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 # 16
    1580 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: April 2018

    My family heritage is all english speaking, however the majority of my biological Aunties and Uncles married into different cultures.  I have cousins that grew up speaking german, greek, khmer (cambodian), Hindi etc. with either their mother or father.  The other parent at most could speak it at a conversational level.  All are teens or adults and have no issue switching back and forth, can feel comfortable visiting their countries of origin, can converse with family members who still live overseas or whose english is poor. 

    On the other hand, my dad is married to my stepmum who is trilingual.  The country they both lived in has two national languages (one being English) and many tribal languages.  My dad thought their children learning anything other than English may confuse them growing up so forbad my stepmum to speak to them in any other language than English.  I’ve witnessed their frustration when my stepmums family lapses into one of their own tongues, and they can’t understand.  I think it’s really sad particularly because they grew up in the country. 

    Long stories haha, but I definitely think the setup you have planned is the best way to do it and it’s a great asset for your children. 

    Post # 17
    198 posts
    Blushing bee

    It’s not confusing–kids get it.  But it is hard, to remember to maintain that language.  And they’ll hear you speak english a ton, fyi.  After all, you’ll need to communicate with your spouse, with teachers, with the parents of your kids friends, with your kids friends when they have friends over, etc. etc. etc. 

    My father tried to speak to me in Spanish growing up.  I just answered in English… he always gave up after 15 min or so…  That said I do think it probably helped me when I finally did make the effort to learn the language, as a teenager.  I picked it up very quickly.

    I have a friend who is VERY good about persistently speaking to her kids in German even though dad doesn’t speak German.  I’ve never heard them speak German in return, but they definitely seem to understand her, so that’s something.

    Post # 18
    141 posts
    Blushing bee
    • Wedding: April 2014

    It’s very good for kids to hear multiple languages from the time they are born. It’s actually helpful if one parents speaks a language other than English, then the child will have an incentive to speak that language and not just English. My husband and I both speak Russian, and our 22 month old son goes to a Russian daycare as we have been told he will learn English in time for school and that Russian is more difficult. We want him to mainly hear Russian for his first years of life. Whether he will speak it later is up to him I guess. Both grandparents know English, but speak mainly Russian. So our kids will hear it when the family gets together.  At home, hubby and I speak a blend of Russian and English, but we do try to stick to Russian in front of our son. 

    Post # 19
    786 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: October 2018

    Encourage your husband to learn a little before your kids have a chance to outsmart him.

    Post # 22
    1178 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: January 2017

    I grew up speaking Italian with my father, English with my mother, and a 3rd language with my friends. No confusion!

    Post # 23
    1599 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: June 2018

    I think your plan is a good one! My sister is American and her husband is Algerian. They live in France. My sister speaks English to their son, and her husband speaks Arabic to him. My sister and brother-in-law speak in French to each other (because it’s the only language they both speak haha) so there are three languages being used in their house! My nephew is picking all of it up. He doesn’t seem confused at all, and he’s learning all of the languages to be able to communicate with his entire family 🙂

    Post # 24
    540 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: September 2018 - City, State

    A lot of my bilingual friends do exactly what you’re describing: one parent speaks language A, the other speaks language B, and the kid is growing up great with both. Speaking more than one language nourishes excellent brain development and gives kids stronger vocab skills overall as an adult.

    Post # 25
    841 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: September 2013

    We have several good “couple” friends of different nationalities and they have all done this – spoken to their children in each of their national languages.  We have good friends who don’t speak to their children in English at all (mother speaks German, father speaks Spanish)  though they do speak English around their children all of the time and their children participate in a ton of activities where English is spoken and their kids at ages 5 and 7 speak all three languages fluently.  It’s honestly amazing! You’d be doing your children a huge favor by bringing bilingualism into your home!

    Post # 26
    323 posts
    Helper bee

    Piping in as a language teacher. Please, please, please speak to your kids in both languages. Kids don’t struggle with this – I’ve seen toddlers speak 3 languages without being confused. It builds pride in your culture, it increases the likelihood of speaking that langauge though adulthood, and it helps with all the other benefits of being bilingual (math skills, code switching, staving off alzheimers). My students who already speak another language in addition to English learn their third language SO much faster than my English-only students!

    Post # 27
    347 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: November 2016

    I’m from Montreal and it’s really hard to get accurate data, but I’d say 50% or so of children in this city grow up in bilingual households, and many are trilingual. Speaking both languages is really important for even basic, customer service, jobs like working at Starbucks. Unilingial individuals are at a HUGE disadvantage. Speak to your children in as many languages as you can, it’s so helpful and wonderful 🙂 Plus Russian is a HARD language to learn, I’ve studied it for a few years and man I wish I had learnt as a child. So much easier.

    Post # 28
    3567 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: June 2016

    There have been so many studies on this, and the results are conclusive that it is amazing for baby’s brain when parents decide to do just that – one parent speaks one language, the other speaks another. Your baby will not be confused, according to the science of language development. Do not feel weird about speaking to your future little one in Russian! They will benefit in so many ways.

    Post # 29
    2567 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: May 2017

    View original reply
    lauralaura123 :  priviet! My husband is from Russia I’m from California, I’ve spent the past ten years we’ve been together learning conversational Russian. We are currently TTC and we’ve already agreed that he will exclusively speak Russian and I want to try speaking Spanish and English to them. Trilingual children. (I speak Spanish with my students but not fluent).

    I hope your husband sees the benefit of teaching a child multiple languages. 

    Post # 30
    4920 posts
    Honey bee
    • Wedding: November 1999

    View original reply
    lauralaura123 :  I’m a child of migrant parents. My parents came here as children and they did all their schooling here.

    They speak English like a person born here but they chose to speak to us exclusively as children in their native tongue from birth. They figured we’d pick up the English just by living in an environment surrounded by English speakers and we did. We knew the names for everything in both languages and never got confused. We were all ahead of the curve at school and we are all university graduates with a couple of degrees each. I think it gave us a good start in life and it was a skill I turned into an income for years that earnt me $65 an hour! I totally apprecited being in university and being able to do one hours work and earn me what I’d earn in three hours work as a checkout chick in my other job.

    As I got older we spoke more in English at home but I knew that if my parents started telling me off in their native tongue that I was in huge trouble! If they yelled in English it was not too bad! 😆 These days my parents flip in and out both languages and it depends on what subject they are speaking on. If it’s to do with past family stories about their parents and grandparents etc they use their native tongue. When my mum is giving me a recipe or discussing food she will use her native tongue. If we are discussing something we don’t want little ears to hear (grandkids) we again speak in our native tongue.

    My hubby has parents born in two different  countries. He understands both but speaks one more fluently along with the English. We’ve decided that with our kids we will each speak to our child in our own secondary language and use the English when speaking in a group situation with our child. Kids honestly absorb anything and they somehow know and don’t get confused by it all. We think it’s a bonus if our kids know how to say milk in three different languages!

    I think your plan will work perfectly fine! Just be sure to teach your husband the naughty words in Russian because no doubt one day your kid will have a brainstorm idea to start swearing or calling your hubby some rude names in Russian!! My husband thought this would be a good idea at 12 but learnt the hard way that my Father-In-Law isn’t quite so ignorant when it comes to my MILs native tongue!! 🤣😂🤣

    Edited to say that I second the idea of sending your children to daycares/kindy that specialise in a specific language and culture. I went to one and Ioved it only thing I didn’t like was that I went on the same day every week and they had a weekly menu. My day was always pasta e fagioli which was pasta with beans in broth. I hated legumes and this was torture to a 4 year old. 

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