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  Reply with quote  #16 

I’m Thai and my husband is Israeli. Our Kids were born and raised in the US.
We use OPOL and it works well with us. Recently we just moved back to Israel,
our children are doing fine in public schools which use Hebrew. They started to learn
the 4th language by themselves.

So I agree with OPOL. Cheers!


  Reply with quote  #17 
Hi there!

We have a very similar setting. I have two daughters age 3 and a half and one and a half. I’m Italian and my husband is a German speaker, we used to live and met in London where our first daughter was born. We used the OPOL system that is I would speak Italian to my daughter and my husband would speak German. We would speak English one another and she would get English passively from the environment. When she was one we moved to a French speaking country and we kept exactly the same family setting just we used french with the rest of the world (we are both fluent french) and my girl started a twice a week playgroup in french too. We now live in a German speaking country and we have another daughter too! We kept exactly the same family setting: I speak Italian to the girls, my husband speak German to them and we speak English to one another. I don’t speak German yet so all my friends belong to the expat community and the same for all my girls friends. My daughters also attend an English speaking playgroup so we are running on three languages. At the moment my three years old could be defined as a mothertoungue Italian absolutely in line with kids her age back in Italy. English is def. her second language and she uses it to interact with all her friends, to watch TV, read books and sometimes also to play with her little sister. German is her weaker language at the moment because she has less exposure but she understand everything and when she’s left with my husband family she can speak works linked together and she can get by.. it will all get better in this respect when she starts school in German. They do not get confused but as it normally happen my first daughter spoke later than her peers. She had less words in Italian and she could do only word association by age two. She would not use English until well into two and a half or three! French came but then we were relocated as soon as she started speaking so we dropped it. Our second daughter seam to be much faster in this respect. Age 20 months she’s already said many words in all three language. Surprisingly English seam to be a much stronger language for her! Sometimes she even prefers it to Italian. We will see how it goes but you don’t get depressed. Keep on going with OPOL and you’ll get good results..
PS: in my experience the father language seam to be the “weakest” one but I guess that’s due to the amount of time the father get to spend with his kids. Ultimately the kids will catch up in their own time!

  Reply with quote  #18 
We also have a trilingual home.  I am french, my husband’s Thai and we live in the US.  Our oldest is 2 and speaks French and Thai and does not mix languages any more.  We are pretty strict about our language approach. I speak French only and my husband speaks Thai only to her.  She hears English outside and when my husband and I talk to each other.  We suspect that she understands some English, although we don’t know how much.
S far so good, we are not worried about English since it is everywhere around us.
Good luck to all of you.
Huy and company
  Reply with quote  #19 
Hi all.
My girl and I are having a baby boy very soon and we were wondering how to approach this.
I am a Vietnamese male.
She is Finnish.
We speak English to each other.
And to make it more exciting, we live in Denmark.
So uhm…our little one will be exposed to Vietnamese, Danish, Finnish and English…and we have NO idea how to do this the “right” way….

  Reply with quote  #20 
Hi all,
Very interesting stories and very sweet them all. I just have a question. For those trilingual families who have more than one child, which language do brothers/sisters use to communicate?The same as the parents?
Thank you!
Good luck!

  Reply with quote  #21 
 I just have a question. For those trilingual families who have more than one child, which language do brothers/sisters use to communicate?The same as the parents?

Unai, answering your question:  At home I speak Spanish to my children aged 7 and 5, while my husband speaks to them in English. 
We are in France so the children go to a French school.  Between them, the children speak in French, but they know that to me they must speak Spanish and English to daddy.  They seem to have no problem with this, but if you ask them they will tell you that their preferred language is French!

This might help, I wrote them based on my personal experience:
Sophie Gee
  Reply with quote  #22 
I was really concerned that my husband and I were unique cases but after I found this forum I realised this is definitely not so and I am positive I will find answers to my questions here!
First of all we are both bilingual coming both from mixed marriages. I am Bulgarian Greek( Cypriot) and he is English Greek (Cypriot). We are living in Cyprus. We also speak many other languages (Italian, German, French) but they are learned, not acquired and certainly not native. 
I am now pregnant and already wondering what languages to speak to the baby. My husband thinks we might confuse her if I speak in Bulgarian, he in English and let the Greek be learned from the environment. The more I read here, the more I think it is possible. I still have strong ties with Bulgaria and many relatives and we constantly travel to the U.K. as well.

