Google+ Raising a Trilingual Child: 2014


Monday, December 22, 2014

Find a Playdate in YOUR Language

I know how it is sometimes hard to find a platedate for your child. It is even harder, if you are a multilingual family and looking for a playdate in your language.

With a thought of you and with a wish to help many multilingual parents around the word, I offer you an opportunity to find each other just simply filling out the form below and waiting for a match to occur.

Try it!

There might be a great family living next to you down the block, with whom you will be able to share the joy and worries of raising multilingual children!

It is simple!

In the form below put

The city and the country you live in.

Language you would like to speak during a playdate.
There is also a field to add another language , if you are interested in more than one.

The child's year of birth, in order to match the families with children of the same age whenever is possible.

And your email address to send the matched family contact info. Your email will be kept confidential and will be used strictly to make a contact with other families. If you are interested to subscribe to the Raising a Trilingual Child newsletter, you would need to follow this link or use a form on the webside's side bar.

Feel free to share the information about this opportunity with others!

Friday, December 12, 2014

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

I am keeping the promise I made last year to tell you more about Christmas in Italy. And will tell you why you should visit Italy during Christmas and why you should not.

Winter in Italy is cold and not sunny if you listen to Italians living there.  Visitors from northern parts of this world would not agree with that statement.  Take Milan, one of the biggest cities up north; it has on average 11 sunny days in December.  Yes, there is thick morning fog some mornings.  But it is beautiful!  You feel like the famous Russian hedgehog in the fog!  I love this cartoon, BTW!  Watch it, if you have not seen it.  It also has English subtitles!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Life Story: A language story that spans two centuries.

If you are undecided whether you should pass your mother tongue onto your child or not, read this story. 
Lets take a look at the way international families life was back in the last century. 
Back then, parents had many obstacles in preserving and passing their mother tongue onto their children.  
I can only say: Today we are very lucky! We have so much support coming from all around us! Let's make sure that our children can speak at least two languages because, as Danuta Rosevear says, "... knowing a language well also means understanding other people’s desires, needs and worries..."

Monday, November 24, 2014

International, Bilingual schools and Early childhood education institutions in Rome, Italy


International and bilingual nursery, preschool, elementary, middle and high schools in Rome, Italy

If you live in Rome and are looking for an international school, a bilingual school or early childhood institution, or a school with French, English, Russian, German, Spanish as a primary language for your child look at this kindergarten and school's list.


Could you help make this list more complete?

I’d love your help so this list can be as complete as possible.

Is there a bilingual daycare or school in Rome, Italy that is not listed here?

Let me know by leaving a comment on this post or emailing at trilingualchildren [at] I’ll be happy to share it with other parents.  I hope this school list comes in handy for you either you are Italian and would like your child to learn a new language or an expat living in Rome.

Share your experience.

If your child attends or attended one of these schools, please leave a comment and tell us what you think about it.

What is named what in Italian Education.

Compulsory education in Italy is from 5 - 16 years, which includes 5 years of "Scuola Primaria" (Elementary school), 3 years of "Schuola Secondaria di primo grado" ( Middle School) and 2 years of
Scuola Secondaria di secondo grado ( High School)

Below are names of educational institutions in Italian and children's age:

"Asilo Nido"  (3 month - 3 years) 

"Scuola dell'Infanzia" or "Asilo" or "Scuola Materna"or ( 3 - 6 years)
Note: An earlier entrance is possible for children, who turn 3 years before 31 December based on availability.

"Scuola Pimaria" or "Scuola Elementare" ( 6 - 10 years)

"Scuola Secondaria di primo grado"  or "Scuola Media" or "Scuola Media Inferiore" (11-13 years)

"Scuola Secondaria di secondo grado" or Schuola Media Superiore (14-19 years)
different choice of schools: 
  • Liceo (Artistico, Classico, Linguistico, Musicale e Coreutico, Scientifico , delle Scienze Umane),  
  • Istituto Tecnico (Economico, Tecnologico )  
  • Istituto Professionale

If you'd like to learn more about Italian education system, read this article on Wikidedia

If you use any information form this website, please link back to me. Thank you!

