For many raising bi- / multilingual children, athough highly rewarding, there will be times when it is challenging, frustrating and you may want to share your experiences with others. We have been talking with our members about their experiences and funny moments of raising multilingual children
“Our kids have gone from being English speakers, to German speakers, to French speakers and now back to English speakers. I realise that this is probably quite unusual, but it has given me some insight into the learning of languages, and what slumbers inside them.” Lynn Schreiber
"For sure my children will have problems at school and maybe they will not perform as good. For sure they will need language support throughout their school life, but with the effect of finishing school with 4 fluent languages. They will end school at a language level, where others only can dream to be. My children's problems, will not be their language abilities, but their parents. We are different to the catalans, so they will be different. I cannot and do not want to change the way I have been formed in Germany, but this is incompatible with half of the people from here. My sons simply don't get invited to some play dates, but this also could happen in Germany."
"I asked the children what their attitude towards their different languages are and Mathias and Sarah looked at me as if they didn't really get it...Mathi said: yeah, it's sort of a part of me....I think that means that they don't make any difference between the different languages....speaking and understanding more than one language is a fully integrated part of them and their personality."
"My elder daughter (nearly 15) has started to talk to me in French when she wants something or when she is telling me about a problem! The girls have adopted a French persona for themselves when they talk together at home in French, which is highly amusing."
"I would say that if you have 2 languages in the family then use them from birth without any hesitation. I know a family who only spoke French at home when the father was English, subsequently their two children could not speak anything but a few words of English - not a problem when they were living in France but now they have moved to the UK and the children are really struggling"
"What's difficult is being patient and not obsessing about their language skills. It's very easy to beat yourself up over the fact that possibly they are not as good as their friends and putting the fault at the door of their bilingualism. It's a question of being Patient with a capital P and reminding yourself how lucky they are."
About a year ago I took my oldest son to the German Embassy in Barcelona and when we entered the full waiting room, he heard that everybody was speaking in German. He said very loud in German: "Look Mum, we are in Germany now" and then pointed to an elderly couple "because even Grandma and Grandpa (Oma and Opa) here are speaking German!"
"From the moment they were born they have been exposed to 3 languages and have assimilated them with ease. I am still in awe when I watch them flit between languages depending on which situation they find themselves in. They have not had to think about ‘learning’ as such but via a kin of linguistic osmosis they have absorbed them beautifully. It has to be said, I am jealous."
"The 2 older children don't seem to think about the languages. It seems completely natural for them to be having a conversation with one person in one language and turn around to the next person and have a conversation in another language. They've never asked why we speak different languages at home and they've never really mixed the languages up apart from the odd word. When they learnt to read their choice of language was always Spanish - I guess as it is phonetic and so easier to read than English"
"I see that sometimes it is very difficult for him to express his feelings or needs. He mixes languages quite often and I think I am the only person who completely understands him. He can have one word in many languages, for example he can say car in three different languages (auto, bil, coche). Sometimes he creates funny sentences by mixing words."