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Hello everyone! [wave]

Thank you for reading my post, any advice is mostly welcome 

My baby will be born in 2 months and my husband and I are trying to figure out the best option for our daughter to be trilingual (in a native level for the 3 languages). The situation is as follows:

Mom’s language: Spanish
Dad’s language: Japanese
Community language: Japanese
Language between parents: English (non of us is native, though)

My husband and I communicate in English, since he can’t speak Spanish and I can’t speak Japanese (yet)… Until I started reading this forums, we were convinced of using the following system:

Mom alone: Spanish
Dad alone: Japanese
Mom and dad together (between them AND to the baby): English
School and grandparents: Japanese

Besides that, I work from home as a Spanish teacher online (so I’m constantly switching form English to Spanish and my daughter will be listening to all that after she’s born), my husband learns English online (1 lesson every day), I learn Japanese and English online (once a week each language). 

We are a little bit concerned of confusing her while speaking to her in English when we are all together, and in our respective native languages when we are alone with her. Has anyone tried this before? Will it also be confusing for her to listen to me switching from English to Spanish constantly when talking to my students?

Finally, as we are both non native English speakers, we think that it will be a good idea to hire an online American teacher for our daughter… maybe when she becomes 3 (not boring lessons, just talking or whatever our daughter feels like fun, we just want her to be able to speak with a native accent). Any suggestions about this?

Thanks a lot! ?


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In our household, I have consistently spoken one language with our children and my husband has consistently spoken another, so I cannot comment on the success of you speaking English to her in your husband’s presence. Depending on you English skill it may however actually be detrimental to her for you to speak English with her. An acquaintance of mine chose to speak English with his child instead of his native language. Unfortunately, his English wasn’t as good as he thought, and the child actually ended up speaking worse English than her peers who learned it through school and media. In Japan that might not be the case though.

As for English-lessons online through Skype, I wouldn’t count on it for much more than learning a few words and sentences as a young child. Your child can if course be different than mine, but I have tried it with all my children (for Spanish) and they quickly got bored with it no matter how interesting the teacher tried to be. For the lessons to actually have a lasting effect, they would have to occur at least several times per week for years. The best method is of course to have a native speaker interact with the child in person and to do so frequently, so a nanny, babysitter or au pair would be the best option. That can get pricey though (as can multiple Skype lessons per week), so for older children the human interaction can be supplemented with music and children’s television in your chosen language. I know a lot of people consider TV a poor and slow way of learning the language, but for many children this may be one of the few methods that actually capture their attention long enough for them to learn. To get them to speak you do have to make them feel like it is necessary for them.

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