Google+ Raising a Trilingual Child: What language do multilingual siblings speak to each other?


Monday, June 17, 2013

What language do multilingual siblings speak to each other?

The two questions that I have right now are: what language my children will speak to each other after the younger child goes to a kindergarten? And most importantly: What can I do to support them to speak the minority language, in this case Russian?

I have an almost 2 year old daughter and a 4 year old son. As of today they speak Russian to each other, with some occasional Italian.

Knowing that I have little time to teach my children Russian, I started early to develop their language skill.  My strong influence on them will end, when my daughter goes to a kindergarten. There she will spend time with the Italian speaking teachers and friends joining in it to my son. They will be in different classrooms; however, for one year they will be sharing the kindergarten's play ground. I expect all these factors will push them to speak Italian to each other.

At home I keep control of the situation by my presence. The children speak Russian to each other when I am around. It works beautifully. I periodically check on them asking some questions so that their mind does not wonder in the languages but stays on one,  in my case Russian.

I hope that spending the summer vacation together will create a better bond to Russian as well.

If their are parents out there that know other tricks to stimulate siblings to speak a minority language to each other, please share with us your secrets to success.

You might also like reading:

How much time do we have to influence a child's minority language development?

How to read to a baby? 

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


  1. Be persistant! And don't give up! Bribery works, so does praise!

  2. We go to a Russian Saturday school, so we are keeping up our language that way. Though I have noticed that kids in Russian school most often speak English to each other once they're on their own. Our girls are 8 and 4. The 4 year-old still doesn't speak English much, the 8 year-old tried a few times, but I told her that's not permitted. And now the little one complains whenever the older one forgets and starts speaking English. Another thing that keeps the language on the forefront for them is reading Russian books. We have been reading to both of them at bedtime and that's actually how I found your blog - I am looking for things to read that will be interesting to both.

  3. Hi Olga!
    Thank you for writing! It is wonderful to know that your bilingual children speak minority language to each other. I will consider to send my children to a Russian Saturday school. There are a few in Milan. Insisting on speaking Russian only works.
    I hope you found my Russian Book's page helpful. I just updated it with more great books that will be easy enough to follow for 4 years old and still interesting to read to 8 years old. I also created a list of Russian books for elementary school children as we already have some in our home library. Let me know what you think and if you have any great authors and book titles to share. We are constantly on a lookout for some great Russian books to expand our children library :)