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I am expecting my first baby in April. The question of which language(s) to speak to our child has been my biggest concern. Cantonese is my native language, Slovak is my husband’s, we communicate to each other in English and we live in Germany. We both cannot understand each other’s native language.


Even after reading and asking around, my husband and I still cannot make up our mind. Luckily enough we learn from this websit now about some principles about multilingual method and also not to confuse the child by mixing languages. Therefore, I think it’s important to make our decision as early as possible.


Our goal is to be able to communicate among us together as a family. That means, speaking English to the child is what we should do. However, we also want our child to learn Chinese which will be very useful for the future development of the child. So, the option could be my husband speaks to him in English, but I speak in Chinese. But then my husband will be left out when we talk in Chinese. 


We would love to listen to your advices or experience. It would be very helpful for us to make our decision. Thanks a lot in advance.


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Hi Winnie… it is great to plan ahead for your child this way and it is kind of you thinking not to alienate your husband. I am not sure if he will actually feel alienated; or is this just you thinking it due to your nice character of being considerate. But if you stick to your plan, if he is growing healthy, your child will be able to speak both Chinese and English in 10 years time or less. By then your husband will not feel alienated because your child will be fully conversant in both language by then, and can speak to him in English to explain what you two are talking about. No more alienation 🙂

At the moment, try giving him and, most importantly yourself, an assurance that this is a “alienation sacrifice” worth doing, to reap the benefit after 10 years time. An added bonus, however unlikely is who knows your husband might pick up some of the Chinese himself.

But if you still feel uneasy, for the sake of not alienating your husband, you can translate for him what you & child are discussing in Chinese. Just do not let your child hear it to avoid confusion. I do not know how practical it is, but it may be worth trying. All the best.


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