Google+ Raising a Trilingual Child


Monday, June 15, 2015

Good Reads: “Masha & Oika” by Sofia Prokofieva. Two little girls that your children can relate to and learn from. Short stories in Russian for children from 0-5.

Masha and Oika are the two little girls that are very similar in character and behaviour to our children. One girl, Masha, likes to do everything by herself , the other one - does not and always complains saying “Oi”. In fact, because of that everyone stopped calling her with her real name - Zoika and started calling her Oika.

These two girls, just like any children, have animal friends. In our kids case those are their plush toys.

These short stories will help your children to learn what is good and what is bad, to say goodbye to a pacifier, to learn how to be polite and to stop being resistant to washing their hair.

“Masha & Oika” (Маша и Ойка) by Sofia Prokofieva (София Прокофьева) is a must have in your preschooler’s library and is a great book for children from 0 to 5 years old.

Here is the list of the stories that are included in the book “Masha & Oika” by Sofia Prokofieva

This Russian book “Masha and Oika” is also available to listen to online:

Слушать Машу и Ойку онлайн.

Cодержание книги Софии Прокофьевой “Маша и Ойка” :

Сказка про Ойку-плаксу
Сказка о ленивых ногах
Сказка про соску
Сказка о мокрых штанишках
Сказка о первых ягодах
Сказка о высунутом язычке
Сказка про грубое слово «уходи»
Сказка про волшебные перышки
Сказка про маленький дубок
Сказка про воронье гнездо
Сказка о том, как Мышонок попал в беду
Сказка про холодную воду
Сказка про хитрую ловушку
Сказка про честные ушки
Сказка про волшебную корзиночку
Сказка про дырявый кармашек
Cказка про игрушечный городок
Сказка про непослушные ручки и ножки
Сказка про башмачки
Сказка о том, как зайцы испугали Серого Волка
Сказка про молоток и гвозди
Сказка про часы с кукушкой.

If you have already read this great book by Sofia Prokofieva, check out the list of Russian language children's books and cartoons  or stop by to see what other international families and friends of Multicultural Kid Blogs have to recommend in the Read Around the World Summer Reading Series.  This is the second summer, when bloggers from all over the world share their recommendations of great multicultural books for the entire family!

Good reading time to everyone!

You might also like:

Best website with FREE audiobooks and stories in English 

PROS and CONS of raising a Trilingual child. 

List of Kids' Radio Stations from countries around the world

How To Raise a Bilingual or Multilingual child. Where to start?

A family vacation, multilingual style. Are you in?

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

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Life Story: Emigrating at age 8. Challenges of preserving the home country culture and language. What can be passed onto the new generation?

Are you an expat parent? Are you wondering how your child feels about your language and your culture? Karolina's life story will give you insights on what it was for her to emigrate at age 8 and  grow up with two languages and two cultures. She talks about her personal benefit of bilingualism and  her goals for raising  her multilingual daughter.

I was born in Poland. I grew up hearing my grandmother and her mom speak German to each other whenever they didn’t want the rest of the family to understand what they were discussing. I was aware that my mother had some level of Russian familiarity on account of it having been a required foreign language in school when she was growing up. But I didn’t start learning my second language – English – until I emigrated to the United States at the age of 8.
Once immersed in the American public school system, surrounded by native English speakers, I picked up the language in no time. Rather than being held back a grade, as was common practice for non-native English speakers entering the school system, I finished second and third grade in the same academic year.

But alas, contrary to what my relatives convinced me of, it was not as simple as merely adding a second language and carrying on with the first language as if nothing happened. Something did happen – my first language, Polish, was being replaced by English. It took me literally decades to finally come to terms with the fact that I lost something of my mother tongue by emigrating.

On the surface, I thought I had an easy adjustment. I was young when I arrived, I was immersed in the mainstream language right away, and my parents maintained the minority language at home. I maintained my Polish literacy (albeit at an elementary level) by writing letters to my grandmother and cousin. But on my visits back to Poland, I noticed I wasn’t familiar with the most recent slang, or that I couldn’t explain various aspects of my conversation topics on account of them being far more advanced than the second-grade Polish education I was working with.

For years, I did not associate my weaning native language skills with my scuffles with my parents. After all, all adolescents argue with their parents, right? However, I was cognizant enough to always keep in the back of my mind that on top of a generational gap, my parents and I also had a cultural gap.

