Discovering the World through My Son's Eyes, the blog hop has now found a new home at Multicultural Kid Blogs.
This month our co-hosts are:

Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop is a place for you to share your creative kids culture posts. It's very easy, and simple to participate! Just follow these simple guidelines:
  • Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook. Please let us know you're following us, and we will be sure to follow you back.
  • Link up any creative kids culture posts, such as language, culture, books, travel, food, crafts, playdates, activities, heritage, and holidays, etc. Please, link directly to your specific post, and no giveaways, shops, stores, etc.
Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop

  • The Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop will go live on the 3rd Sunday of the month. It will run for three weeks. The following blog hop we will feature a previous link up post, and if you're featured, don't forget to grab the button below:
Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop

Thank you for linking-up, and we can't wait to see what you've been up to!

My previous picks:


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


Best Children's Books in Russian

List of Russian Children's Cartoons and Movies. 


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


19 Best Websites with FREE Audio books and Stories in English for Kids

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

One Parent Speaking Two Languages. Raising a Trilingual Child.

by Semiha Sözeri

We are a family of three living in the Netherlands.
I am originally from Bulgaria and I belong to the Turkish minority there. I grew up bilingual: speaking Bulgarian and Turkish equally well. When I was born, my parents spoke primarily Turkish to me. I started learning Bulgarian at the kindergarten when I was 2 years old. Both of my parents were teachers in primary schools located in areas with high percentage of Turkish minority population. They were experienced in supporting majority language acquisition without attrition of the minority language. In this respect, they spoke both in Turkish and in Bulgarian with me and my brother in order to maintain both languages simultaneously. Their only rule was never to mix the languages within the same sentence. I think I have adopted a great deal of their approach to me in the linguistic education of my own son, whom I raise trilingually in Turkish, Dutch and English and expose to the fourth language - Bulgarian.

As many expat parents, I was wondering which language teaching approach we should adopt. I have read extensively on the topic and I have benefited from observing other expat families with kids. I have seen that for many families where the father and the mother have different mother tongues, it is rather easier to follow the One Parent – One Language method and to obtain good results.

However, in our case we had more than two languages which we needed to teach our son. My husband is Turkish from Turkey. Significant part of our education was in English: we started learning English in secondary school, then our bachelor and master’s degrees were completely taught in English. Right now, we have many international friends. Thus, even before our son was born we knew that he will be exposed to multiple languages.

We knew it was possible for a child to learn up to four languages simultaneously and the literature on the subject was indicating that as long as the parents are consistent in their approach, the exposure to more languages would only be beneficial.

When my son was born, my husband was working full-time and I was lucky enough to be working part-time from home. The first language I started speaking with him was Turkish, but from the very beginning I exposed him to English and Dutch nursery rhymes, books and videos as well. Our child started going to Dutch daycare two days a week when he was 18 months old. In the meantime, we were attending English speaking playgroups in The Hague. This way we made sure he gets sufficient exposure to Turkish, Dutch and English.

When we read a book, I always ask him in which language he would like to hear it and I translate accordingly. When we learn the name of a new object, we try to name it in all of the languages we use making clear that things have different names in the different languages. Same goes for counting as well.

Now that my son is 2 years and 11 months, he has the same level of proficiency in Turkish and English with Dutch lagging somewhat behind these two. Nevertheless, he speaks in whole sentences in all three of them and I hope that going to a Dutch school will help him a lot. Neither I, nor my husband is a native speaker of Dutch and we started learning the language only after we settled in the Netherlands 5 years ago.

Also, I must admit that although Bulgarian is one of my native languages, I was a bit reluctant to introduce it. There are a number of reasons behind this decision. First of all, during my early childhood the Bulgarian state has banned speaking Turkish in public as a part of the assimilationist policy of the communist state. Because of this I had developed an idea of the Bulgarian state as an oppressor of its minorities and my ethnic identity as Turkish had a major place in my development. Therefore, it did not come natural to me to start speaking Bulgarian to my child after he was born.

Nevertheless, I do want to teach him Bulgarian as well, but I would prefer to wait until the other languages are established. Besides, we have no one else who speaks Bulgarian around us: I would be the only person who speaks Bulgarian to him. So, I opted for my mother tongue Turkish together with Dutch (the majority language) and English (the language of the playgroup) and decided to postpone Bulgarian for a later stage.

