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Dear all,

This forum is really great and reading it through helped me to clarify most of my doubts about how to raise a child in a multilanguage environment. I’m expecting my baby to be born in March next year and My situation is the following:

Mom: native language portuguese ( speaks fluent english, spanish and intermediate german)

Dad: native language hungarian ( speaks english and intermediate german)

Couple’s common language: english ( dad makes some gramatical mistakes [smile] )

Living country: germany

After reading about the subject I assume that the most suitable language system for,us to adopt would be OPOL, keeping the family language english and german will be learnt later at kindergarden/school.

My main concern here is that, as my husband and I dont understand each other’s mother tongue, there will be the feeling of being left out ( at least speaking from myself). How should we deal with that, specially in the first years of the growing baby, where we’re supposed to come up with basic communication, family values, etc?

My other concern is about the 4 language issue and keeping the language exposure around 30% for all of them, untill the child is around 10 years old, which i understand that is going to be quite a challenge. My contact with a”brazilian” community here is very poor, at the moment have not so many brazilian friends and none of them have children so far. On the other hand, my husband has bigger contact with hungarians with children. So, maybe making a “cold” analysis here, portuguese would be the very minority language, as the contact would be only when his grandma comes to visit or we go for vacation back to Brazil. And this makes, of course, my heart to feel a “bit tight”.

Any advices or experiences in this case? Thanks a lot!


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Hello Flor,

we have a very similar situation. My language is hungarian and german, my husbands language is spanish, but we have a lot of contact in english within the communities.

I read Barabara Zurrers (Raising Bilingual Children) book, where it clearly shows, you do not need to decide on a theory of raising multilingual children, as there are countries, where they do no techniques and it still works fine.

We decided that my husban will always speak spanish with our son. I had to chose between hungarian and german. AS hungarian has a different grammatical structure then spanish, I picked spanish. So at home I speak only hungarian with my son. If we have visitors we speak the language that is relevant.
Our son learns german, as we sent him for longer period to germany to the grand parents and we have now a german aupair.

He is 2 years and 4 month now, and understands hungraian, german and spanish with almost no problem, but does not speak a lot. Speaks key words for main things, but I would say, he is best in hungarian, as he listens the most to me talking.

So I think brazilian for you should be no problem if you stick to it, it can be hard a t the beginning, but your husband will benefit from it as well, as he will fast pick up most key words in your language. You will surely pick up a lot of hungarian as well. [smile]

Good luck with your baby [smile]



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Hi Flor!

We have a similar situation: I’m also Brazilian, my partner is Croatian, we live in Sweden and speak English to each other. We have a beautiful son, who’s just turned 4.

I can say: don’t worry, it works! We use mostly OPOL and Antonio speaks and understands all 3 languages (Portuguese, Croatian and Swedish) and understands quite much English. At home it can sound “messy”, he mixes a lot the 3 of them (sometimes in the same sentence!), and so do I and his father when we try to speak something else than our mother tongues or English, but communication is achieved and very well. You will see that you will end up learning a lot of Hungarian, just by witnessing your baby and his father conversations.

The “language mixing” worried me a bit in the beginning, but it’s beautiful to see how smart these small creatures are. They know exactly which language they can talk to whom and who understands what. In Brazil he speaks only Portuguese, in Croatia only Croatian and in kindergarten only Swedish (I had actually this talk with his teacher this morning!).

I believe it’s very important to expose the child to as much language as possible. In our case – now I’m talking just about Portuguese – we don’t know many Brazilian with kids, so books, cartoons, games and Skype with Brazil are the main “everyday” resources. But being there is what really busts his language skills, so we try hard to go once a year.

Wish you lots of luck with the baby!

Um abraço!



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