I attributed my perceptions of my relatives’ comments to their personality traits. Usually, this meant that I saw them in a negative light – as rude, mean, or just plain insensitive. I had no idea that I was translating my American-learned value system into a Polish culture that operated within a very different set of values. Over the years, I’d ask my mother to explain to me why someone said something that I found offensive. With time, I started to question if this was just the way Polish people were, or if it was something unique to my family. It hadn’t occurred to me that my gap in understanding the Polish culture was a direct result of the way I became bilingual.

My parents and I settled in an area of the United States that did not have a large Polish diaspora community. At first, we attended a Polish parish, but within a couple of years, we moved too far to continue regular attendance at this church. It probably didn’t occur to my parents that they were cutting me off from a very critical language resource by limiting my Polish exposure to only the home. It was merely a matter of what was practical. No other Polish resources were available to us when I was growing up. There was no internet yet, and we couldn’t afford Polish language television. I had a subscription to a Polish children’s magazine for a time, but no contact with anyone outside of my family who spoke Polish.

As I matured, the topics of interest for me also matured, but my Polish vocabulary didn’t have a chance to keep up. There were things I didn’t feel comfortable discussing with my parents, and since there was no one else I could discuss them with in Polish, they just weren’t discussed in Polish at all. And soon, I noticed I was no longer thinking in Polish.

When I first noticed that I thought to myself in English, I tried to make it a point to consciously switch back whenever I caught myself. I felt guilty for letting my Polish slip like that. My parents couldn’t relate to what I was going through linguistically, since their Polish solidly remained their true mother tongue. I remember one incident where I was trying to say something to my dad about a lightbulb and I couldn’t remember the Polish word for “lightbulb”. I stuttered, trying to think of it, I may have even said the word in English in hopes of him helping me out. Instead, he got angry at me, not believing that I could’ve forgotten such an easy word. He thought I was lying.

Relationship with my mother.

My relationship with my mother also suffered because of the language disconnect. Even though we always spoke Polish in the home, there were less and less things I could discuss with her if for no other reason than that it was awkwardly peppered with a lot of code-switching (followed by feelings of guilt). Not only that, but Polish grammar has two ways of addressing a person, depending on the formality of the occasion and intimacy of the interlocutors. Many languages have a similar dichotomy: Spanish tu/Usted, French tu/vous, German Du/Sie. I grew up using the formal third person verb conjugation when addressing my mom. I didn’t have the benefit of hearing that this apparently changes at some point in a parent-child relationship.

I started to feel silly using the formal with my mom, yet it felt downright inconceivable to use the informal. And so I developed my own strategy for overcoming this obstacle. Since code-switching had already become part of my repertoire by this time, and my mom had also started using some English words in conversations with me, I simply utilized the universal English “you” in place of its equivalent in Polish. So for instance, instead of asking my mom the formal way, “Co mama chce na prezent?” or the equally unacceptable informal, “Co chcesz na prezent?” more and more of my sentences started to be bilingual when addressing my mom, resulting in the following compromise for the above question: “Co do you want na prezent?” (“What do you want for a gift?”)

Then one day when I was in my 20s, my mother told me about a conversation she had with her own mother, and how my grandmother was upset that my mom had started to use the informal with her. So I asked my mom when it was appropriate to make the switch. Was I old enough, perhaps? My mom didn’t even flinch. She had no problem with me addressing her in the informal. But I did. Since I didn’t speak Polish with anyone other than my parents, and every few years my grandparents and aunts when I’d visit Poland, I only ever used the formal in my spoken Polish. I heard myself say the informal to my elders and I cringed. It sounded wrong. Rude.

It took me many years to force myself to get used to it. The advent of modern technology helped. It was much easier to test the waters by addressing my mom as “you” in emails, and later in texts. Even to this day, I am consciously aware of saying “you” to my mom. But since after years of trying this out on her, my mom has yet to complain, I know I’m safe to continue.

However, as cumbersome as my weakening Polish skills have been to my relationship with my mom and with my family and understanding Polish culture and nuances in general, there is another detrimental result of my not having grown up “truly bilingual”. Growing up, I heard what an advantage it is in the work world to know multiple languages. The largely monolingual society I lived in seemed to also consider it something of a bonus, a sought-after resume-builder. But since I hadn’t yet figured out that there are levels of multilingualism, I considered myself bilingual, period (and later trilingual when I took 5 years of Spanish, including an immersion program, and eventually married a native Spanish-speaker). I proudly put Polish and Spanish on my resume, but when it came down to it, I didn’t actually have what it took to do the job. My English is way better than my Spanish and even Polish by leaps and bounds. Not only has nearly all of my formal education been in English, but all of my peer interactions from a young age have been in English as well. The truth is, I can’t translate between the languages except at a quite basic level, and any job that would require language skills requires far more than that.

