You have a list of languages you would like your child to speak, but you do not know how to go about it and how to introduce the languages.
The typical questions of parents who are "freshmen" in the field :
There are two very successful and popular strategies in raising bilingual children, that with some modifications also apply to trilingual and multilingual children.
1. One person - one language strategy.It is also called One Parent One Language or OPOL strategy.
One parent always speaks one language to the child and the other always speaks another.
For instance, the father always speaks Italian to the child and the mother always speaks Russian. The country language can be either one of the two, or the third one - English. You can read about my family strategy.
2. Minority Language at Home strategy (ML@H).When both partners and family members speak one language at home, and the child learns the community or dominant language outside the house walls.
As an example, all family members (the household) speak English at home, when country language is Italian.
These strategies can be used with some modifications in raising multilingual children.
3. Time and Place strategy (T&P) for separating two and more languages."Bilingualism and speech delay. How can you help?" article.
If families relocate and parents support child's new or previous language acquisitions, the child can become from bilingual to trilingual, quadrilingual and multilingual even if the parents speak only one language.
From the mother's point of view, I suggest to stop your choice on your mother tongue, because all the lullabies and nursery songs you heard, when you were a baby yourself, were in that language.
When you have your child in the arms, the songs and the words you heard as a child naturally come out from you.
It might be hard to start speaking the language you have not used for a while. I had experienced it myself. You just need to start speaking to your child all the time, since he is born, using your mother tongue and eventually you will feel confident using that language.
You might speak a language in which you see no benefit for your child in learning. Please first ask yourself if your child needs that language knowledge to communicate with the grandparents or relatives? Do not take away this possible bound and enjoyment from your child!
If, after giving it a good thought, you still decide not to teach your child your mother tongue, know that you still can help your child dramatically by joining your spouse and speaking his or her mother tongue to the child ( this is the case when it is different from the community language). You can even benefit as a family from sticking to Minority language at home strategy. Having a normal conversation as a family, without interruptions for translation is a plus.
reading to your child early, when he is still a baby. The time is crucial here, as you need to create a language base in the minority language, before the majority language becomes stronger and starts taking over. The more time and energy you invest in your child, the better is the result.
If your relatives are fluent in some other minority language, you can ask them to always speak it to your child. Consistency is key even here. Decide together with the relatives what language they would speak to your child.
You would need to read A LOT to your child. If possible, in the morning and in the afternoon.
Talk to your child in the targeted language all the time from the moment he was born or even during the pregnancy. According to the research published by Psychological Science journal, infants that were spoken to two different languages during the pregnancy were showing interest to both languages compare to monolinguals. It insures the attention and future learning of the languages he has already heard spoken.
You need to insure that your child receives enough language exposure. How much is enough? There is no scientifically proofed number. You just need to make sure that your input is consistent day after day and that your child learns the vocabulary from different life situations. Thus, if you are a working parent, you might think of hiring a nanny speaking less dominant language first, then to send your child to an immersion school. You need to develop a long run plan from the birth onwards, which you will modify as your child grows and according to your family situation.
My best wishes to you in your journey to a happy multilingual family!
Also you might have similar questions as the parents, who commented after the post Exposing your kids to languages.
9 Steps of Raising a Bilingual Child Successfully. How to Start So You Don't Feel Giving It Up Halfway Through.