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Hello everyone!
Reading the posts on this board has truly helped me learn a lot about multilingualism and see how different families raise bi-, tri-, and multi-lingual children. However, I have not found yet a situation similar to ours. I am a native speaker of Bulgarian, my husband is a native speaker of English. We live in an English-speaking community (US). I also speak Czech and Italian. My husband and I speak English to each other; he speaks English to our son and occasionally Bulgarian. My son’s grandparents speak to him naturally in Bulgarian – currently, through video-conferencing on daily basis for no more than 30 minutes, but he will have a chance to spend at least three months a year in Bulgaria with them. Since he was born (now he is six months old), I have been using both Italian and Bulgarian to talk, read, and sing to him. I have not established a specific pattern in the usage of both languages – I use them depending on the mood or on the book or cartoon that we are looking at. I have plenty of media and materials in Italian but am worried that my son will not have enough exposure to the language. My question to the community is if you think that he will end up confusing both minority languages and not speaking either. What is the pattern I should adopt in order to give him a chance to develop at least basic competences in one of them and a fluency in the other?

Thank you!


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Hi Elitza.  My congratulations on your new baby!  I too was conflicted when having to choose which language to speak to my children.  My husband is American and speaks rudimentary Spanish.  My first language is French, but I am Iranian and also speak fluent Persian.  I decided to speak to my children in Persian only.  The reason for this is that I knew that they would not learn either language well if I mixed them up.  They would end up trying to figure out what language I’m speaking rather than the context of what I was saying.  My thinking was that they can always learn French, but I was the only one who could help them become native Persian speakers.

I became so passionate about this that I have since started a language immersion program and help other families in raising multilingual children ( 

Today, my boys are both fluent in Persian while my husband cannot speak a word.  In fact, they never – ever – speak English to me while the two brothers speak only Persian to each other.

My recommendation to you is to stick to Bulgarian (only – i.e. OPOL) – when/if you decide to hire a caretaker, see if you can find someone who can speak only Italian to your child(ren).  My second child is actually trilingual at 3 yrs old because his caretaker is fluent in Spanish.

Good luck!


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Thank you for your advice. I guess I forgot to write that I was actually looking for a long time for a caretaker who speaks Italian, but it was hard to find one where we live now. Instead, I found a Spanish-speaking babysitter who has been doing a great job with the baby, speaking to him in Spanish.

I think that your strategy is the right one – OPOL – and that’s what I was fearing when I decided to consult with the people on this website. As you say, perhaps at a later point I will have a chance to immerse my child in an Italian-speaking (or Spanish-speaking) community.

Your immersion program looks very interesting!

Thank you for your advice once again!



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I second the idea of OPOL.

Keep Bulgarian first for your son. You can continue to sing, watch and read Italian with him as he grows up, but keep your day to day life running around Bulgarian.


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I have a similar problem too. I am expecting my first baby next year.
I was born in Taiwan and received education in New Zealand.
I am now working in Japan and my husband can only speak Japanese. My parents live in New Zealand and speak very little English.

So in my situation
MUM (myself) speaks Chinese/ English/ Japanese
DAD speaks Japanese
Granddad/ Grandma from MUM’s side speak mostly Chinese and very little English
Granddad/ Grandma from DAD’s side speak Japanese
Social Language Japanese

I wish my baby could master 3 languages as he/she would need them in his/her lifetime. So what I am going to do is I’ll speak Chinese to my baby but have a bed time story/talk daily with him/her in English. My husband will speak in Japanese. In that case will my baby be able to cope all three languages, any suggestions regarding my situation please?

Judit Rozsahegyi

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Hi there,
Similar situation here, I’m living in Italy, my husband speaks Italian and I speak Hungarian and English. (baby’s due in a couple of months) I want my child to learn all 3 languages, but I don’t want a nanny and I don’t really know anyone around who speaks my 2 languages. I’d need some ideas how to go about it, should I use Hungarian in the morning and English in the afternoon when dad’s around (he understands a bit of English)? I’ve got tons of materials in both languages, books, Cds, videos etc.But will it be enough?

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