While I consider myself multilingual and multiliterate, I am finally able to make peace with the fact that I’m not equally proficient in all three languages. I’ve made the journey from Pole to Polish-American.

Benefits of bilingualism.

So what good have my language skills been then?

They have enabled me to see the world from a very open-minded perspective. I’m aware of how differently speakers of different languages see the world, and this has helped form who I am today. It has encouraged me to seek out non-native English speakers for friends, and it provided me with a decade of fulfilling work teaching adults English as a second language.

It has given me the ability to enjoy cultural events, music, food, traditions, not only from the cultures associated with my languages, but from various other cultures as well. It allowed me to see marrying someone of a different cultural and linguistic upbringing as a no-brainer. It is in being different from the mainstream that I see comradery with other multilinguals. I feel more comfortable surrounded by people from various backgrounds than I do surrounded by all Poles.

Being multilingual has given me the ticket to considering myself a global citizen. My idea of “us versus them” is very different from most monolinguals. “We” are people who want to work together to build a better tomorrow, and “they” are those who are too wrapped up in their own monolithic identities to see past people’s differences and embrace a universal selfhood.

My goals for raising a multilingual child. 

So I stand at a cross road when considering my goals for raising my daughter multilingual. Many parents desire full fluency in both languages for their kids. Had this been my parents’ goal for me, I would’ve reaped the benefits in many ways. But since I am no longer as emotionally vested in my first language as I was when it was still my native tongue, I have a much more laid back approach to language learning now. I want to provide the exposure for her inside and outside the home, so that she can enjoy the language in what she reads, what programs she watches, what music she listens to, and her choice of friends. I do not see language learning as a chore or a parental duty. I see it as a natural extension of who my husband and I are – we are a multilingual family. It couldn’t have been any other way.

My daughter does have an advantage over me in the way she’s growing up multilingual. I have a clear-cut language goal for her (though not a strict one), and I have the benefit of knowing that it takes more than mere at-home exposure to provide optimal opportunities for fluency.

I’ve made peace with my level of multilingualism, though I still have an emotional reaction to certain songs and poems in Polish, so perhaps it is still my “mother” tongue. But everyone knows that the baby chick eventually leaves its momma’s nest. Polish may have provided me with roots, but my wings are intertwined with a heavy dose of English and a decorative patch of Spanish. Perhaps what’s most important to know cannot be conveyed in language of any kind. After all, silence is golden. Milczenie jest złote.

Karolina and her husband Oscar live in the United States and enjoy communicating with their toddler daughter Natalia in Polish, English, Spanish, and American Sign Language, which they are learning together as a 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:

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.  

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

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. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

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

You are a happy parent. You have a precious baby that you decided to raise bilingually or even multilingually.

It is time for your family and, if you are a minority language speaking parent, for you personally to set the priorities. Set them right from the start, as the way you start could affect your success in passing your mother tongue (or the targeted language) onto your child. You should really think through it and act on what I say, if you wish a high level of proficiency in your language for the child. You might have a feeling that your child will have a plenty of time for language learning and that he/she is still just a baby. Yes, the latter is true, but not the former as the time will pass by so fast that you won’t even notice when it’s time for your child to go to school where he/she will inevitably detach from you and your language daily influence.

How do you figure out what’s important? How do you prioritize the language learning?

Direct interaction with your child.

By spending more time directly interacting with your child you at the same time give the priority to the language learning.

A child starts learning language still in the womb and keeps on learning day after day, word by word. He learns even when he is not talking back to you, when he is 1,2,3 month old.

The first months is when YOU need to do all the talking. I know that could feel weird as nobody answers you. Your baby is just a passive listener, BUT he is also a very fast learner.

Children need to hear you to speak to them, interact with them. They need to hear words several times in order to acquire them.

The words are rolling on and on, like a snowball that gets bigger and bigger as you roll it across a snowy lawn.

Use any opportunities to talk to your baby. Play with your baby, read to your baby, just be with him/her and SPEAK SPEAK SPEAK to him/her. Every simple thing you do, such as singing a lullaby helps you to prepare your baby for the future literacy.

