Challenges of raising bi/multilingual kids…

17 Jul
Dialects of Portuguese in Brazil

Dialects of Portuguese in Brazil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Already mentioned here my [random] thoughts on the whole bi/multilingual culture {Comments and extra thoughts on being a multilingual parent…}, and its obvious benefits, not only to the growing child, but also for the society that child is part of…

My children are surely enjoying their school break – another 2 full weeks to go, and they’ll be back at a familiar environment – an international school, surrounded by Spanish speaking classmates, and other expats, mainly from neighboring South American countries, a few European reps, and the well-known US-American crowd.

All fun and games, until it came to reinforce the endless/continuous need for them [my kids] to keep speaking Portuguese at home. Since I spend several hours at work, I’m not with them to ‘remind’ my lovies the importance of keeping up with ‘mommy’s language’…


KeyboardLayout-Portuguese-Brazil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They speak to the nanny in Spanish, to other American kids in English. The TV is mostly in English, with a few Spanish options. I’m their only link to Portuguese, right now – and I feel it’s my duty to stress the rule of  ‘if mom is home, you should only talk to her in Portuguese, as well as, to each other”.

Guess what’s happening? The rule is definitely off. We [parents] had it all planned out: our kick-off was the One Parent One Language (OPOL) method, where one parent speaks the minority language, which would be, in my case, Portuguese. My husband would have the kids started in Spanish [his father’s mother tongue], and gradually move on to English [husband’s mother’s tongue], as school moved on and our children required a deeper knowledge of English… We knew their/kids’ brains are hard-wired for language acquisition and children up to three years old easily process both languages.

Our 3 children had an early ‘linguistic’ start. They’re now 7.5; 5.5 and 2.5 years old – and were introduced to different languages as early as their birthdate.

José Saramago

José Saramago (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Right now, it seems not to be working. Maybe, it’s because we’re tired at the end of the day? Or because the kids see me talking to their dad in English; and to their day-time nanny in Spanish, they believe it’s okay to leave Saramago‘s language aside, and completely pretend they don’t know Portuguese [??].

So here I am, asking for suggestions [??], trying to figure out an easy [and painless] way out… ,

I’m always on the lookout for interesting resources for supporting our toddlers’ learning, I stumbled upon this very interesting article from Multilingual Living, which I’ve shared here earlier.

From our “tentative trilingual home” to yours… Thank you for reading… and for any suggestions that come our way! 😮


Posted by on July 17, 2013 in EDUCATION, LANGUAGE, resources, TCKs


Tags: , , ,

10 responses to “Challenges of raising bi/multilingual kids…

  1. elPadawan

    July 22, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    I’m not sure how I’d do trilingual homes. We’re already bilingual at home (French for me, Czech for my wife, each speaking their own language to our daughter). We’re considering adding English in (since we speak to each other in English), but I’m afraid it’ll set our kid “off balance”…


    • 3rdCultureChildren

      July 22, 2013 at 8:05 pm

      It’s definitely challenging. I try to speak Portuguese to the kids, and my husband, Spanish. Luckily, the languages are not too far off. English is the language of school, playground, TV. But you’re right, I’m always second guessing our choices…


  2. romulusandremusrome

    July 18, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    Reblogged this on Romulus and Remus Rome TRAVEL AND TOURS and commented:
    Challenges of raising bi/multilingual kids..


  3. Alex H

    July 18, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    Awesome……..Just Awesome Share.I love it.Looking forward for more.Alex,Thanks.


  4. mycopenhagenn

    July 18, 2013 at 5:50 am

    My children are exposed to three languages, Danish, Zulu and English. My personal exeprience is that my children speak and understand English when required to. They speak Danish fluently, it is sort of their mother toungue. The understand Zulu but do not speak it. My mistake was when I started speaking more Danish and less Zulu.


    • 3rdCultureChildren

      July 18, 2013 at 8:53 am

      Thank you for your input, Mycopenhagen… it’s definitely harder in real life than it’s ‘ on paper’… my children are also exposed to 3 languages – but they’er still young to be evaluated on their ‘performances’… time will tell. Thanks again for taking the time to stop by and share your life experiences over here – much appreciated! 😮


  5. justiceforkevinandjenveybaylis

    July 17, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    Reblogged this on justiceforkevinandjenveybaylis.



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