Luckily, I see that he shows interest in learning different languages (when we speak Turkish, for example, he is asking me “What do we call this in Dutch (or English)?”). This encouraged me to expose him to Bulgarian nursery rhymes as well. For now, Bulgarian is lagging very much behind the others but I am happy that he recognizes it and I believe that spending time in Bulgaria during the summer holidays, for example, will be beneficial for his learning.

I notice that many parents are worried when they encounter situations which do not allow them to strictly follow One Language – One Parent or Minority Language at Home – Majority in Public methods. So far, in our experience few languages can be successfully absorbed by a child even when the same care-taker is exposing the child to more than one language. I just would like to underline that this should not be interpreted as mixing the languages. We are very careful not to mix words from different languages within the same sentence and we always try to make it clear for the child when we switch from one language to another.

I am glad that the multilingual approach we have adopted has worked well for us so far. I do realize that it will become more challenging to sustain the minority languages once our son starts Dutch school. However, since I went to a majority school myself and managed to sustain my minority mother tongue skills at a native level, I am not very worried about it. I know that language maintenance through time requires the conscious effort of the family and the child himself.

According to me every family can have different linguistic needs based on their cultural heritage and current circumstances. I know of single mothers successfully raising bilingual kids and homeschooling families who are the sole teachers of their children for all languages and subjects taught in a regular school. In this respect, I don’t think that there is one-fit-all formula when it comes to language teaching. Instead, I believe in adapting the existing methods to the unique needs of each family.


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.

Are you a multilingual family and looking for a playdate in your language or another family to chat with? Click here to find it now!

You might also like reading:

Pros and Cons of Raising a Trilingual Child 

Best Kids Radio Stations from around the world

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

Would like to teach your child English phonics? Check this interview for the resources: When your home languages are different from community language. 

How to Raise a Bilingual / Multilingual child. Where to start?

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

Raising a Bilingual Child : Setting Your Priorities From The Start. 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Learning All About Ants in Spanish. Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop - December 2015

If your kids are learning Spanish, then these wonderful activities are for you! Help your child to learn everything about ants by making it fun. You could sing a song about ants in Spanish, watch video, play some games (free printables are available), read books. Recommended "Arriba, Abajo y Alrededor" book looks very interesting. Read more about my pick from November's Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop here.

Welcome to the Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop!

The Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop is a place where bloggers can share multicultural activities, crafts, recipes, and musings for our creative kids. We can't wait to see what you share this time! Created by Frances of Discovering the World through My Son's Eyes, the blog hop has now found a new home at Multicultural Kid Blogs.
This month our co-hosts are:

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

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

Can a parent successfully pass a non-native language on to a child? - Absolutely! Christine Jernigan, the author of "Family Language Learning: Learn Another Language, Raise Bilingual Children" book , is one of those parents. She is a non native speaker of Portuguese and raises her two children bilingually from birth. If you have doubts whether this is doable, perhaps you are worried about your accent, than read on!


Question 1: Where do you live?  How many children do you have and what are their ages?

Answer : Chapel Hill, North Carolina, U.S.   I have a daughter who is 13 and a son who is 11.


Question 2: Please describe your family language situation. Who speaks what language? What language strategy do you follow?

Answer :  We do One Parent One Language (also called One Person One Language). My husband speaks English to the children, and I speak Portuguese. (My husband understands Portuguese fairly well after hearing it for 13 years, but he does not speak it.) When we are all four together, we tend to speak English unless the children are directly addressing me (or I, them). We switch naturally from English to Portuguese using eye contact as our cue. I discuss this swapping of languages in the book "Family Language Learning: Learn Another Language, Raise Bilingual Children"

The most common technique we use is that of "false monolingual strategy." This means that I act as if I only speak Portuguese, even though I speak English as a native language. Speaking exclusively in the language was the only way I felt they could attain fluency with me being the only speaker of Portuguese at home. If they say something in English to me, I do not respond.

However, if they are lost and cannot remember a word, I use the strategy of "feeding" in which I offer the first syllable of the word they need. Most of the time, they can then supply the rest.

