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This interview is an update of our interview from October 2017.
Introduce yourself and your family.
I am Meryem Adrienne, the founder and blogger at The Multilingual Home. I’m American from Kentucky and my husband is Turkish from Elazig, Turkey. We have three children, Miss F ( 5 years old), Mr. Z ( 3 years old) and Mr. M ( 11 months). We currently live near Paris, France
What languages do you speak?
I speak English and my husband speaks Turkish, Kurdish and Zaza. Our common language is French and we are all learning Quranic Arabic. Hence 3 kids and 6 languages…
How many and which ones do you speak on a daily basis ?
We are speak English, Turkish, French and a little Quranic Arbaic on a daily basis. When we are in Turkey or speaking to my inlaws on the phone, my husband and kids speak Zaza and Kurdish/Kurmanji. My father-in-law who only spoke Kurmanji and Turkish while my mother-in-law speaks all three; once claimed that it was like changing the station on the tv going back and forth between all of the languages. Sometimes they mix all three in the same phrase. I find it often hard to follow.
Are you teaching your children these languages ?
We are no longer homeschooling, but we still continue to learn the languages and different subjects at home when the kids aren’t in school. The kids are currently in private school – half of the day is in Arabic and the other half is in French.
We are mainly sticking to the idea of One Parent One Language. The Turk speaks Turkish with our children whenever the opportunity presents itself. We also live in an area where there are many Turkish families and often one parent or both don’t speak French, so Turkish is widely spoken. The two oldest are also attending a Turkish-run mosque so often the classes are in Turkish or French with some Arabic.
Since the kids are now in school, I have been trying to be consistent in speaking English to them and no longer speaking French unless it’s absolutely necessary. We talk with my parents or sister at least a few times a week on Facetime or the phone as well.
So often times at dinner or even just when we are out and about the conversation gets translated into all the languages.
What have been challenges so far ?
The biggest challenge at the moment is trying to find the time to incorporate all of the languges into our daily life to make sure that we are equally practicing them. Sometimes, they watch cartoons in one of the languages that we are focusing on for that da –usually they watch ones in French, Turkish or Arabic. But they play educational games like Startfall on the Ipad in English.
Tell us about one of your successes.
As you may remember from the first interview, Mr. Z rarely spoke English or French and at times it was difficult to communicate with him since my Turkish language skills are still very beginner. The first couple months of school were also difficult, but one day he started speaking a few words in French and slowly it turned into more and then he started speaking English. He started repeating words to songs that I had been singing to the baby.
His teacher at school puts it as “ an explosion of vocabulary”in both French and Arabic. So, we are very proud! He even corrected me when we were singing a French song, Petite Escargot **** link
What are some other ways besides just speaking lthe language that have exposed your children to your’s or your spouse’s languages ? (ex. cultural events, food, travel)
Last year we travelled a lot and visited my husband’s family in Turkey, Germany and Switzerland. The kids enjoyed very much being able to meet and talk with their cousins.
We are planning on travelling to the USA this summer (July 2019) to visit with our American family.
We also receive letters from Isabelle at “Letters from Afar” (review coming soon) and we usually get out our atlas and supplementary books to read about where she is currently visiting.
What is some advice you would like to offer to other multilingual families?
Daily exposure to languages and be consistent in learning.
Name some resources you find useful for your family. amazon affiliate link
French : Les Alphas – A fun and interactive way to learn how to read in French by learning the letter and blending sounds in French.
Bilingual Books – written in the majority language and then translated into the minority language. That way the child or even you as the adult can learn grammar and vocabulary
Online programs such as Arabic Seeds
Which langauge would you recommend someone to learn and why?
Any language. I am a strong advocate for learning another language whether it be a second, third, or more. But if I had to pick one – pick one of the top languages of the world – Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, English or French.