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I would appreciate any encouraging story on how parents raising their child in a language other than their native tongue reply to comments of false friends, neighbors, acquaintances. They allways seem to be experts and have read you shouldnt do this at all and some find it precious and affected.
Can you give me a smart saying or even better something witty to throw in these smart alecks’es faces that would shut them up? What do you say in this kind of situation? I dont always want to explain everything and come with scientific facts…

ml@home is English in German community with single mum

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I, too, have faced some unwelcome looks or comments when I speak to my daughter in Spanish. Here are a few things that may help:
-my pediatrician recommends and supports it for her brain stimulation and development
-countless studies show how the brain processes language in more areas in bilinguals than in monolinguals, children can also more easily learn a 3rd or 4th language when they are bilingual for this very reason.
– a world is being opened to the child, a world of new people to communicate with and understand and a world of opportunities in social, political and economic realms.
-wouldn’t you want to be bilingual? If your parents could have provided that gift to you, wouldn’t you have wanted them to?

Keep going with it! It truly is a priceless gift to your child!

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This article may be useful for you 😉



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It can be frustrating when people, especially those close to us (or who think they are) aren’t supportive of our goals. 

Depending on the comments and the intent with which they are sometimes given, I will share with people:
1.   “Well, I’ve had to work so hard to acquire my second language…I’m thrilled that our children are able to learn 2 languages so easily.  Who knows, maybe they’ll be speaking 4 or 5 languages by the time they are my age!”
2.  “We are so happy to be able to give our children the gift of a second language.”
3.  “It’s hard to create world peace when people can’t talk to each other.”
4.  “Would you be making the same comment if we were talking about French or German?”
5.  “Actually, all the studies DO NOT show that learning 2 languages simultaneously causes late talking.”
6.  “My kids are so much smarter than I am…it took me 40 years to learn Spanish, and they already totally understand it at 2!”

Good luck!


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Suggestion to deflect discouraging comments:

To fight back: question back!

I believe it is not about you and your child: it is about them… Moreover, how the world (including you and your child) should be working according to them…:

Maybe asks:

-First: How many languages do you speak? (hint someone speaking 5 languages is unlikely to find you wanting to teach more than one language to your child weird)

If the smart alecs speak more than two languages: inquiry how they learned them? Unlikely someone using school teaching became fluent? How will they go about learning more languages beside your way they critic ? Be constructive


-Second: Don’t they wish their parents had the same attention for them than you are having for yours? Don’t they wish they learned an other language earlier ?(often this envy talking disguised with such comments)


-Latin was a common language of Renaissance Europe thousand year after the native speakers saw Rome crumbling. Pretty Erasmus did not have the classic  accent of a guy born on the banks of the Tiber: so what? Millions of children are learning English around the world starting with hundreds of million of people India from non-American English teachers? Why only native speakers can teach a language? Are all French teachers born in Paris? Are Physical Education teachers born in gyms? Actually why they think you cannot teach your child now a language of your choice but expect her/him to learn it 2-3 hours pro week from an high-school teacher? Did it work so well for them?


But the best defense maybe to display to become very very sarcastic with such busy-bodies (sarcasm is not understood by everyone but these people don’t understand even your efforts in the first place: hence the issue).

-You want your child: to understand the unbearable aesthetic of haiku in Swahili in the native lingo, to be an Albanian cuisine chef, a great applicant for CIA, MI5, president of EU, UN, World…


Maybe you can add: when/where did they get their PHD in bilingual pedagogy? The world has changed since then: most of educated and less educated people in Asia and Africa are multilingual by needs anyway: Mum language sometimes dad language + community language + Hindi, Mandarin, English, Urdu etc…


And finally you want your child and you to have a secret language to speak with each other. It helps when you want to say to each other what ever you think of someone smart alec comments in front of them…
Hope this help: have fun with those smart alecs…


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Hi,  I am a non native speaker teaching french to my three children since 3.5 years now and felt that when I started that I was always explaining why I had chosen to do this.  There were negatives but the positives in the end out weighed them.  I have found in life that when people don’t understand something that they always phocus on the negative  because it’s easier.  I say to you, if you really want to do this that you can and pie in their eye because in the end you and your children will be the winners.  Good luck and keep going  …. it’s hard work but you can do it.

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Thank you all for your support, I liked the idea about a secret language to make fun of the smart alecs. It’s a bit sassy and a short answer.

Again thanks Katie

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I have a co-worker who claimed my child would always have a foreign accent in English.

My reply was that he was raising his daughter in New Jersey, giving her an accent that would be far worse.
Stefania R Rieger

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I’m only 18 and I dont have kids yet, but I was raised bilingually. My mother and father are both hungarian, they lived in america for a few years. When I was born , my mom decide to only speek in english with me , so I’ll learn the language. This was in the 90s Hungary , “post comunisme” – everyone was looking at her as if she where stupid. But she kept on teaching me english.
When I ask her how she reacted to other peoples comments , she sais she ignored them. Back then there wer’nt much studies on multi-lingual children, she kind of just took a chance.

Hope I coulde help.
Believe me ,youre kid will be very thankfull when she/he grows up. (I am)

Stefania R Rieger (BUdapest)

(yes , my spelling is awfull , sorry)

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Bravo to all of you!

I especially like the idea of telling people you want to make fun of them in their face without them understanding.

My parents were adult-learned bilinguals who never actively used their second languages with us on a day-to-day basis, though we did take a few Arabic classes now and then and learned from them, I always wanted to speak a second langauge.

