Do you speak to your family in your native language?

posted 2 years ago in Intercultural
  • poll: What do you speak to your international family?

    Original language


    Language of adopted country exclusively

  • Post # 2
    1249 posts
    Bumble bee

    I promise you kids will not be confused!  Don’t under estimate kids- they’re very smart and absorb new info like sponges! I have cousins in Norway- at daycare they speak Norwegian. At home, their dad soeaks English and mom speaks Urdu (native tongue). They were fluent in all three languages by the age of 5. 

    I have another cousin whose dad speaks English while the mom speaks Spanish and he goes to a Chinese speaking school. He’s fluent in all three and can understand (but not speak) Urdu  

    As for me, my mom relied on school and TV for me to learn English. And at home, we were strictly not allowed to speak English, only Urdu, until I was 13.

    Your plan to speak Russian and bf English sounds perfect 👍🏼

    Post # 3
    3484 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: July 2011

    I have a friend who is Mexican and her husband is English – they live in the UK. 

    She speaks Spanish to the children and they understand it just as well as English. The daughter speaks it too, but her son is slightly autistic and refuses to speak in Spanish. Their dad speaks to them in English. 

    One parent speaking one language and the other speaking the other is very common in bilingual families. 

    My husbands cousins are half Japanese and they grew up speaking both languages. Their English parent speaks Japanese too so as a family they tend to speak Japanese to each other. I tend to pick up a few words every Christmas with them. 

    Post # 4
    215 posts
    Helper bee

    When we were first considering children when we started to date, we said he’d speak Urdu to the children, I’d speak Chinese, and we’d work on improving our French so that when we spoke to each other or as a family, we could be speaking in French.

    I’m seriously doubting the French thing, and I’m not even sure my husband will be able to speak in Urdu majority of the time to the children. But I am 100% certain I want my children to learn Chinese.

    Post # 5
    41 posts
    • Wedding: April 2020 - City, State

    When I moved to the states, I continued to speak French with my family and English in school. 20 years later and french is still the main language spoken in my parents home. Growing with both languages, I never got “confused”. As a kid I could switch back and forth without blinking.  The only ‘mishap’ is when I can think of a word in one language and not the other– usually its more tip of the tongue syndrome! That’s the only con I can think of, the rest all pro’s in that your child will be quicker at picking up other languages, have strong writing skills and a rich vocabulary.

    Luckily, my SO knows a good amount of french from his school days so he is able to keep up.We both agreed when we would have children, they would learn both languages– French mostly from my parents and myself, but he can try pitch in 😉


    Post # 6
    843 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: May 2018

    I am an applied linguist and that topic is common and has been studied a lot. There isn’t any confusion whatsoever. The kid will be able to do both languages at the same time. What might happen at some point is that the child will refuse to speak Russian to you. Usually that happens during puberty. Then you should ignore it and continue to speak Russian to the child. 

    To name examples. One of my professors at my Uni was Dutch, speaking only Dutch to her two children. Her husband was American, speaking only English to the children. They were encouraged to answer in the accordion language. In Kindergarten (German daycare) German was spoken with the kids. 

    My parents came from Poland, I was born in Sweden, then we moved to Italy and then to Germany. My parents always and till the day only speak Polish at home. The other languages I learned „on the street“ or at Kindergarten and school. When I was about 5 my mom hired a British friend from her language school to teach me English. My „native“ language is German. My „mothertounge“ is Polish.  

    Post # 7
    1470 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: September 2015

    Adding to the “They will not be confused”: My kiddo is 21 months and learning 3 languages, English, Chinese (my family), and Spanish (husband’s family).  My husband and mother in law were also concerned that he would be confused but now they see that he is not, even though he’s not even 2 yet.  

    He understands all 3 languages when spoken to him.  He doesn’t speak as much as he understands, but when he speaks, depending on his audience, he will change the language he uses.  For example “water” is one of the words he knows in all 3 languages.  He will say “shui” when he’s with my family, “agua” when talking to my in-laws, and “water” at daycare.  