List of Schools:


La Maisonnette
Trilingual School : Nursery school, Kindergarten, Elementary school, Summer school
Language: English - French - Italian

AGE: 3 month and up

Main school:
Via Treviso
29 00161 Roma
Tel. +39 06 44240517

Affiliated Centers:
Viale del Monte Oppio 7
00184 Roma
Tel. +39 06 4873185

Viale dell'Umanesimo 72-74
00144 Roma
Tel. +39 06 5910339

Via Alessandro Rolla, 5
00124 Infernetto (Roma)
Tel. +39 06 5053422

Via Olmetti 3z
00060 Formello (Roma)
Tel. +39 06 90405045
Cell. +39 3888708673

Via Tripolitania 175/181
00199 Roma
Tel. +39 06 86214960

Viale Liegi 48/c
00198 Roma
Tel: +39 06 64780765
Cell +39 333 4497994

Asilo Nido " Villa delle Rondine"
Bilingual Nursery
Language: French - Italian and English
Age: 3 month -  3, 5 years
Via delle Fornaci 251-265
00165 Roma
Tel. +39 06 45434731
Cell +39 339 3950192

Lycée Chateaubriand
Kindergarden,  Primary and Secondary School
Language: French 
Age: 3 - 17
Via di Villa Ruffo, 31 (Kindergarden)
00196 Roma
Tel: +39 06 441604501
Via di Villa Patrizi, 9 (Elementary school)
00161 Roma
Tel: +39 06 441604501

Institut Saint Dominique
Baby Parking, Kindergarten, Primary and Secondary School
Language: French
Age: 13 month - 17 years
Via Igino Lega 5 / Via Cassia 1173
00189 Roma
Tel: +39 06 30310817

I Piccoli Delfini
Asilo Nido and  Bilingual Kindergarten ( Scuola Materna )
Languages: Italian - English, French
Activities for children age 4 - 10 years in English and French
Age: 0 - 6 years
via Giovanni Botero, 16a
00179 Roma
Cell  +39 392 3555513 - 320 0140352 - 329 5912920 - 320 0140086

Le Fate Turchine
Asilo Nido and Scuola Materna, Course of French for children once a week, plus private lessons, Theater for children in English ( age 3-6, 7-11 years)
Language: Italian , French once a week as a lesson, English theater
Age: 1 - 7 years
Via delle Fornaci di Tor di Quinto, 10
00191 Roma
Tel. +39 06 62280465


The Giving Tree
Bilingual Asilo Nido, Scuola dell'infanzia & English playgroup
Languages: Italian - English
Age: 3 month - 6 years
viale XXI Aprile 15
Tel. +39 06 83709708
Cell. +39 327 1959967

Bilingual Asilo Nido and Scuola Infanzia
Languages: English - Italian
Age: 4 month - 5 years
via del Casale Cavallari 14,
00156 Roma
Tel. 06 41222128
Cell +39 329 0783752

Little Star Daycare International School
Nursery and Kindergarten
Language: English
Age: 4 month - 5 years
via Cassia 344
00191 Roma
Tel. +39 06 33429578
Cell. +39 348 5450050

Il Nido e le Nuvole
Asilo Nido Bilingue & English courses for children 4-8 years old
Languages: English - Italian
Age: 4 month - 5 years
via Nomentana 331/A,
00162 Roma
Tel +39 06 45436798

ABC kids
Language: English
Age: 2,5 month - 6 years
via Giovanni Animuccia, 11
Tel +39 06 86206599

Greenwood Garden School
International Pre-school and Kindergarten
Language: English
Age: 2 - 6 years 
Via Vito Sinisi 5
00189 Roma
Tel. 063326-6703

Petranova International Institute
Asilo Nido, Scuola della Infanzia, Scuola Primaria, Scuola Secondaria di 1° Grado
Bilingual project 
Languages: Italian, English from age 4
Age:3 month - 13
Via Pavia, 23
00161 Roma
Tel. +39 06 44292551

Junior International Institute
Bilingual Elementary School (Scuola Primaria Bilingue), Secondary school ( Scuola Secondaria di 1° Grado)

Language: Italian - English
Age: 6 - 13 years
Via G.B. De Rossi, 48
00161 Roma
Tel. +39 06 44239356

Ambrit International School
Early Childhood,  Primary,  Middle School
Language: English
Age: 3 - 13 years
Via F. Tajani 50
00149 Rome
Tel. +39 06 5595305

American Overseas School of Rome
Pre-Kindergarten , Elementary , Middle,  High School,  Boarding
Language: English is the primary language.  All students study Italian. Other languages offered include Spanish, French and Mandarin.
Age: 3- 18 years
Via Cassia 811
00189 Roma
Tel. +39 06 334381

Castelli Kindergarten
Language: English
Age: 2,5 -6 years
Via dei Laghi, 8
00047 Marino (Roma)
Tel. +39 06 93661311

Castelli International School Rome
International, Bilingual Elementary and Middle School
Languages: English, Itaian
Age: 6-13 years
Via degli Scozzesi, 13
00046 Grottaferrata (Roma)
Tel. +39 06 94315779 