I told my parents not long ago that I cant readily forgive them for NOT teaching us Arabic and Spanish in home, day to day (They only spoke English at home. The only time my dad or mom spoke their second language was with outsiders.) I’m 19 and struggling, but determined to learn Arabic and Spanish now and I’m doing it on my own (I’ll take classes when I get the chance) but I do intend to learn them and learn them well.

I also want to learn Mandarin, Esperanto, French and Japanese and plan to teach 3 langauges to my kids when I get them.

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Hi every one! My name’s Alicia.
I’m so happy I found this web site since I’ve been also worrying whether I was doing the right thing speaking English to my  5 month baby boy since the day he was born, taking into account that Im Spanish and English is not my mother tongue although  Im quite fluent since Im an English teacher and  lived in UK and Ireland for a while..

In adittion my husband speaks to our baby  in Catalan, his mother tongue, and we live in Spain so Im prettty sure our baby will pick up these languages eventually with no problems but what about English?
My goal is quite humble though, I just want him show understanding litle by litle and become at ease with it, but sometimes when I bump into this kind of discouraging people who tell me Im not doing the right thing because English is not my mother tongue so Im depriving my son from the “true mum-baby communication ” I just get really annoyed!

Luckily I have my husband support, in fact he was the one who talked me into doing it since he knows very well about the advantages of being a truly bilingual.
mY parents , in-laws and close friends also think Im doing the right thing which encourages me the most but when it comes to some relatives or aquitances I just do not get it! Why do the think is so bad?
The comments I get is that it is to artificial, like using a mask and so on but I have to tell you I’ve been feeling quite confortable using English To my son because as an englsih teacher I just use english in my class, never never use spanish!
So my reason is if Im doing it with my students and so far it has proved excellent why shouldn’t I dont with my own son?

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I am glad i found this site. I especially like this post (Katie´s) because we`ve had or better said are having thesame problems raising bilingual children in Germany. we are anglophone cameroonians living in Germany. Comments like ” i wonder if their english is even good enough”  from people who can´t even understand the language are very annoying and we have heard them so many times. We just know in our guts that what we are doing is right and our boys (4 1/2 and 2 years old) are so coorperating that i just want to hug them all day long for it. To be honest our 4 years old does not speak as much German as i would love him to, but then he spends more time with me than in Kindergarten, so this is to be expected. (Please if anyone has an advice on this i would love to hear it, since i am hoping that his German will be good enough before he starts school in 2 years).
However, looking back at our case my husbands and mine that is, gives us a lot of hope and reassurance that we are on the right track. We both could only speak our native tongues and pidgin (Cameroonian languages) before we started school. We still can speak these languages very well and if i may add our english is not bad eventhough a number of people i have met around here wish that.
Ours is a long, story and i wouldn`t  bother you all with it . I encourage every parent who is raising a bilingual child to keep on, even when the little cutties some times mix up the languages. Like ours said some time ago “oh mummy thats not so schlim.”
Best Regards
Cornelia (Mother of Raphael & Gabriel)

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I was brought up in French in an English speaking country by a non-native foster mother and I had also lived in several non-English speaking countries by the time I was 21. I can converse in 9 languages now, 3 of them fluently to the degree that native speakers cannot tell I’m a non-native and then my 2 native languages.

All I can say is that language is a constantly evolving and changing facet of one’s life. I’m in my 30s now, and at different times in my life different languages have had dominance depending on which country I’ve been living in and the language of the organisation for which I’ve been working.

As a kid, occasionally I would get negative comments in public places for speaking a foreign language with friends (“Speak English you wog”, “Go back to your own country” etc). It really puts people in their place when you turn around to them and tell them in English that I probably speak 3 languages better than their 1. Many monolinguals simply don’t comprehend the world of multilingual people. It’s like being in a world where most people are mono-chromatically colour-blind, and you’re one of the few people who can see colour. There’s no way of explaining that way of perceiving the world.


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I am an American who moved to Slovenia 2 years ago.   My wife is Slovene and we live in the town she grew up in.  Our son who is almost 3 years old is multilingual speaking Slovenian as his primary language and English as his secondary.  I speak only English to him all the time… even when we are out in public.  We live in a small town so probably most people know I am the American and nobody really makes a big deal about me speaking English to my son. If they did, I wouldn’t care.. I’ll talk to my son however I well please.

For those who encounter negative people… quite frankly I’d just ignore them, it’s none of their business how you raise your child and by doing this, you’ll show your child it is important to be an individual and stand up for your own beliefs and ideas without making some snide remark back.

susannealia Montreal CAN

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hi everyone,

I have 2 bright budding bilingual twin girls of 6, I am a native english speaker and my husband, a native francophone. They also learn a further language at their school, which sells itself on being a bilingual school, as kids are educated half days in french, half days in English, with subject timetable being switched each year. They are very happy to chat with friends in either language and easily do so. 

My husband`s family continually peck at our collars, saying that the girls can only learn `proper french` in a french-language school as it is such a hard language. The local french-language schools only provide English studied as a 2nd language for 2-3 hours a week, and no 3rd language exposure. It seems that any reasoned explanations or replies, even obviously that mum is an english speaker, are totally beyond their comprehension after more than 2 years of in-exhaustive persuasive efforts… but patience is wearing thin at my end. I would rather maintain harmonious family relations, but feel the steam ready to burst !


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