Do you know what is the best way to start building your child’s vocabulary? - take him for a stroll and talk and explain to him everything you see.

Here are other changes and decision you may need to make.

I know many of us feel, especially with the birth of a new family, that everything should be perfect. The house, the family.

You try to do your best in being parents, a husband, a wife.

The first three years of your child’s life are the most important for the language development (and not only!) . Your child needs you during these years the most. Especially if you are the parent , who is passing on a second language.

Your child’s need in your support is proportional to the child’s growth rate. The faster he grows the more he needs you. He learns about the new and exciting world around him and becomes more independent. Overtime your child will start to slowly detach from you and grow into an independent human being day by day giving you more time for yourself. But this stage of life comes later. Right now you need to make more time for your baby. But how? Where can you find time? How to make the time for a child in our busy life?


When your baby is up, it’s “his time”. Talk and involve your baby into activities when he is less tired and more alert. And do whatever you need to do around the house or outside, when the baby is tired or asleep. That way you can get the maximum results from those hours of learning.

A quick observation based on my kids: the more they were learning the better they were sleeping; thus, giving me more time to take care of other things around the house.

If you can, try to live near your workplace to cut on the commute time and be home early for your little one.

If you need help - find a babysitter or daycare provider speaking your language.


Three course meal is great, but do you really need it now? There are many dishes that are very healthy, easy to cook and , what is very important here, they are fast to prepare! When your child is older, he/she will help you to prepare those big meals, just wait a little. He will learn new words and practice speaking simply by doing it with you.


Mix and match the responsibilities. Encourage your half to pitch in more. Take turns cooking. Or cook and freeze meals to free up time.

When your child is ready to eat adults like food , make a dish that everyone can eat. This could be a good remedy for picky eaters as well.

Think what you spend a lot of time on and how you can reorganize your life to have this activity during your child’s rest hours.

Delegate! Hire help!

Groceries. How about a home delivery? Check online and local stores for this possibility. Yes, it costs extra money, but think about it as a little investment into your child’s future. It’s better, if you spend time together now than pay language teachers later.

Cleaning. If you feel overwhelmed, hire someone to clean your house. It does not have to be every week. If you are on a tight budget having a cleaning service for 3 hours every other week will do the magic and will help you keep the house under control. Look at it as a very good investment in your child's bilingual education.

If your relatives / friends offered you help to run some errands -- take it.

Talk to your husband / wife / partner , find a solution to optimize your life to be there for your soon to be bilingual baby for these precious three years. Your child grows and changes, he will be more independent soon, but the first three years of his life are when he learns the most and masters the languages.

And when the question comes:

Should I read to my child or clean the house?

I answer: Read!

What would YOU answer?

I am pretty much the only language source for my kids and I know for sure my kids won’t be speaking my language this fluently as they are without myself setting the priorities and putting the kids language learning needs before my own and without support of my lovely husband.

Do you have something to add? Please do so in the comments below! And Thank You!

You might also like reading:

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

Choosing the best language strategy for your family.

Pros and Cons of Raising a Trilingual Child.

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

Can babies distinguish foreign languages?

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!

Bilingual Multilingual families Find a playdate in your language

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Child's exposure to more than one language helps to build strong communication skills.

I really feel the need to share exciting results of the recent research conducted by psychologists of University of Chicago.

Not only bilingual children, but also children, who are exposed to more than one language, have better social communication skills.

I hope this news will encourage parents to keep on speaking their mother tongue around their children and to their children, even if they feel close to giving it up.

Read more about the research here.

You might also like reading:



Tuesday, May 12, 2015

FREE Audio Books and Stories for children in English. 19 great websites.

Audio books are very entertaining for kids. They are a great resource for teaching and learning a language to any age group from kids to adults.

You can listen to them in a car or at home while enjoying other activities.

My kids like to draw and listen to fairy tales and children's stories when they are broadcasted on children's radio or as audiobooks.

Here are links to 19 great websites that are offering kids' audio books for free :

1. Storynory 

Free audio stories for kids with texts:

Original stories
Fairy tales
Classic Audio books
Educational stories
Myth and World stories
Junior stories
Poems and Music

Listen to audiobooks on iTunes:

2. Meegenius Free Books

Audiobooks are available for children up to 8 years old . You can choose from different titles. You can either read an ebook by yourself or listen to a narrator and follow the words in the text.

3. Loyal Books

Free public domain audiobooks & eBook downloads for children and adults.
Great kids audio books collection!

