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Monday, June 18, 2018

11 Signs You Are A Mother Of A Trilingual Child


Parenting is hard. Parenting is challenging. Being a parent of a trilingual child has its own perks.
You know you are a mother of a trilingual child when...




1. At least once (in my case it is about 172625 times) in your early parenting life, you googled “average number of words spoken at age….” and got puzzled whether or not you should count the same meaning words from different languages more than once, so you googled it, too (also around 352 times).

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2. You made a list of words s(he) spoke correctly in an excel file on your computer, got a print out and hang it on your fridge; and with that word list, you and your spouse ran an unspoken contest on whose language is winning so far.

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3. Between ages 1-3, your child burst into tears because no one understood her “3 languages in one sentence” style of talking and you cried with her, too.


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4. Sometime around age 2,5, your child makes her first grammatically super correct long sentence and you burst into tears of joy and success. Even if it is something like:“Mama, I made poop into my pants”.

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5. Your child is in “selective language usage period”: You speak one language to your child, s(he) answers you in another. You stick on. S(he) sticks even more. People don’t understand why you do that and you are bored of explaining, so you say: I am using my child as a personal “Tandem Partner” and we teach each other languages. People think you are crazy and leave you alone.

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 6. Your 3 year old comes home one day totally puzzled and asks you “Why her best friend can not speak English?” and you try to explain why. “She can not even understand it???? but everyone understands English!” The remaining week passes like “That man can not speak English, neither, mommy?”... “how about this woman standing there?”... “What about this child with red hat, mommy?”

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7. At age 4, your child speaks at least 1 language better than you and 1 language better than her/his father.

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8. Your weakest language allows you pretty well to communicate in your daily life, but when you speak it around your 4 year old and her friends, you feel yourself like a 2 year old. Especially when your 4 year old child apologize on your behalf of you in front of another 4 year old child, telling “mama can not speak German so good, but you know, she speaks many other languages like I do..” you feel “proudly shamed” (yes, that feeling exists, obviously..)

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9. Every now and then, you ask your 4 year old to translate a word for you. And sometimes you pretend like you understood what she means, to save both of you from more shame, but your 4 year old rephrase it to your level (which is really double-shameful).

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10. People who once told you: “You are pushing her too much! She is struggling, please drop at least one or two languages...” tell you “WOW, she can speak all those languages in this age? She must be a genius!”

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11. You met at least once in your early parental years, a “professional” who suggests you to “drop a language or even two” and you changed that “professional” to the other one who actually supports you with your choices. And if you didn't, you met a speech therapist who charged you minimum 10 visits and finally a psychologist for yourself to tell you “there is nothing wrong about your child, that's how she is trying to learn multiple languages at the same time, give her time and support, that's all she needs. Eventually she will figure it out her own way”.

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Written by Ceren Schubert


Caren Schubert - MA developmental psychology and clinical nauropsychology


Ceren Schubert  - Contributing writer from Munich, Germany. She holds double Masters degrees in Developmental Psychology and Clinical Neuropsychology, who choose to give a break on her PhD career to be SAHM of two trilingual (to be) children. When she is not full time parenting; she is also an enthusiastic traveller off the beaten tracks, a passionate blogger, and enjoys being around open minded, colorful and multi cultural people.

She loves dogs a bit more than cats, malaga a bit more than vanilla ice cream, coffee a bit more than sleeping, and summer a lot more than winter. She also loves walking very long distances when she needs to think and sometimes (often) gets lost doing that.. Her latest “project” is learning Qigong, which she started just recently and loved a great deal!

Oh and, she dreams of writing a book one day.


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 of one?  Would you like to take part in the Multilingual Family Interview series ? You can contact me here.


Recommended Books for Parents Raising Trilingual Children

Language Strategies for Trilingual Families: Parents' Perspectives (Parents' and Teachers' Guides) by Andreas Braun  - Kindle  - Paperback

Growing up with Three Languages: Birth to Eleven (Parents' and Teachers' Guides) by Xiao-lei Wang  - Kindle - Paperback

Trilingual by Six: The sane way to raise intelligent, talented children by Lennis Dippel MD - Kindle - Paperback

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Is your child learning how to read? Let him have fun by reading this activity book available in Russian, Italian and English.

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