Core International School in Rome
Nursery,  Primary School
Language: English , Italian starts from age 5
Age: 3 - 11 years
Via Crati 19
00199 Roma
Tel. +39 06 8411137

Marymount International School
Early Childhood to Grade 12
provided ESL teacher support
Language: English
Age: 3 - 17 years
Via di Villa Lauchli 180 (Via Cassia Antica Km. 7)
00191 Roma
Tel. +39 06 3629101

Rome International School
Kindergarten , Elementary, Middle and High School
Languages: English
Age: 2-18 years
Via Panama, 25
00198 Roma
tel. +39 06 84482650 - 06 84482651

St. Francis International School
Early Childhood , Primary and Middle School
Language: English
Age: 3 - 13 years
Via S. Borgia 85
00168 Roma
Tel. +39 06 35511023

St. George's  British International School
Preschool, Elementary, Middle and High school
Language: English
Age: 3-18 years
Via Cassia Km. 16
00123 Roma
Tel. +39 06 3086001

St. Stephen's School
Day and Boarding International High School
Language: English is required as a first language, Italian and French are optional as first languages
Age: 14 -19 years
Via Aventina 3
00153 Roma
Tel. +39 06 5750605

Southlands English School in Rome
Nursery, Primary and Secondary Schools
Language: English, French and Italian from age 5
Age: 3- 18 years
Via Teleclide 40
00124 Casalpalocco (Roma)
Tel. +39 06 5053932

The New School Rome
Nursery, Kindergarten, Primary, Secondary School
Language: English
Age:  3- 18 years
Via della Camilluccia 669
00135 Roma
Tel. +39 063294269

Kendale Primary International School
Pre-school, Elementary School
Language: English is the primary language, Italian, French introduction from 7 years
Age:3-10 years
Via Gradoli, 86
Rome, 00189
Tel. +39 06 33267608

Little Genius International
Nursery and Primary School, Children's Afterschool English language course, Playgroup, Summer school
Language: English is the primary language, Italian (daily lessons)
Age: 2-10 years
Via Grotte Portella 28
Frascati 00044 (RM)
Tel. +39 06 97245148
Mobile: +39 346 0823360



Secondary School of Russian Embassy in Rome
Cредняя школа при посольстве России в Италии
Language: Russian
Age: 6 - 16  years
Villa Abamelek
Via Cava Aurelia 199
00165 Roma
Tel.+39 06 634800, 06 4440080


La Scuola Svizzera di Roma
Bilingual Kindergarten, Elementary, Middle and High School
Language: German - Italian
Age: 2- 18 years
Via Marcello Malpighi 14
00161 Roma
Middle and high school:
via Savoia 15
00198 Roma
Tel +39 06 4402109

Deutsche Schule Rom - Scuola Germanica Roma
Kindergarten, Primary and Secondary School
Two diplomas: German abitur and Italian maturità
Languages: German with  excellent  knowledge of Italian, English, Latin and French
Age: 3 - 18 years
Via Aurelia Antica 397-403
00165 Roma
Tel. +39 06 6638 776


Liceo Espanol Cervantes
Kindergarten, Primary and Secondary School
Language: Spanish
Age: 3 - 18 years
Via di Porta San Pancrazio, 9
00153 Roma
Tel. +39 06 5882252

You might also like:

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

Can babies distinguish foreign languages?

Pros and Cons of Raising a Trilingual Child 

Best Kids Radio Stations from around the world

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

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

multilingual family interview

You are a bilingual or a trilingual family living abroad.  You and your spouse have been speaking your mother tongues since the child’s birth.  And here you realize that the school time is approaching soon. You are worried how your child would do at school, since you did not teach your child the country language. 

How would he go to school in the community language?  Will he be able to communicate?  What can I do to help him?  These and many other questions I asked Richard and Agnieszka, English and Polish speakers, who found their home in Spain.  They are successfully raising trilingual children, who speak English, Polish and Spanish everyday.

Question 1:  Where do you live now and where did you live before?

Answer:  We live in Madrid. We moved here from the Netherlands in 2006 when our eldest was 18 months. He was born there. We moved without children to the Netherlands from Poland in 2003.

Question 2:  How many children do you have and what are their ages?

Answer:  Gavin will be 10 in 2 months , Veronica is 7 1/2, and Nicolas is 3 1/2.

Question 3:  Please describe your multilingual family language situation. Who speaks what language? What language approach do you follow?