4. Storyline online

This website is the contribution of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Foundation to the advancement of literacy. It features professional actors and famous people reading children's books aloud. Wonderful book reading videos on Youtube!


Audiobooks are read by volunteers and available for free to anyone to listen to or to download. Browse the catalog of over 15000 free audio books. In order to find the children's books you could browse by Gender / Subject or use their advance search and choose in Category/ Gender  either "Children's Fiction" or "Children's non-Fiction" to show all the children's audio books available.

6. Online Audio Stories

Great short stories for kids with read-along text. Also available on iTunes.

7. AudioBooksForFree.Com

Children's Classics

Animal Adventures ( including books about Dinosaurs !)

Train Tails

Fairy Tails 


Folklore Stories

Grown up books for kids

Cristian Books

Jokes for children

Poetry ( Nursery rhymes and playground counts)

8. Kiz Club

read along books with words highlighting future or books to print in PDF

Level 1 stories

Level 2 Stories

Level 3 Stories 

9. Kiddie Records Weekly

Golden collection of vinyl records ready to be streamed or downloadble as mp3. Wonderful classics from the golden age!

There are also stories and songs for kids on youtube!

10. Lit2Go 

Collection of children's literature sorted by author, book titles, genres, collections and readability level. You can either listen to mp3 format audiobooks and read the text online or download audio and books in PDF.

11. Audio Stories for Kids

More than 200 stories in mp3 format for you to download and listen to. No text is provided.

12. The Children's Story books online

Free children ebooks website. Some books are with audio narration.  

13. A Story Before Bed

This is a particular website. Children's books are narrated by their authors (with video!). You can also record an audio and video of you reading a book, so  your children / grandchildren would watch YOU reading it instead. This is a paid option, but you can try it for free and see, if you like it.

14. Learn English Kids by British Council

Really great website for little English language learners with short kids stories to watch. The website has other great language learning material: nursery rhymes, kids songs, tongue twisters, spelling and grammar videos and games.

Learn English Kids ON YOUTUBE 

15. Story Place


The children's digital library, where children can listen to interactive stories and play.

Choose from  Preschool Library   or   Elementary Library

16. Books written and read by Robert Munsch

Robert Munsch  is the author of many great books. Listen to them or read his poetry and stories. He also shares with readers how his books were written.

17.  International Children's Digital Library (ICDL)

Extensive digital library of children's ebooks from around the world. Many books are available in more than one language.
I found 5 audio books at the moment that are available in two languages - English and Spanish. Use this Keyword search to check if there are more audiobooks and to find ebooks you'd like.
ICDL digital books for children are available on iPhone & iPad:

18. Hoopla

(for USA library card holders only)

Great website where you can instantly borrow free audio books with your USA library card. You can also borrow and stream on your mobile or computer movies, television shows, music albums. It is like taking them for a short period from your local library.

Get it on Google Play

19. Over Drive

( for USA library card holders only)

You can borrow audiobooks, ebooks, videos using your local library card.

Get it on Google Play 



Kid's radio stations from around the world


List of kids' books in Russian language.

List of Russian Children's Cartoons and Movies.


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

You might also like reading:

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

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

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

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

I already wrote an article in regards of a parent, who stopped speaking the minority language to her son: "No English! Motivation is the key". Recently I read another article published in The New Republic -  "For Three Years, I Spoke Only Hebrew to My Daughter. I Just Gave It Up. Here's Why".

The author, who is a father and a senior editor at The New Republic, stopped speaking the minority language ( Hebrew) to his three years old daughter.

He lists many reasons why he decided to stop speaking his heritage language to his child:

  - Different personality in heritage language vs country language. (He find himself not as funny in Hebrew as in English.)

  - Parental competition for attention.

  - Parent identity issues.

But if you read the article, you can also find OTHER REASONS , the author prefers not to talk about them as much.

   - Bilingual child's resistance to speaking minority language.
As he says,  at age of 3, 5 years his "...daughter understands Hebrew and will even speak it under duress."   Under duress means under pressure or force. 

   - Lack of vocabulary for communication on different topics.
"But the older my daughter got, the less plausible the whole routine felt. Last fall, she started going to pre-school five days a week. Like any parent, I was keen to know what she’d been up to all day."... It also occurred to me that I was getting nowhere—my daughter was clamming up."

She was not saying things just because she did not know the words in Hebrew. Her life at preschool is all in English. Someone needed to tell her how to say in minority language all what she was experiencing.