    I do think he will end up teaching my husband Chinese.  

    Post # 8
    495 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: August 2017 - Orange County, CA

    Hands down one of the best gifts my parent gave me was bilingualism. We exclusively spoke our native language at home and I spoke English at school and to my friends.  I was never confused, and it made learning a third language later in life so much easier.

    My husband and my sister’s boyfriend do not speak our language, so family gatherings are now a mix of languages and cultures which is fun!

    Post # 9
    9519 posts
    Buzzing Beekeeper

    The kid won’t get confused. Dh’s native language is Russian and he doesn’t want to speak to our baby exclusively in Russian, but none of his reasons are because he’s worried about our son getting confused.

    Post # 10
    2449 posts
    Buzzing bee

    View original reply
    lauralaura123 :  I spoke with my family exclusively in my native tongue until I went to college. Now I speak with them in a combination.

    A lot of multicultural families have this sort of set up that you are describing (i.e. mom speaks to kid in one language, dad speaks to kid in another language, kid learns third language at school).

    In the past, it has been suggested that some children who are bilingual might start speaking a little bit later than children who are monolingual. I’m not up on the latest linguistic research, but I do remember this being mentioned in a developmental psych class I took 10 years ago. However, this does NOT mean that the child is confused. In fact, I would argue that bilingualism has many more benefits than drawbacks, even if this is the case.

    Post # 11
    1249 posts
    Bumble bee

    View original reply
    MiaSuperstar :  yeah my mom said I went through a short phase of wanting to speak English only. Her solution was to ignore me if I was addressing her in English and would only respond once I switched back to Urdu. 

    Post # 12
    181 posts
    Blushing bee
    • Wedding: October 2015

    I’ll never forget the first time I met my cousin’s first child. She and her husband are Korean, but their nanny only spoke Spanish. My cousin’s son (who was maybe 4 or 5 at the time) pitched a fit in Spanish about something the nanny asked him to do, turned to his Mom and asked in Korean if he could do whatever it was, and then when my mom asked him what’s the matter he replied in perfect English. 

    So it’s not going to be a problem at all, in my experience. Also, I am STILL jealous of that child’s language learning abilities. 🙂 

    Post # 13
    4093 posts
    Honey bee

    We’re both native English speakers, but my uncle was married to a woman from France and they had three children. They also raised the kids where my uncle only spoke english and my aunt only spoke french. It worked wonderfully, and the kids are doing well as young adults now, speaking two languages. I think its an amazing gift to give to your children, and will help them in a lot of different ways…career wise, culturally, with travel, etc. It’s so much easier to learn as a child than it is as an adult!

    Post # 14
    130 posts
    Blushing bee
    • Wedding: August 2018

    I also think it is so important for you children to learn both languages, ESPECIALLY while they are so young. I am from New Zealand so I obviously speak English and my husband is Colombian. None of his family speaks english well at all so I am learning Spanish. Our children without a doubt will be learning Spanish. Ideally we will both be speaking mostly Spanish to them, if I master it okay, in the home. We are living in the United States so they will get to practice English a ton in their daily lives anyway with my friends and family interacting with them. I think it is so important for our children to embrace their Colombian heritage just as much and to be able to have a good relationship with my husbands side of the family.

    Post # 15
    229 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: May 2012

    Adult perspective – hubbys  family immigrated to North America when he was a baby, and spoke Chinese exclusively since they didn’t know English. He learned English at school. However, nowadays he doesn’t speak a ton Chinese though he can understand it well enough as long as you keep it basic conversational. Doesn’t read it at all. 

    Seems to be a pattern amongst not only hubby friends in the same situation, but my teenager’s friends as well. They eventually turn to speaking a combo of their parents language and English, while their parents speak the native language back to them. 

    Its great to have as a base. Kids can take it and run, through second language classes at school if they want to develop further language skills. My SIL was super interested in learning more Chinese and can speak/write/listen fluently while hubby didn’t care and just muddles along a bit when necessary 

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