Answer: My (Richard's) native language is English. Aga's is Polish. But we both speak these languages and Spanish pretty (Aga very) comfortably. My Polish is the worst, but still I almost never fail to understand conversations involving our kids.
Aga and I both only ever speak our respective native languages to the children (unless, rarely, we want some third party to understand). And the children universally speak to us in that same language.
The children (notably Veronica at the moment) do however quite often mix languages - but the syntax and base vocabulary make the language that they are fundamentally speaking very clear. The mixing is largely attaching endings from one language to words from another and in non-basic vocabulary.
Agnieszka and I speak to each other in Polish and English in roughly equal proportions.

Question 4:  At what age did your children get exposed to the community language and how (daycare, playgroups, television at home…)?

Answer:  Our kids were all introduced to Spanish in nursery school. All went for at least a year before starting school proper - which starts very early here - almost universally in the September of the calendar year when the child turns 3. Neither Gavin nor Veronica had any problems of note by the time they reached school (not even much in Nursery). Nicolas seemed to adapt similarly well to Nursery. But when he just recently started school he was slow to start speaking to his teachers. This problem seems now to have considerably faded.
Television I see as an important way to broaden their exposure to English (and Polish). But they do watch a reasonable amount to TV in Spanish.

Question 5.  What language Gavin and Veronica started speaking to each other? Did their language preference change over time?

Answer:  Until I guess about 18 months ago they still spoke to each other regularly in all three languages, Spanish having arrived last, but around then I noticed that they switched to almost always speaking Spanish.
I suspect that the first language that they spoke to each other was probably Polish, but in fact I don’t remember, so it may be that they used Polish or English depending on the context. I guess Polish because Veronica had a Polish woman looking after her during the day when she was 1-2. But at this point Gavin’s English may still have been better than his Polish.
Currently Gavin and Veronica Speak only (or almost only) Polish with Nicolas.

Question 6:  How old were the children when started a nursery school? Did I understand right that they were about 2 years old?

Answer:   Gavin was about 20 months, Veronica about 28 months, and Nicolas about 27.

Question 7.  What school did your children go to (bilingual immersion school, regular school...)?

Answer:   Bilingual in theory – part of a Madrid programme for bilingualism in state-funded schools. They are taught almost half the time in English (from 6 years old). But there are almost no other non-Spanish-native pupils, and English is not used at all apart from in lessons.

Question 8.  What languages as subject do they study there?

Answer:  English is taught from 3, and more seriously from 6. I worry a bit that this could bore our kids, but it doesn’t seem to have been a big problem yet. Gavin, I believe, has mostly learned only spelling in lessons at school, so I expect it is or will be, at best, a significant waste of time.
They are also taught French, at low intensity, from 6.

Question 9.  When your children went to school, how did they integrate? What was their proficiency level of community language? Were you and / or teachers concerned?

Answer:  We had sent them to nursery specifically to help avoid this sort of problem. And it seemed to work better than I expected. Even just one year.
The teachers were a little concerned initially – but positive. Gavin’s first teacher – a veteran of probably 30 years’ experience and a very good teacher it turned out – shocked me by telling me that he had NEVER had a non-Spanish-native child in his class. There are almost no immigrants in the area we are in.
However Gavin and Veronica may have been a little quiet at first, but when I ask about their level of Spanish I was told it was indistinguishable from that of the other kids. As mentioned earlier, Nico was even more quiet, but is now improving.

Question 10.  What did you do, if anything, to support your children at school?

Answer:  I use Khan Academy with both Gavin and Vero for maths. But with regard to language there has been no need.

Question 11:  What language do you speak to them, when you help them with homework?

Answer:  (Richard) English, throwing in the odd Spanish word to make sure they know it for class. Except when (only occasionally) helping with Spanish language homework in which case I speak Spanish mostly.

Question 12:  What do you think is important for a parent to do or pay attention to in order to insure that children’s knowledge of the community language is enough for performing well at elementary school?

Answer:  For us nursery was enough. More recently I also allow them to watch a fraction (maybe 1/3) of TV in Spanish. This primarily so they have the vocabulary (mostly character names etc) to talk to their school-friends.

Question 13:  Many parents are worried, that their child might have a communication problem with peers. That they are going to be teased because of an accent or inability to express her/himself in the community language at the same level as kids of their age do. Could you share your experience in this regards?

Answer:  Our kids have not to our knowledge experienced this sort of problem. Any trouble with peers has been for other reasons. We may be helped in this regard by the fact that 'school' in Spain starts so very early. Some kids are still well short of turning three - and so presumably some native monolinguals also barely speak.

Question 14:  How did you help the kids to understand how to separate 3 languages and improve their speech skills?

Answer:  We didn't do anything specific here other than try to expose them to plenty of all three languages through different media.

Question: 15:  In what language did your children learn to read and write first? Did you teach them? If yes, how did you do it?

