Search This Blog

Sep 1, 2009

Not alone in this "raising bilingual kids" project

Since I became pregnant, over 2 years ago, my husband and I have been wondering how it would be to raise a trilingual kid (he is German, I am French and we live in the US). I did a lot of research and read quite a few books. In them I learned all the benefits of teaching kids various languages at an early age, and how the brain develops when stimulated by different languages. But I felt I was missing the hands-on information I would need on a day-to-day basis such as:
* how do you respond when your kid learns a new word in the language you are NOT teaching? encourage or ignore?
* how do you handle being with other people that don't speak your language?
* how big of a deal is it for Daniel if he hears me speak to my husband in German and to my friends in English? I know the ideal is that I should stick to French all the time. But what if it's not realistic?
* and many more questions that I expect will come when Daniel grows older.
None of the books were getting into this level of specificity, and I felt that we were a little bit on our own.

Fortunately, after doing more research online, I stumbled upon this Carnival of Bilingualism article, that is a collection of other blog articles about the topic: Parents sharing their various experiences with kids at different stages of learning and in various circumstances. There was so much useful information for me to find in these articles, and so many similarities with my own experiences. I already feel a lot more knowledgeable and less isolated. And the best part? This Carnival is going to happen once a month going forward. So by the time Daniel can really speak, I should be a lot more prepared for what his world will look like.
I am very happy I am raising Daniel in the age where blogs have become popular, and when people from all over the world can find each other and share information about a common topic of interest. Even if we each might feel a little bit different in our own local communities, we are not alone, after all. And that's quite encouraging.


  1. I totally agree with you on that one. It is the practical side of things that got me confused and I believe that's why I am not so adamant anymore. When you are a mum there is so much to focus on, adding the pressure of making them perfectly bilingual is too much for me... :)
    Thanks for passing by my blog by the way, it is great to discover lovely blogs like yours :)

  2. Many thanks for stopping by for the carnival!

    I had the exact same difficulty you write about with all the text books. They were so theoretical and didn't help at all with the every day decisions.

    I've since learned through blogs on bilingualism that initially, children don't have a concept of synonyms so encouragement of any word is good. Once they reach about 2 years 3 months they will develop an understanding that one thing can have more than one name. This is when the distinction between languages can be encouraged. If my daughter uses an English word with me, and I know she knows it in German, and provided she's not tired/grumpy, I will ask her for the German word by saying "wie bitte? was ist das? auf Deutsch bitte?". And the best part: it works!