Do you have any suggestions for us? Should we start with two languages and add a third one later as some articles advice or should we start with all 3 languages at the same time? When would learning a fourth language be safe to start?


  Reply with quote  #23 
Dear Sophia,

I think you should speak Bulgarian to your child from the day one and your housband in English. The baby will learn Greek from the enviorment, toys,tv ect. Then she/he will go to kindergarden or some kind of day care and will learn even more.
My daughter is 2years and 3 months old – i speak only Polsih to her, my husband only in Spanish and we live in Ireland (we speak english to each other). Until 2 weeks ago she didnt have much contact with english speaking kids and despite that she knew a lot of words in English. Animal names, some colors, greetings etc… all from toys and that bit tv that she watches.
Now she learns to recognize languages, for example now she went to kindergarden so i try to speak a little english to her so she picks up the most important things faster and then she immidietly answers in english, or when i just use one spanish word she will answer in spanish…..
Their brain is amazing! Total sponge. If we had their capacity we all would be genuises!
So dont worry your baby will speak all 3 languages natively without any problems. It will be as natural for her/him as one language to monolingual child.

Also they say that kids who are bi/trilingual speak later-well my daughter speaks more than any other 2 year old we know !

Good luck
  Reply with quote  #24 
Hello, everybody,
 It is very refreshing to read all these e-mails. I am a concerned grandmother of two grandchildren, a boy (3) and a girl (16 months.) We try to raise them trilingual: Russian, Japanese, and English. Russian is spoken by their father and two grandparents. Their mother sticks to Japanese only, and English is spoken between both parents at home as well as at the childcare where my grandson goes twice a week. Our grandson understands very well all three languages but his speaking ability is very limited. When he tries to speak, it seems like he needs to make an effort to produce certain sounds. He is working with a speech therapist now, he was tested for all possible developmental problems but his hearing is perfect and it seems like he does not have any issues that would stop him from speaking. He is very smart and he gets his point across anyway but I worry about him being labeled as developmentally delayed. I wonder what is the experience of those parents who put their children into the school environment? Are their children singled out and put into special programs? Does this situation vary from school to school? Will he be labeled as “weird’ by his peers? None of us wants to give up on making children speak all three languages but sometimes I start having serious doubts: the psychological pressure might outweigh the benefits of trilingual experience. I use three languages in my everyday life on a regular bases and I still get comments like “Oh, we love your accent!” But I am an adult who is an academic and who works in an environment that welcomes diversity. What about school experiences for those of you who continue with fostering all three languages?
Many thanks in advance,

  Reply with quote  #25 

I have two children.  I am Canadian and my husband Mexican.  However I speak Spanish and we speak Spanish in the home and the girls learn English with everyone outside the home.  However now I have put the older girl in French School.  I am very nervous if this is a good option to learn the third language.  I speak French, and the school recomends I speak French at home however I fear this will interfere with our strict language rule of Spanish in the home to protect that language.  Does anyone have a similar situation?  Will she learn French just by doing her schooling in French.

  Reply with quote  #26 
Our situation is not unlike yours. I have three daughters (5, 4 and 18mths). We both speak our mother tongues to the children (my wife is Polish and I am Irish but English speaking). We live in Holland and the kids (will) go to Dutch school.
My older daughters speak Dutch as L1 and Polish as a very strong L2. English is the weaker L3 though they hear it all the time as I speak to my wife in English. If I were you I would not worry that Spanish is weaker than Polish. Spanish and English are very similar so it is a lot easier to regain lost ground than with Polish. If Polish is lost it tends to be gone forever, I know many Polish/Dutch kids who understand it but never really speak it. In the right situation they do speak Polish but with a strong Dutch accent.
In our situation I am happy that English is the weakest because it will definitely improve over the years given that it is a world language. The same can be said of Spanish. The value of speaking Spanish is obvious even to somebody with no interest in languages as cultural assets.
Good luck!
Priscilla Taoufik
  Reply with quote  #27 
I am expecting my first child and am having a difficult time deciding on a language system.
Here is my situation:
*We live in the United States.
*My husband speaks Arabic, Spanish, and English
*I speak English, Spanish, and conversational Arabic