Answer:  English. I taught Gavin and Veronica before the school started on reading. But I taught only reading - almost no writing. I used phonics books from a couple of different series (Jolly Phonics and Oxford Songbirds principally) then used a lot of Usborne graded readers. In addition I used flash cards (also from Usborne), showed then a nice BBC series, Alphablocks, and more recently used the online learning game Reading Eggs.  (Click to read more about mentioned phonics resources)

I would like to thank this wonderful family for the interview and for this unique opportunity Richard and Agneszka are giving us to learn more about what awaits us, parents to be and parents with small kids.

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!

Resources for Teaching Phonics and Reading to Children:

Alphablocks is children's educational television program. It aims to teach children how to spell with the use of animated blocks representing each letter.

Phonics with Alphablocks on Amazon

Alphablocks on YouTube

Jolly Phonics is a systematic synthetic phonics program designed to teach children to read and write. Children learn the letter sounds, rather than the alphabet. They are then taken through the stages of blending and segmenting words to develop reading and writing skills.

Jolly Phonics on Amazon

Jolly Phonics on Youtube

Oxford Songbirds make phonics fun! Series of 60 stories by Julia Donaldson. Levels 1 to 6 .

Oxford Songbirds on Amazon

Usborne First Reading - book series by Usborne publiser that is based on the principles of synthetic phonics. There are 7 books in each series and each book in the series builds on material in the previous books.

Usborne Very First Reading on Amazon 
Usborne Start to Read pack on Amazon

Usborne Very First Reading website -  learn more about the books, how they work. Information for parents and teachers. Plus resources with extra reading and wring practices. Printable sheet of practice words, fun activities and recording of the sounds of 44 phonemes

Reading Eggs - online reading application, where children are able to progress at their own rate.

Visit Reading Eggs website for more info.

Reading Eggs on Amazon

You might also like reading:

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

Teaching the letter sounds before letter names.

Planting a language tree. Does passive language learning work?

Life Story. Our trilingual story: It’s all Greek, Italian and French to me!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Good Reads: to set mood for Halloween - Gobbolino, the Witch's Cat book, audiobook, song with notes

Multilingual Reads - great books that you can find translated in different languages!

Halloween is approaching and I have a great chapter book that would put your child into the Halloween mood! Gobbolino, the Witch's Cat  is a children's novel written by Ursula Moray Williams, an English writer. It is translated into Italian, Spanish, German and Russian. Plus it is available as an audiobook in all those languages!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Life Story. Our trilingual story: It’s all Greek, Italian and French to me!

Welcome to Life Story series. Collection of stories from parents and multilinguals around the world! Today's guest is Marina -  bilingual by birth and now multilingual mama - who is telling us about her experience in raising trilingual children in Brussels. 


Marina Kaffe:  I was born in Italy and raised in Greece. My father was Greek but spoke at home (very good) Italian with my mum so at home it was Italian for me and outside Greek. It was a piece of cake to learn both. I went to university in Italy and perfectionized it there. I actually dream in both languages, some words are definitely easier in one or another language. I have, I would say, definitely a bilingual mind, split and bipolar. English I learnt at school very soon and then at the Uni. I also speak French but in no way fluently. I really find great and lots of fun learning new languages and this I think I have definitely taken because of my bilinguality.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

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


Big thanks to Emilia Pallado, who sent me this great list of children's books in Polish language so I can in turn share it with all of you! Emilia is a mother of two trilingual children, who are bilingual in Polish and Spanish from birth, and have been learning English at school.

Dear Emilia - Thank you! Dziękuję! Gracias!

Książki dla dzieci od urodzenia

Marta Bogdanowicz (opracowanie) – Rymowanki – Przytulanki - Author's books on Amazon

Jan Brzechwa - Wiersze i bajki - Author's books on Amazon

Julian Tuwim - Wiersze dla dzieci - Author's books on Amazon

Aleksander Fredro - Paweł i Gaweł - Author's books on Amazon

Maria Konopnicka dzieciom  -Author's books on Amazon


Książki dla dzieci od 3 lat

Monday, September 1, 2014

Trilingual Siblings Minority Language Progress Update. The Younger Sibling Is About to Enter Preschool.

My not yet fully trilingual daughter is 3 now. A big change is coming to our multilingual family life this fall. She will join her brother at a preschool. I closed the eyes on my worries on how it can affect siblings' minority language development and asked to assigned her to a class that is located in the same wing of my son's school building. The preschool, my children go to, has two wings with separate internal playgrounds and one big shared external playground. During bad weather months my children will meet each other everyday for a joined play with peers. I could separate them for the sake of preserving their Russian-only speech relationship, but I did not do it. The time they will spend together playing, developing their brother-sister relationship stands above my ambitious wishes for their trilingualism.