This doesn't have to be as oppressive as it may sound. I can remember times when we've laughed about it, because, of course, the kids know by now that I speak English. Recently James (my son) tossed some keys to me and said in English, "Catch!" I let the keys fall to the ground as if I had heard nothing. It was funny because it was so ridiculous. I picked them up and looked perplexed. In Portuguese, I asked him, "Was I supposed to catch these?" That way he had the word "catch" in his vocabulary and could use it next time he needed it.

Question 3. When and how did you acquired the languages you speak?

Answer : I learned a little French from high school and college. I went to Wake Forest University and it had a strong French program. Unfortunately, I was not a strong student of the strong program, but enough rubbed off that I was able to do their study abroad. Looking back, I spent time with my American friends and English speaking boyfriend and spoke French very little. At this point, I can get by in a French-speaking country, but don't have conversations.

Portuguese, I started learning the semester after college when I went to the interior of Brazil to teach English. There weren’t many English speakers around, so I had to learn fast. I studied this grammar book I bought in the States and read through my pocket Portuguese-English dictionary late at night. I was highly motivated because I wanted to understand the jokes and conversations of the people I spent time with. I was there 6 months and was able to converse, though probably with heaps of mistakes. In the book I talk about some embarrassing stuff I said in those days.

I went back to Brazil a couple of years later and taught English in a Pan American School. Spent a lot of time with Americans but still managed to learn some Portuguese. At this point I would say I'm fluent, but that it's obvious I'm a foreigner from my accent and grammar mistakes, though the errors don't interfere with comprehension.

Question 4: Do you think parents, who are not fluent in a foreign language (pronounce some words wrong, speak that language with an accent and make grammatical errors), are able to teach children that language from birth and speak it exclusively with them?

Answer :  I definitely think even parents who just know some of the language can teach it to their children successfully. From early on, it's good for parents to think about what they hope to accomplish and what's realistic. If they don't feel they can become fluent in the language, then they can shoot for exposing their children to the language. What's great is that in giving children that exposure, parents are learning themselves, such that there's a building process. Parents become more adept in the language as they read to their children, for example. They are able to read more complex books the more they practice with the simple ones.

Parents may also find that learning a foreign language isn't as painful as they assumed it would be. So many people judge language learning by the torture they faced in high school and college. These classes don't always have students using real language. The words parents will find in children's songs or books are the vocabulary they need to interact with kids. The authenticity of the language makes it stick. It's so relevant that it motivates parents to keep learning.

Question 5: How about passing a language if a parent has an accent? Will be the accent passed on as well? Or is there a way to avoid it?

Answer : I would say that I really don't see accent as an issue, as long as it doesn't interfere with comprehension. So in my case, sure, I have an accent in Portuguese. But I have an accent in English, too, actually-- I'm from Nashville, TN, after all.

When I took my kids to Brazil, they were able to play with Brazilians. If they said words differently, they may have been corrected, but it was never anything discouraging, just very matter of fact.

I tell parents not to worry about their accent in the second language. I suggest they do what they can so that native speakers will understand them. (I list many ways of how to accomplish this in the book, but basically things like watching movies in the second language and listening to music from the target country).

Question 6: From my experience reading books everyday is essential for building strong vocabulary in the minority language. What kind of language learning activities did you find the most productive with your kids?

Answer : Wow, I wouldn't say "every day" because that's pretty restrictive. It's like telling someone on a diet they can never eat cake. If you take out the "always" and "nevers," people stay more motivated because they feel less bossed around.

(NOTE from Raising a Trilingual Child): Sure, reading everyday might not be always possible, but this is what a parent, and especially a minority language speaking parent, should try to do. If parents are able to set the right routine, kids would crave for books. My kids just do not want to go to bed without reading at least a short story. The only compromise they will accept from me is listening to my own story. )

That being said, we did read a lot of children's books. And we reread them too because it's not easy to find Portuguese children's books. Sometimes I would just use books in English and tell the story in Portuguese. We used Richard Scarry's Fun with Words book where the kids point to interesting things they see and I say it in Portuguese.

As far as activities that were most helpful for us, I'd say learning songs and nursery rhymes in Portuguese. I found a neat book of songs and rhymes that had a CD. (scroll all the way down to see the language resources) That way, I could listen to it alongside the kids and pick up the songs. Then we'd sing them around the house, in the car, etc. I always had children's CDs in the car that had fun Portuguese songs on it. Story books also helped because they loved to be read to -- it didn't matter the language. And just doing everyday things in Portuguese -- getting dressed, eating breakfast, playing Candy Land. What I try to get across in Family Language Learning is that your house doesn't have to become a school. You just live your life and do it in the second language.

