Introduce yourself and your family.
Hi, my name is Isabel. I’m Colombian but I have lived abroad since 12 years. 8 years ago I came to Germany to do a PhD and ended up marrying a German and staying here. Now we have two sweet girls: a one year old and a four year old.
What languages do you speak ?
I speak Spanish, English, Italian and German
How many and which ones do you speak on a daily basis ?
German, English and Spanish
Are you teaching your children these languages ?
Yes. Our girls have been raised trilingual since birth.
Do you homeschool, if so, how do you incorporate the languages into learning ?
Here in Germany it is mandatory for kids to attend school from 6 years onwards and therefore it is very unusual for kids to stay home after they turn 3 years old. This year we decided to enroll our daughter for preschool so she could have more contact with kids and she assist 3 hours 4 days a week. The rest of the time we do homeschool preschool and lots of play and outside time.
What have been challenges so far ?
When my daughter started assisting German preschool she stated speaking more and more German. So it’s been a challenge to convince her to speak only English and Spanish at home.
Tell us about one of your successes.
I don’t know if it is a success but I find it absolutely amazing when my 4 year old translates for my parents when they are visiting us in Germany as they don’t speak German or English.
What are some other ways besides just speaking the language that have exposed your children to your’s or your spouse’s languages ? (ex. cultural events, food, travel)
I think one of the things that has helped a lot is having our girls talk with my parents in Spanish every day. They visit us a few months every year but when they are not here they do video chat with us on daily basis. I also think it is really important to have books in all languages and read at least one book with your kids every day
What is some advice you would like to offer to other multilingual families ?
Don’t give up! I know it can be difficult some times but the effort is worth it. My 4 year old had times when she refused to speak Spanish or German completely. Now she is completely fluent in English, Spanish and German.
Name up to 3 resources you find useful for your family.
A big variety of Books because having books available for kids in different languages is so important. We go to the library almost every week and I see how our vocabulary is enriched just by reading.
Some good blogs to learn more about raising bilingual kids:
Which langauge would you recommend someone to learn and why ?
I am biased but I’d say Spanish. It is beautiful and easy.
Isabel is a stay at home mom to two girls. She currently shares multilingual hands-on Montessori inspired activities and free printables on her website.