From now on I’m going to keep a closer look at how the community affects their minority language development.

I would like to sum up their progress so far. I look at their language development from a bilingual child perspective, as their third language - English - is still behind their Italian (community language) and Russian (minority language), both of which they speak equally fluently.

Bilingual siblings speak minority language only.

No matter who is around and how far I am from my children, they speak only minority language to each other. They even speak Russian among themselves, when staying with Italian grandparents. If you are raising a bilingual child and expecting a second one, check this  7 facts that can determine the language spoken between multilingual siblings.

Bilingual siblings read in the minority language.

Yes! Both of them, 3 years old and 5 years old, are reading now! Literacy is the biggest milestone in child’s development that will help him at school and in life. No stress at all. I just started early and followed these 7 simple principles to teach a child to read before school.

Planning ahead and adjusting our family language strategy
You would say: “Your children speak your heritage language to each other. It is a success.” And I would agree, that it is, so far. It proofs the importance of good planning ahead and not missing on any opportunity to expose your child to your heritage language.

When your child is born ( and even before), it is a good idea to think what your child’s language environment would be for at least next 5 years. So you can concentrate on the “right” language in the right time.

There are many things that you can not predict. In my case I found it extremely hard to stick to my plan after the birth of our second child. There was a pretty long period when both kids remained babies, because the jealousy kept the older one from growing up and acting as a toddler he was. I had to deal with issues that mothers of monolingual, bilingual or trilingual siblings deal, when their kids are very close in age. Those of you who had to go through it, know what I am talking about.
Constant plan adjustments are necessary throughout the multilingual family journey.

Do you have multilingual siblings? How was it for you when they were little?

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!

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You might also like 

Planting a language tree. Does passive language learning work?   

How Minority Language Speaking Parent Helps Bilingual Children With Homework.  

Monday, August 18, 2014

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

As I already mentioned in the 7 principles to keep in mind while teaching your child to read, before child learns to read he needs to learn how to separate  phonemes (speech sounds). It is better for parents and kids to start working on it as early as possible, since in reality it does not require anything special.  So what can you do to help your child develop phonemic awareness? - It’s quite simple: just sing, read and play. Play using the language and play with the language!

When your child is born, start singing to her/him. 

The first recorded lullaby is dating around 2000 BC. According to the researchers, lullabies prepare child's ear and brain for language.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Life Story: Sometimes knowing a language is worth it for its literature alone.

It is easy to learn languages as a baby and be bilingual from birth. But many of us, including the parents raising those lucky bilingual children, have a different story. Some were born and raised monolingual until leaving the country as teenagers, some - as adults. Andrey left his home country when he was 10 years old and moved to US with his parents. There he started a new life and learned a second language. He has also learned how to preserve his mother tongue and this gave his life a different spin - he started translating the poetry and putting his own thoughts into rhyme. He is also raising a bilingual daughter.

My name is Andrey. I was born and raised in Moscow, Russia. I remember my childhood, as most kids remember theirs, carefree and easy-going. I spend most of my summers with my grandparents, either from my mother’s side, in Pishchulino, a small village some five hours drive south of Moscow or from my father’s side, in Pyatigorsk, a city in southwestern part of Russia, known for its mountains and mineral springs. In Pishchulino, I learned how to collect mushrooms, pick berries, and play card games. In Pyatigorsk, my cousin and I would make water guns from old shampoo bottles, and run around with local kids, spraying one another. During the long winter months in Moscow, I would spend a lot of time outdoors, playing in the snow. My brother, who is six years older than I am, always had many friends and he would reluctantly drag me with him from one party to the next.

As a child, I did not ever think about the economy, politics, the army draft that was looming over my brother’s head, or future in general - that was my parents’ job, and so it was somewhat of a surprise when they had decided to follow my aunt and uncle and immigrate to New York.  I was ten at the time. I remember feeling anxious and excited at the same time, elated and depressed. I did not know what awaited me on the other side of the ocean. I knew that the chances of me coming back to Russia in the near future were slim. The evening before we left,

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

What language multilingual family speaks at the table?

Every evening the whole family is gathered at the table. We speak to each other. Kids laugh at their misbehaves.  I am getting stressed that they do not eat and that my son, who is learning to cut food with a knife, periodically waves with it and his sister follows him with a fork.  All things are like in a common family with two or more little children on board. The only difference, we add more turmoil -- we speak three languages at the table.  My children and I speak Russian to each other, my husband speaks Italian with them and English with me. Sometimes we become as laud as Italians in a restaurant, when one table tries to outshout  the others, with the only difference -- we are all seating at the same table -- in our home!