Question 7: When you just started speaking Portuguese to your first child, were you able to stick to it all the time?

Answer :  In the beginning, in fact, with my first child, she was better in Portuguese than English in some areas. My son was the second child and my daughter ended up speaking English to him-- she was in preschool by the time he was old enough to speak. Had there been a Portuguese preschool, I definitely would have had her in there.

What's funny is that Portuguese became our language such that it felt fake to speak in English. I've talked about this with other bilingual parents and I'm not alone. It's as if you choose a language with your child and it's awkward to speak to each other in a language other than that chosen language. Imagine if you're learning Spanish and your best friend is too. So you get together and are talking about your Spanish classes, you might try speaking some Spanish together, but it feels strange because you've already chosen English as the language that holds that relationship.

Question 8: What language did your bilingual children start speaking first?

Answer : They spoke first in Portuguese probably b/c I was home with them so they heard me more than my English-speaking husband. It freaked out one of my relatives to the point that when I would say something to my daughter, he would repeat it loudly in English. When they went to preschool, their English became stronger.

Question 9: Some parents are concerned that if their child is exposed to two languages, he/she will be a late talker. Did your children experience any speech and language delays? What would you say to stop parents believing in this myth?

Answer :  It's funny because I was speaking about this at a Teaching English as a Second or Other Language (TESOL) conference I attended last week. The delay is very little. It's less than the delay boys have from girls in language development. What I've seen happen is that the child stays at home with a parent who is teaching the second language. The child hears more of that language and becomes stronger in that language. Then along comes the grandparents who don't speak that second language and they are frustrated at not being able to communicate as much as they feel they should. Pressure is often put upon the parents to change their language plan so that English will be the stronger language.

What should happen, in my opinion, is that parents feel confident enough to explain to Grandma and Grandpa that as soon as little Suzy starts preschool, English will become her stronger language

Question 10: When you departed on your bilingual family journey, what was the goal for your children's Portuguese language fluency? Were you able to achieve it? What was the most important element in achieving it?

Answer :  I feel like I've met my goals in speaking. However with reading and writing, I would like my children to be more proficient. They do some homeschooling every school morning. Just 5 minutes or so of work that I correct and have follow up questions about. They can send a text message in Portuguese or leave me a note on the fridge saying where they are going. They understand if I give them a to-do note or a grocery list. They do not read on their own in Portuguese. I think if they take Portuguese in college, however, they will do more of this and will feel much more confident at it than their non-Portuguese speaking colleagues will.


Question 11: Some non-native language speaking parents report difficulty in dealing with disciplinary issues due to the vocabulary limitation. When kids are small the parents response time is very crucial. A child may get hurt while you are looking up a word in a dictionary. How were you handling this situation?

Answer :  I should be clear in saying that if your child's safety is at stake, you the parent should speak whichever language comes out first. I think you will find, however, that if you get in the habit of speaking the second language, it will feel odd to speak in English.

I would also encourage parents to learn well words like, "Be careful!" "It's hot!" "Don't touch," and "Stop!"

Question 12: How would you encourage non-native language speaking parents to launch on this wonderful adventure of raising bilingual children in non-native language and give them the precious gift of languages?

Answer :  There are so many benefits I could list-- so many reasons why learning another language makes sense and helps your child. But the one I've found most important is that you'll spend more time with your child. You'll talk more, listen more, and spend more time together reading books and listening to music. You'll have a code that other parents and kids don't share.

I asked several moms and dads what they would say to other parents interested in speaking another language to their children. Here are two of their responses:

When he was born, I worried “How will I potty train him in French?” then “How will I prepare him for the arrival of his little sister?” etc., but then it just happened fine. Now I try and foresee us discussing the facts of life in French, when he's older, or talking about girlfriends, drugs, drinking, etc., and it's hard to imagine, but it may all just happen naturally...we're both learning! (M.G., email interview)

Be persistent! A majority of children and young kids will be stubborn. They don’t see the point in learning a language they won’t be able to speak at school or with their friends. Only when they start to mature or develop will they see the usefulness and worth in knowing two language. Their lives will only be benefited by it. (H.G., email interview)

I would like to thank Christine for the interview and encouragement! Click here "Family Language Learning: Learn Another Language, Raise Bilingual Children" to view this book on Amazon.

