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We live in the French speaking part of Switzerland. My husband is of Greek origin, but he grew up here. I am of Turkish origin but was born and raised in Germany. I would like my 3-year-old to speak Turkish. At home we speak French and my husband only speaks French to her. My parents come twice a year to Switzerland for 3 weeks and I go to Turkey once or twice a year, but we never stay longer than 10 days. I would say my daughter understands 80% of the things I say, but usually to more simple things. 

When she was a baby I spoke a lot in Turkish – almost exclusively. But then I started to mix and at times only spoke French with her. I did not want my husband or his family to feel left out. As I find Switzerland not very friendly towards foreigners I even started speaking French to her when in public. Now I am afraid it is too late to just speak Turkish to her. She is at an age where she asks a lot of complicated questions and I want to give her good answers. I feel like if I do I in Turkish she does not understand it all. 

Is it a good method to first say it in Turkish and then translate. I have been doing this a lot, but am not sure if this also falls under “one parent mixing languages” category when you do it a lot. And mixing is listed on this site under the top ten mistakes.

Any helpful advice is greatly appreciated.


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Thats about all I remember in french.. Im from Switzerland as well. Anyway now to your question
Im not sure how old your child is.. but I dont think its TOO late.. my kids are 7 and 8y old. My son has the a harder time even he does understands about 65% more if he wants to.. My daughter is more interested… I would say it in turkish first then say it again in french and then again in turkish.. Thats how Ido it with mine.. I know it takes time and patience.. Good luck

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Good day, Meltem! You alone understand your situation far better than anyone, and although advice is something good to have, but you alone will be navigating this bilingual rearing of your daughter. So take the information and use what you can and take strength from knowing you are doing your best for your child!  I am raising my daughter 5,5 years Latvian in America; her father speaks only English. I am very timid speaking Latvian with my child in front of her paternal family members. I whisper, tell her to ask her father, let him do most of the parenting (they are not nice people). However, by doing this I have showed her to be a. fearful of others and b. to be ashamed or hide what we do/ who we are. I know she is a part of them also, but I am probably unintentionally teaching them that it is alright also to not accept us. In short, I am doing nobody any favors.  So, beyond the linguistic teaching their are many other lessons are children are simultaneously learning from us. My daughter should be proud of her rich linguistic and cultural heritage that is alive in her, and this is something valuable to teach as well. Secondly, an American comedian on television once said that if all the people with televisions were told that by changing a television channel by hand instead of using a remote, this would end the world’s energy crisis… this would mean people would have to stand up and walk to their televisions each time they wanted to change the channel.  Most people would still use the remote control purely out of EASE. If she knows the French translation is coming, her ears may wait for it and may even disregard what you say first. It will be easier for her to do and will require less effort than processing the Turkish.  I have seen this firsthand with Latvian children in our community whose parents say it first in Latvian and then repeat it in English. They don’t hear the Latvian because they wait and know the English is coming. It may work, and I like Sandra’s idea of repeating the minority language. I only caution against this as your main mode of communication. Your child is three; there is much work you can do with teaching her Turkish. Now, if she were thirteen I might suggest you give up (I probably wouldn’t), but she is three. Take her aside, create some ONLY Turkish time daily, with or without the husband.  Remember, you are teaching her more than just language. You are providing valuable lessons about who she is and how she fits in to the world. Teach her to cherish every aspect of herself, even if it is a little different. This will also teach her to be strong. Good luck, a mother across the ocean.  

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