Each month, we share a multilingual family interview from a family around the world. The interview shares their story as a multilingual family as well as their challenges, successes, tips and advice in language learning. Other interviews can be found here.
Introduce yourself and your family.
My name is Sara I’m born and raised in Sweden with parents that origin from Morocco. I’m married and my husband is also born and raise in Sweden but with parents descending from Tunisia. We have a 2 year old son that we’d love to raise multilingual.
What languages do you speak?
We speak Swedish, English, Arabic and very little french.
How many and which ones do you speak on a daily basis?
We mainly speak two at the moment. Since we moved back from the Uk to Sweden we now use Swedish and Arabic in public and private. Whereas English is usually used while reading books to our son or when trying to expand his vocabulary.
Are you teaching your children these languages?
Yes we are actively trying to enforce the teaching of these languages in our daily basis.
Do you homeschool, if so, how do you incorporate the languages into learning?
In Sweden it is illegal to homeschool, but since our son is just two years old he attends kindergarten part time. The other time he stays home reading, speaking and learning the ability to be very punctual about phonics and pronounce or differentiate between them.
If not, do your children attend a bilingual or multi-language school?
He currently is not but we have applied to such schools and wish he is accepted as the queue system in Sweden is very long.
What have been challenges so far?
Our own lack of knowledge in some aspects of said languages. We’ve both never lived in an Arabic speaking country so sometimes some wordings don’t come as naturally as in Swedish or English. Also, we come from different ethnic backgrounds with two different dialects of Arabic which plays a role in it as well.
Tell us about some of your successes.
Luckily, our son hasn’t had any problems using multiple languages at the same time and even distinguishes between the different dialects of Arabic depending on whom he is speaking to.
What is some advice you would like to offer to other multilingual families ?
Consistensy is key! Also, it is very important to be open to learn along the way. If you don’t know certain words, as a parent it is important to be open to look it up instead of compensating with generalized phrases. Furthermore, it is very important to be on the same page with your partner regarding your common linguistic goals for your child.
Name up to 3 resources you find useful for your family.
Books, online dictionaries and consistency.
Which language would you recommend someone to learn and why?
English as it is a mainstream language used in every part of the world. However, learning Arabic can be a huge asset as it makes learning other languages so easy since you can pronounce so many different letters and sounds. The main focus though should be what purpose and what use the language will have in your life.