Would you ever stop speaking your heritage language, if the child is responsive and eager to do so? Probably not.

In most of the cases a child does not want to speak the parents language just because s/he does not know the words. This is the initial stage and later more reasons grow on this one.

Parents, who live outside of their language home country, can not just speak to their child and expect that the child will pick up the language the same way other children, who live in the country and learn their country language, do.

You need to start early with activities related to language development , such as reading aloud and direct interaction with your child, and be persistent in your efforts.

If your goal is to have a child who speaks your heritage language fluently, you or someone else ( nanny, school, tutors) has to work on it.  And work hard.  Sorry, there is no other way, if you are the only parent who tries to pass on your mother tongue and your goal is to have a child who speaks the language and not just understands it.

Here are the steps of successfully raising a bilingual child, the way I see them:


1. Start speaking to your child early and use any opportunity to do so.

The early you start the better. As I already mentioned in the language strategies for parents, your child can hear you speaking even when he is in the womb. Ok. I was not speaking to my child  my heritage language so early, but for some of you it might be a useful piece of information. You can start preparing yourself and your child :)

The best way to start building  your child's vocabulary and maximize the language learning is by taking your bilingual baby on a stroll. 

It is also a good idea to keep speaking your language to your child in public.  

2. Start reading to your child early. Read a lot. Everyday. Several times a day.

For tips read:

Bilingual child: when to start reading to your baby?

Bilingual children: How to read to a baby?

Child rips books apart ?  Alicia found a way to keep books safe and to read to her child.

3. Start  preparing your child for reading  and  teach your child to read in minority language  early

While your child is still small, letter learning will be just like another game for him. Do not miss this unique opportunity!
Read these articles on the topic:

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

Teaching the letter sounds before letter names.

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

4. Be proactive in introducing new vocabulary. 

If you see your child is interested in playing , let's say, with boats, try to provide the needed vocabulary in the language you are exposing your child to.  Play, talk, read books about boats, show cartoons and documentaries on the topic. He will absorb the words faster as he uses them in his games over and over again.  
If you see your child learned something new in the community language, rush to introduce the same in minority language.

5. Draw together with your child. 

This is time when you can talk, learn new words, practice writing letters and words. Experiment: Mixing art, material objects and imagination - a recipe for language development 

6. Sing to your child and with your child.

Small children love music and songs. They are able to learn so many words just from this fun activity.

Looking for nursery songs in Russian?
Русские колыбельные песни. Колыбельная песня для двойняшек.

7. Be creative.

You would need to come up with new activities for extending your child's vocabulary on different variety of subjects. Experiment and look for things that can trigger new words learning and/ or a conversation.

8. Use media.

Differentiating the ways a child receive the language input is always good. However, you should try to avoid using media before your child turns 2 years old. Researchers tell us it is not good for a child to watch television at this age. Plus small children learn best from direct interactions with them. However, after this age, media in minority language (such as games, cartoons and movies ...) can provide a lot of language support. Children learn more about your culture and remember many words and expressions from the new digital world you open to them.  But remember, your child still needs you!  I like the way Maria puts it in her life story: “Life Story of one family. Educational Apps – How they affect multilingual development of small children?
Also do not forget about radio! Your children can listen to it while they play. Here is the list of children's radio stations from around the world. 

I wish you best of luck on your multilingual journey! It is such a joy to see your child speaking your language, especially when you don’t live in your home country!

What does help YOU successfully pass your mother tongue onto your bilingual child?

Contact me to be interviewed or join others in the Life story series by sharing your own or your multilingual family story.

You might also like:

Plan to raise a bilingual or multilingual child, but not sure where to start? - Click to read

Get inspired by reading  bilinguals and multilinguals Life Stories

Can babies distinguish foreign languages?

How to prepare yourself to be a speaking model for your child. 

Should I correct my child speaking?

Inspirational Quotes about Language for Bilinguals and Language Learners 

Bilingualism and speech delay. How can you help? 

Fun way to learn letters and start writing: What should I order? Mortadella alphabet! 

Naming languages with their proper name. 

Other language resources:

Children's radio from around the world. Let me know, if I am missing a radio station in your language.

Kids Books in Russian

Best Russian Children's Cartoons and Movies. - Лучшие Руссие Детские Мультфильмы и Фильмы.