If you would like to share your family experience,  whatever it is good or bad,  feel free to contact me

Are you successfully raising bilingual or multilingual children? or do you have regrets about something you have not done on time? Please do not keep it for yourself, share it with other parents, by writing a comment or by contacting me for an Interview or by joining great contributors in the Life Story series. You will help thousands of readers!


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


Best Children's Books in Russian

List of Russian Children's Cartoons and Movies. 


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


19 Best Websites with FREE Audio books and Stories in English for Kids


"Songs from a Journey with a Parrot" 
Lullabies and Nursery Rhymes from Portugal and Brazil in Portuguese with English translation + music CD



9 Steps of Raising a Bilingual Child Successfully. How to Start So You Don't Feel Giving It Up Halfway Through.

Q & A: How to pass on two non-native languages to a child?

Thursday, November 26, 2015

“Спокойно, СКУБИ-ДУ!” и розыгрыш подарочной карты на 6500 рублей! - “Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!” and Gift card giveaway!

Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!

I am not sure who is more excited I am or my kids that Scooby Dooooooooooooooooooooo is here again! More (14 new episodes!), New and Cool!

“Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!” is the new series of the cartoon kids from around the world love so much. Scooby-Doo! is one of those classics that stand the test of time and now has a refreshed look of mystery squad and a new comedy twist. 
Спокойно, Скуби-Ду! 

Скуби-Ду и местическая команда снова на экранах! Наконец-то появился долгожданний новый мультсериал о неугомонном и немного трусливом Скуби-Ду и в России!

Спокойно, Скуби-Ду! порадует детей и родителей новым комическим сюжетом и свежей прорисовкой героев мистической команды.

You can watch the new series on a cartoon TV channel ( Cartoon Network or Boomerang) in your country.

Also Warner Bros. set up the WBKids channel on youtube that makes it easy for your kids to watch their favorite mystery squad whenever they want it.

The website is multilingual! It comes in several languages: English, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, German. It has videos, games to play and printable activities to download.

I find this website is great for English language learners. Your child will have no problem to navigate the website and read Scooby-Doo! Comics.

Great way to celebrate the premier with the Warner Bros. by participating in this giveaway!

Enter for a chance to win 6500 RUB gift card from RUSSIAN online store Ulmart and invite your Russian friends to enter too! Giveaway is open to legal residents of Russia who are 18 years or older.

Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter.

The results will be published on this page after December, 6 2015. Click here to bookmark the page. 

Good Luck!

Смотри “Спокойно, Скуби-Ду!”  c 28 ноября на канале Бумеранг в России. 

Но общение с героями мультсериала не заканчивается только просмотром самого мультфильма. В  любой момент вы можите заглянуть на Warner Bros Скуби-Ду сайт чтобы еще раз увидеть полюбившихся героев, поиграть в игры, распечатать интересные занимательные материалы для детей включая раскраски, загрузить обои для телефона, планшнта и компьютера или попрактиковать английский и почитать комикс.

А на канале  the WBKids channel   на Youtube , Скуби-Ду и друзья готовы вас рассмешить 24/7. Просмотр комических эпизодов возможен с любого устройства. 

И что еще лучше, можно посмотреть мультфильм про Скуби-Ду! и выиграть приз  - подарочную карту на 6500 рублей от интернет-магазина “Юлмарт”.

Для участия войдите  в форму Rafflecopter , что найдете ниже, со своим адресом электронной почты или через Фэйсбук. Розыгрыш открыт резидентам России от 18 лет и старше. 

Имя побелителя вы узнаете заглянув на сайт после 6 декабря 2015.

Нажми сюда, чтобы добавить страницу в закладки поисковика.