Soon our children, who are 2 and 4 years old, will grow up. The chaotic dinners should get more civilized tone. (I started writing this post some time ago, now the kids are almost 3 and 5 years old and have made significant behavioral progress :) ) Every month we are slowly getting  a chance to discuss topics that are interesting to all four of us. We use our "language scheme" (Father + Child = Italian, Child + Child and Child+Mother = Russian, Father+Mother= English) and it works for us so far. We do not get bothered by not speaking the same language. The questions I have:

Would things stay the same way after a couple of years?
Would we all feel comfortable having a conversation in all three languages at once?

It won't be a problem for me as I speak well our trilingual family languages Italian, English and Russian. It might be a slight problem for my husband. Hopefully his level of Russian will improve together as children master the language.  Everyday he tries more and more to join our conversation in Russian. The children are slowly learning English and, who knows, one day they might actually join our, for now parents only, conversations in English.

I wonder how other multilingual families "language at the table" situation evolved over time. Did you come to the common denominator and stop on one language? Or you still use all the multilingual family languages? Does it bother you not to have one single language at the table? Please leave a comment for me and readers to know what you think.

You might also like reading:

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

A family vacation, multilingual style. Are you in?

Naming languages with their proper name.

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

Friday, July 11, 2014

Child rips books apart: What should we do when reading becomes a book eating?

Does your child sit still and listen to the book you read or stays with you for a second and then starts running around picking up toys to play?  Or perhaps, even worse, he is chewing on the books checking how they taste?
In Bilingual children: How to read to a baby?  I gave some  tips on how to keep your child's attention while reading;  and I am very excite to introduce Alicja Pyszka-Franceschini, who is raising a trilingual child in Polish, English and Italian. Today she’s sharing  some great ideas on how to help you to deal with little lions at home :) 

"I really would like to read to my toddler but it’s really difficult. She moves so much or when I start reading to her she grabs the book and tears it apart,” a friend of mine said to me. I really knew what she was talking about as my little toddler was doing exactly the same thing. Pulling, biting and tearing the pages ferociously as if turning into that young and wild lion that I’ve just attempted to read to him about.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

More delight, less doubt.
Bringing up a trilingual child – the beginning


by Alicja Pyszka-Franceschini

I just came back from the hospital with my small and beautiful little boy. He was an easy-going newborn who settled himself into a nice routine very quickly. I loved holding him in my arms late at night and absorbing his peace. Blissful, wonderful peace. I felt enormously happy. I felt rewarded, blessed and enriched; but my fortune was not made of money, but of affection and attachment that strengthened and deepened with every day, unconditionally, unremittingly, and peacefully.

It was in this peace of a quietly breathing newborn baby, in a room that smelled of baby shampoo, just after midnight, that I realised that I want to bring up my son as a trilingual child, that the biggest gift my husband and I can give to him is the gift of languages, an opportunity to enter and explore his parents and grandparents' cultures and to draw strength from them.

But there are other reasons too.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Good Reads: books about Prostokvashino by Uspensky. Read or watch cartoons with English subtitles.

If you ask any child in Russia, who is Uncle Fedor, there is a big chance you will receive an answer that’s full of excitement!
Uncle Fedor is a little but very independent boy, who left the house together with his new friend - the cat. This cat not only speaks people's language and cross-stitches, but also knows the proper way to eat an open-face sandwich so it tastes better!
This wonderful story was written by Eduard Uspensky in 1973. Almost 30 years ago! And it is still loved by children.

You can also find it translated in many other languages:

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

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

Trilingual "apple" does not fall far from a trilingual "tree".

Nathalie’s parents raised their kids trilingual long before nowadays multilingual parenting book plethora and well before anyone can google everything.  They did think there was a choice!  And now the story repeats  -  Nathalie is raising her son trilingual and can’t see any other way. 

 Nathalie with Daniël (then 4 months old)
My name is Nathalie (39) and I’m  of a German and a Dutch nationality. After being born in Germany, I traveled around the world with my parents and two siblings. I currently live in Madrid, Spain. I work in a bilingual (Dutch-Spanish) primary school where I teach the toddlers and first grade. 
I am a mother of a nearly two year old boy, Daniël, who is half Dutch half English.  I am a self-proclaimed expert in both multilingualism and moving houses thanks to my upbringing.

I was raised as a trilingual child, and I'm now myself raising a second generation trilingual child, be it with other languages. Many people around us seem to think it is harsh on our child to expose him to not only two, but three languages. Others seem to think we are over challenging the little boy, just for bragging purposes. Neither could be further from the truth. As in my own upbringing, I feel there is no choice than to raise Daniël trilingual, simply because we cannot just ignore one of the three languages.