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

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

Monday, April 20, 2015

Inspirational Quotes about Language for Bilinguals and Language Learners

Nelson Mandela said, "If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart." "But what if you do not speak his language??? - Sing!" adds Galina Nikitina from Raising a Trilingual Child

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Pros and Cons of Raising a Trilingual Child.

trilingual child pros and cons


Raising a Trilingual Child Is Not Always a Bed of Roses.

by Nathalie Vieweger

I was raised trilingual from birth. My mother was Dutch, my father - German and the community language was (often) English. I am a TCK - Third Culture Kid.

I am now raising a trilingual child myself (English, Dutch and Spanish) as his father is English and we live in Spain.

I used to go to international schools, and I’m a teacher at a bilingual school, so I have seen my fair amount of bilingual children. Read my full story:  Trilingual mama - trilingual kid. Why would it be any other way?

As much as I am a supporter of raising a child multilingual, I also see many parents struggle with their decision to raise their child in more than one language. Generally information and articles one can find on trilingualism are predominantly pro raising a child with more than one language. They seem to just surpass the struggles involved in a trilingual upbringing.

I have decided to show both sides of a (in this case) trilingual upbringing.

Bearing in mind that what I am writing is based on my experiences and my opinion I invite you to have a look at my perspective on this matter.

Looking back as an adult

I can not express how grateful I am for having been brought up trilingually.

I have learned the languages effortlessly and have had many opportunities other (monolingual) peers did not have. My being “native” in three languages looks fantastic on my CV and it has opened doors that would otherwise have been shut.

My personal identity is based on my three languages. The languages of my thoughts and dreams vary in different situations. The languages I speak are linked to the culture they belong to, having broadened my view of the world. I have become more open-minded (I believe) than my peers.

My nicest memory of being trilingual must be going to a restaurant in the Netherlands with three of my (multilingual) friends. With four of us at the table mixing French, English, German and Dutch effortlessly, and the conversation making sense to all of us, we noticed being stared at by all the other visitors of the restaurant. I think all four of us realized at that moment, how special our conversation was to others, and we couldn’t help but be filled with pride. Being unique in this way certainly is a beautiful thing.

Also, thanks to my upbringing, I have been able to learn a fourth language with less effort than a monolingual person would have. 

Having said that, and again pointing out how grateful I am, must admit that there have been quite a lot of downsides to my trilingual upbringing.

Mainly, the fact that I do not speak any of the three languages completely accent-free or flawlessly. That is to say, I do not have a strong accent, and native speakers of either of the languages say I almost sound like a native… almost… in all three languages !!

Because of that, many times people have asked me where I was from (a difficult question anyway for TCKs, and moreover trilingual ones).
Apparently I am not a native in any language.
Maybe the point of not being completely native has had an effect on the way I see myself as well as the way others see me. At work sometimes I get complimented about the difficult sentence structure I use (any monolingual person would be downright insulted), with friends I often struggle to find the nuances in certain discussions, making me sound tactless or just not very smart.

I struggle to separate the languages fully, so I translate proverbs or sayings literally into the other language, or I use complicated long German sentence structures while writing Dutch. Making it look like I don not grasp the concept of a full stop.

I personally believe something gets lost along the way, the thing native people just grasp. Many of my friends at the European school struggle with the same issues now they are adults.

I would say being a trilingual person has filled me with a sense of pride riddled with a faint feeling of incompetence.

Observing my trilingual son

So now I am on road to raising my own trilingual child.

My son is 2.5 now, and I am proud to say he is in fact becoming pretty trilingual. He is starting to differentiate the languages, speaking to his dad in English, speaking to me in Dutch and to his teachers in Spanish.

Am I proud of it? Very much so!

But the poor kid does struggle at times.

I sometimes wish he would be able to say what he wants to everybody, without having to think what language they understand. He excitedly wants to tell his dad that he has seen something, and then gets a confused look as an answer. He tries to tell his teacher he came to school by bike, she looks at him blankly, asking me to translate. The moment has gone and he goes off to do something else. I feel he is at times missing out on basic social interactions, and with that important connections to the people around him, that monolingual children naturally have. He seems to have to make an extra effort.
Obviously in the future he will be much more capable of separating the languages, but for now it is a bit of a downside.

Something I just recently noticed that is definitely a down-side of raising a trilingual child is the following: Very often my partner and I spend time together with our little boy. Making jokes, playing or reading books. As Daniël was not speaking a lot, we would usually both speak our own language to him. Recently Daniël has started speaking more…and there the conflict within him started. We were talking about pictures in a book when Daniël excitedly wanted to say something. He looked at Rich, then back at me, then back to Rich until he finally decided to talk in Dutch … to me. He most obviously had a bit of an issue deciding what language to speak, in the end leaving his dad out of the conversation. These loyalty-issues will come up more often until he realizes that we both understand English. I felt bad for him for feeling he had to chose between his mama or his dad.

