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Irina B.

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Hello everyone!

I am so glad I found this web-site and forum with the topic that is also the topic of my Master’s research project! I am looking for parents who raise their children bilingually speaking a language that is neither their native language, nor the community language (children preferably older than 4). If you would be willing to fill out a questionnaire (it has two parts: in part one I need you to assess your own level of language skills and in part two you will need to answer questions about your child’s speech development, your approach, difficulties and joys of this unique situation – about 40 questions), please contact me at [email protected], I would really appreciate your help! Questionnaires are available in English or German.

To introduce myself: my husband and I come originally from Kazakhstan (native language Russian), both are fluent in English and German (we moved to Germany 5 years ago). Our daughter is nearly 2 and we speak German and Russian to her (OPOL), planning to switch to only Russian at home when she starts kindergarten. We were considering speaking English to her, but for a number of reasons decided not to. Personally, I still think, it is possible to raise a child bilingually even with a non-native language. I believe this method deserves to be investigated and described, so I chose it as the subject of my research.

I haven’t had a chance yet to see all the threads here and maybe someone has already mentioned it, but here is a great book written by an Australian who raised his children bilingual speaking non-native German to them:
George Saunders, Bilingual Children: From Birth to Teens
I think it can help many of you here who have concerns because of the “artificial” nature of the situation.

If you have any questions, I will be happy to share what I already learned!
I hope someone can help me!


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Yes, you are right, it is possible and we have done it! We loved Saunders book & he was an inspiration. It is hard work, but it can be done.

We have raised a very fluent trilingual from birth in 2 languages that the parents do not speak and are not the native language of the country they were in. Mandarin has been harder for us, but she is doing well in it as well & should really shoot ahead when we spend the next few winters in Asia to help her immerse very deeply in reading & writing.

Like Saunders we are using travel to help ( not until after 6 years old when she was already fluent and reading very well in her first language…then we added a few months each winter in a local school in Spain for a deeper immersion for writing, reading & cultural immersion, plus experiencing the 2nd language as a dominant language & the advantages of being a polyglot while traveling).

One of our native speaking bilingual teachers that worked for us as a language “babysitter” also helped another family of monolinguals raise bilingual kids. She was so impressed with how advanced my child was in Spanish at 2ish when we met , especially compared to how poor my husband’s Spanish was (he only talked to her in Spanish from birth in his limited & very accented Spanish) & mine was worse, that she convinced her sister in Columbia who just had a baby to switch to talking to her baby only in English. My child has no accent and speaks like a child who grew up with native speaking parents.

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Hi Irina,

I don’t know if you are still looking for people to help with your research but I am not a native speaker of Spanish and have been trying to bring up my 3 year old bilingual (Spanish/English) for a year now. I have a blog that I just started called I would be happy to fill out your survey. Let me know,


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