What I know for sure:
1)My husband and mother in law will speak to my son in Arabic
2)My husband and I will continue to communicate in Spanish
3) I will speak to my son in Spanish
4) As a family we will speak Spanish
5)My son will be exposed to English outside of the home through other relatives and later on when he goes to school

My doubt:
*While I know that my son will eventually pick up English at school, I have a desire to still provide him with significant learning experiences in English early on. For example, I am a first grade teacher and I want to be able to read to him in English from the beginning, especially since there is more variety of literature available in English. However, since Spanish is a minority language, I worry that bringing in the English will diminish the Spanish. 

Any advice on what I should do? Should I just make it my priority to speak to him in Spanish since he will eventually get the English? If I decide to read to him in English will that confuse him?

Anetta Now
  Reply with quote  #28 
Here is my story. I speak Polish to my two sons, 41/2 and 21/2, my husband French and naturally they are picking up English at school. I try very hard to stick to my language of choice and have been succesful. So when my kids respond to me in English I snap and get very angry. My older is mixing the three, replys in whichever he feels best in at the moment, even if when I ask him to say it in Polish he can put it together. SHould I continue to ask him to speak with me in POlish or should I let him feel free to mix and match? I havent seen an expert yet, but I feel the time has come.
  Reply with quote  #29 
Hello Anetta
I’m polish too and my daughter is nearly 3,5. My husband speaks Spanish and we live in Ireland.
When she went to day care at 2,5 she had a period of speaking English to me, but i just kept answering in polish.
My husband speaks Spanish to her and she understands it but she speaks lots of English to him and then he automatically replied in English, where i try to keep to polish.
So now she speaks fluent polish, fluent English and not so fluent Spanish. Now we are away in Poland for few month and my husband stayed in Ireland,so when they talk on skype she can say something like: daddy daddy look its….. zepsute” hehehe
so she does mix but only if she cannot find a right word in a language that she is speaking at the moment.
Anetta i think the most important is that they understand the language,so keep speaking to them in polish, and i read somewhere that kids can mix languages until they are about 6, then they realize more which language is which and who speaks which language…..
i think constantly correcting them, and pushing them to speak
one of the languages will only create unnecessary tensions.
Read to them in polish, talk to them and maybe try not to pay attention which language they reply in, most important is that when they need to they will speak it (for example when you go visit your family in Poland)….
My husband’s cousin in Mexico has a polish wife too, they have two daughters of 7and 3 and she only speaks to them in polish, but because nobody else around speaks it the older one was embarrassed to speak it. So the girls always reply to their mother in Spanish, but when the grandmother comes to visit, they know she doesn’t speak Spanish and they speak polish to her………
  Reply with quote  #30 
I am not an expert but I am a psychologist and also have two children aged 9 and 6 who are both trilingual: Spanish (from my side) English (from husband’s side) and French (we are currently living in France).

From my experience I can tell you that it is normal that children mix languages.  Little by little they will start separating them.  The best thing for me was to leave the children to their own to sort it out. 

You should continue speaking in Polish to them even if they answer back in another language.  Also I would strongly advice not to get angry with your children because they are not speaking the language you want.
My 6 year old had a period when he refused to speak Spanish.  I left him alone to speak French (his preferred language) but continue speaking Spanish to him.  Eventually when my Spanish speaking mom came to visit us he just started to speak in Spanish as he knew that it was the only language my mom understood.

Do not force your children to speak a certain language.  They will speak it when they feel the need for it.

I wrote this might you might find it helps

Keep in touch,



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