Struggles for us as parents

As my partner doesn’t speak Dutch, we speak English together. When I speak to Daniël I generally speak Dutch. But when we are all together it seems a bit strange to first say something in Dutch to my son, and then translate it into English. Obviously, as he is just 2, we don’t really have any interesting, translation-worthy conversations.
But it won’t be long before either my partner feels left out, I translate a lot of our conversations, or I speak English to both in family situations.

In my opinion following the “trilingual rule-book” is secondary to all members of the family feeling comfortable when we are together.

Something else is speaking to your child in public in a minority language, when it sounds like gobbledygook to everybody. The Dutch language sounds like somebody is having a stroke - and a serious one. We get many looks from people when they hear us speak. Obviously that does not stop me from speaking to Daniël in Dutch. But I would be lying if I said it doesn’t make me feel awkward at times. I worry about Daniëls reaction to this in the future, at some point it will be humiliating for him.

What really gets me crabby however, are people correcting him. His Dutch and English being treated as if he is making a mistake. In a local bar he shows his car to the staff. He enthusiastically claims: “Car!!”. The staff shake their head and say “No Daniel, es un coche!!” as if he made a mistake.


Raising a trilingual child is not the easiest route to take. In the modern world full of mixed couples and expats it is, however, a necessary route for many.

If your main (or even only) goal is to make your child speak more than one language, it is not very complicated. Speak to your child in your language and expose him/her to it as much as possible.

Difficulties arise when

      the minority language is not spoken by both parents,

      the minority parent is uncomfortable speaking their language in public,

      the child finds it difficult to distinguish between the languages, or

      the child, as an adult feels incompetent in all languages.

My advice is ask yourself if you are willing to take the challenges of raising a child with more than one language.
Are you willing to be looked at in a strange manner by the community?
Are you willing to speak to your child in a language your spouse doesn’t understand?

I am, but up to a certain point.
The OPOL (one person one language) approach is something I strongly believe in. But I believe that the well being of all of my family members is far more important. I will, therefore, not always speak the minority language with my son.
I find it hard to accept the funny looks, when I speak gobbledygook with my child, but know it is the price I have to pay. I would have preferred to raise my little boy in one language, or two at the most, but our situation is what it is, and it being so, I am very proud of my little trilingual monkey/aap/mono. And I know he will be, as I am myself, very grateful for the gift of languages.


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!

Bilingual Multilingual families Find a playdate in your language

You might also like reading

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

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

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

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

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

Listen to  kids radio in your language ! 

Still undecided what language to speak to your child? Read about possible language strategies.

And read my answers to parents questions in Question and Answer series.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Visiting Italy in Spring. Your picture guide.

Have ever you wonder where you should go for vacation this spring? My answer is ITALY!

With not so many tourists around (the country starts getting packed from May on wards) you get to experience the gorgeous Italian spring just like a native!!!

I know what springs are like in Russia, Germany and the States. Spring in Italy is actually a real season that lasts long! The Italian spring colors will leave an imprint in your memories .

What are you waiting for? Just take a break from cold to indulge with some sun and colors!

My picture tour will help you to get some inspiration :)

Do you see plants, flowers that you know? When do they bloom in your country? Leave a comment with the country name and the plant/ flower name in your language.


NOTE: Pictures are taking in the Northern part of Italy. Please contact me, if you'd like to use any of these pictures.

Acacia dealbata or Mimosa (March)

Almond tree blossoms (March)

Bumble bee and blooming tree (March)

Flowering Rosmary (March) 


Reb Robin (March)

Primula flowers  (March)

Dandelion (March)

Calla (March)

White wildflower (March)

Hairy Violet (March)

Cherry tree blossoms (April)

Pear tree blossoms (April)

Globularia punctata (May)


Wild Viola (May)


More photos to come ...

NOTE: Pictures are taking in the Northern part of Italy. Please contact me, if you'd like to use any of these pictures.

You might like reading:

Why You Should Visit Italy During Winter Holiday Season and Why You Should Not.

Pros and Cons of Raising a Trilingual Child.

Listen to Kids Radio in your language! Great list of radio stations for kids.