На входной форме ниже (если не видна, следуйте по ссылке), нажмите на кнопку "F log in", чтобы войти через Фэйсбук или на кнопку "Use Your Email" - через электронную почту (вам всего лишь надо указать адрес почты и ваше имя- паролей вводить не надо) и следуйте указаниям. Каждое выполненое задание, например, зайти на скуби сайт, увеличивает ваши шансы выиграть подарочную карту на 6500 руб! Удачи!  a Rafflecopter giveaway Форма

This is a sponsored giveaway. Rules can be found directly on the Rafflecopter form. All images are provided by HireInfluence Inc.
Розыгрыш осуществляется при спонсорской поддержке. Правила указаны в Rafflecopter форме. 

Are you raising bilingual or multilingual children?

Browse this website to find more information on how to do it. Language Strategies Page is the great place to start with.

Click here, if you are looking for great books to read to your Russian speaking kids. 

For English language learners:

9 great websites with FREE audiobooks for children in English.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Q&A: Should a Parent Stop Speaking one language and Switch to another one?


Should a parent of a 2,5 years old bilingual child switch the languages to reinforce a third one (English)? Question from a trilingual Greek- French- English mother living in Montreal Canada with her French Canadian husband and bilingual Greek-French child.


Thank you so much for your website, I have definitely learned a lot by reading your articles.

Our son is a little over 2 and a half years old and I stay at home with him. We live in Montreal Canada, so our country is predominantly English but our city is very French. I am of Greek origin, but I am perfectly trilingual in Greek, French and English, with the latter being my main language. I have decided to speak to my son exclusively in Greek. My husband is French Canadian and we had decided early on that he would speak to him only in French. At this point my son speaks Greek and French and does not confuse the 2 languages. I am happy about this, however, I am starting to worry about his English language skills. He does not seem to understand English and definitely does not speak it, but it is extremely important for me that he do so. His books, TV, are only in English and my husband and I decided to only speak to English to each other for maximum exposure. The issue is that the school system here is French. We have decided to send him to a Greek elementary school, but it is still 70% French, 20% Greek, and 10% English. However, the English program is very advanced as I found out that most children of Greek parents are only learning English at home and therefore they are all fluent in English by the time they start elementary school. My family is very Greek/ English and my husband's very French, and our friends are 50% / 50%. I am now rethinking our choice of languages...should my husband be speaking to my son in English instead of French? What can we do to make sure he is very fluent in English?

Thank you so much for your help,



Hi Christina,

I am glad you found the material on the website useful.

You are absolutely right to rethink your trilingual family strategy. Your goal is and should be to support the minority languages at home. In your son's case those languages are English and Greek. He will receive plenty of exposure to French later at school.

Have you already talked to your husband about switching the languages? The solution that you proposed yourself is the best in your situation.

If your husband is willing to switch to speaking English exclusively, he would need to transition to it very slow (!). After reaching milestones in one language a child transfers whatever he learned to another one. You want to avoid taking away the language your child might have progressed in more. At this age you can not really say which language is the main language for a child, especially when the language input is about the same in both languages, such that they develop in parallel. During this transition make sure that your child has enough French language input from somewhere else. For instance, from a kindergarten. The transition needs to be smooth allowing for developing all three languages. Still speaking French, start from building some basic vocabulary in English and then use the learned words in the sentences. Translate them, if you feel your child does not understand what you say. Your goal is eventually to reach the full immersion.

Since your child has been already exposed to English, by listening you and your husband speaking to each other, he should have the necessary base and would feel comfortable speaking English in a relatively short time. Read the article about children’ passive language learning.

Your husband might need help of a toy. You could introduce an English speaking toy-friend to your son. Just get a new toy and tell your child that it speaks and understand only one language - English. You could even make a story about this toys previous life before getting to your home. My kids love when I talk for toys, it is a lot of fun for them. Kids love structure, it helps them to separate the languages, and they are more willing to accept a toy speaking some different language than a parent.

In case your husband does not feel comfortable completely switching to speaking English ( I am talking about the long run. You still would need to proceed as described above), he could speak both languages. This is a common strategy bilingual parents use when would like to pass on both languages to a child. He could alternate the languages daily or weekly or bi-weekly depending what suits best in your particular family situation.

Let me know if you have more question.

My best wishes for your family trilingual journey:)

Best Regards,

Are you bringing up a bilingual or multilingual child or are you a parent to be and have a question? 

Read other parents' questions and my answers in Multilingual Family Q&A Series

Feel free to contact me. Use "Q&A" in the subject line.

For privacy protection I can change your name and omit some personal details, if you wish. 

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