I was born in Aachen, Germany to a German father and a Dutch mother who spoke English to each other because they didn’t speak the others' language. I suppose neither of them were willing to give up their mother tongue when it came to raising us.
Camping in Kenya

Once my father had finished university he was offered a job that would imply moving all over the world for the next 20 years. The first stop was Nairobi, Kenya where my sister and I were sent to a local (English) school. At home we spoke German to my dad, Dutch to my mother and English at school.

Nathalie with her sister
As my grandparents were mortified not seeing their grandchildren growing up, my parents often recorded cassette tapes of us speaking and singing for them to listen to, which they sent to them. These tapes have become the most valuable and interesting testimonies of our language development. By the age of 3 and 5 my sister and I had formed the most complicated sentence structures applying the various grammatical rules of English, Dutch and German, using all three languages in any given sentence-depending on which parent we were talking to, the language the last song had been sung in or in whatever language a word came to mind first.
To outsiders this must have been a perfect verification against raising children in more than one language. Mind you, at the time you couldn’t google if what you were doing was right. My parents raised us trilingual with no clue as to what they were doing.

The second country (after a break in Holland) was Venezuela. We went to an American school and I think by that time my dad had learned Dutch which became the language spoken at home. I don’t actually know based on what my parents decided to leave out German-possibly it was us, the children who decided we wouldn’t speak German anymore. (I just asked my dad why we started speaking Dutch at home, and even he has no clue). As we were in a Spanish speaking country we also got Spanish lessons at school, and I suppose we learned the basics, but in leaving Venezuela, we left behind our fourth language-Spanish.

The next country was India (again after a little break in Holland) The American school had not really been what my parents had hoped for so we went to a local German school. By now (8 and 10 years old) we were obviously perfectly capable of separating the three languages we spoke and were fluent (but not native) in all three languages. The family continued to speak Dutch at home and we spoke German at school and English when out in Bombay.

Bombay, India
After India we moved back to Holland where my parents were confronted with various options as to where and in what language we would continue our schooling.  At the time our school language and home language were both good but not perfect, and the choice had to be made not knowing what country the future would bring. The choice (for which I am to this day still grateful) was the European school in Mol, Belgium. The European school gave us the possibility of being educated in all three of our languages. Be it that we had to chose which language would be our first, second and third. In the end, we went to the German section.

When it came to going to university I myself chose to go to a Dutch one, as we were living in Holland. It was at university where I became aware that I was pretty non-native in all three the languages which was quite a shocking realization to me. There I was thinking I was a right genius while getting back papers with more red than you could possibly imagine (and comments like: "This is a primary school mistake". Bit by bit my German and English disappeared to the background as I was living and studying in Holland.

I stayed in Holland till my 30th and then started to get itchy-feet and so I decided to make a plunge to Madrid-Spain. It was here that I realised how much I had missed speaking different languages - all of a sudden I would hardly ever speak Dutch. To be honest, I felt negatively towards the Dutch language, wanted nothing to do with it. I very much enjoyed speaking English most of the time and realised that my identity was actually directly linked to the Dutch language.  English became my first language again as I became an English teacher while I was struggling to learn my fourth language-Spanish.

Now (8 years later) I am still in Madrid, working at a bilingual school (Dutch-Spanish) watching “my” little bilingual toddlers learning to speak their second - and sometimes third language.

My partner is English, and I'm half Dutch-half German. We have a 1.5 year old son Daniël (imagine the struggle to find a name that sounds ok in four languages!) who is being raised trilingual as well. His dad speaks to him in English, I speak Dutch and at a day-care he learns Spanish.

When Daniël was born, we knew we had no choice but to raise him trilingual. The fact of living in Spain, being born to an Englishman and going to do his primary school in Dutch and Spanish, there was no way to chose for a monolingual or bilingual education. Therefore,  just like myself,  Daniël will grow up being non-native in all languages, but sounding like a genius to monolingual people.

I have no regrets about him growing up trilingual, and must admit that it fills me with pride that he understands basic concepts of all three languages. I have no doubt that he will, just like me, be endlessly grateful for the present of multiple languages.

Please contact me, if you are interested to participate in the Life Story series and write about your experience as a bilingual or multilingual child and/or a parent.

You might also like reading:

Can babies distinguish foreign languages?  

Life story: A Journey to Multilingualism.  

PROS and CONS of Raising a Trilingual Child

Bilingual child: when to start reading aloud?

Do you speak another language in presence of your child, but not directly to him? Read , if the passive language learning works

Language resources: 

Kids Radio in different languages from around the world. 

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