We encourage you to talk back! Expert advice is nice, but we all love to hear what other parents are doing. So, don’t just ask questions but share your own experience, thoughts, ideas, tips and examples.
Oh and please read these short guidelines before you post. If you need, here are commonly used acronyms.

 |  New Posts  |  Chat


Author Comment


Reply with quote
Good morning everybody, it is a pleasure for me to write for the first time on this board i find very usefull and interesting.

I will be father for the first time in few days

I’m italian and that’s my native language
My wife is from Africa, her native language (oops…colonial language sorry) is french
I speak english quite well

We’re thinking about using OPOL method speaking our daughter english (me) + french (my wife)

Our daughter would learn italian from her grands and from school (later)

Do you think it to be a good way to make she learn three languages at the same time?
Can we start immediately?

Can we (parents) sometime switch to italian language with our daughter, or is it much better to go on only with OPOL…so she would ear italian just from grandparents and outside (street, school…..) ?

Thank You and ciao!!!

Reply with quote
Hi Enrico,

First – congratulations on your new baby, if he/she has arrived by now! And good luck if he/she is still making you wait 😉

Just a question – do you and your wife speak English to eachother? If not, I think you’ll find it very hard to keep up the English as it’s not your native language. Unless you have an English network (nursery, family, visits etc.) to help and support you, being the only source of a non-native language would be tough. And your son/daughter will not have any motivation to learn the language beyond a few words and phrases, once he/she figures out you are the only source and you speak Italian/French to your wife. However, if the language spoken in the family (between just the three of you) is English it would make sense to teach him/her. Otherwise I would stick to two laguages and OPOL.

Erik K

Reply with quote
Congratulations for having your new baby. I fear you might be too busy to read this, but I hope you do!

Your idea of speaking to your daughter in English (you) + French (wife) is an excellent idea.

I agree with Caroline that you should find other English speakers. If possible, find native speakers.

If you can’t find an English speaking child playgroup, you could post messages on this website and other English language forums. Explain exactly where in Italy you live, and that you are hoping to find English speaking kids for play dates.

I know that many British people retire in Italy. Are there any living near you? You could befriend them and, when your child is a little older, he or she can listen while you talk with those retirees.

Hopefully those retired Brits have grandchildren who sometimes visit. You child could maybe play with them.

Also, you could post messages on French language forums. Explain exactly where in Italy you live, and that you are hoping to find French speaking kids for play dates.


Reply with quote
Hey here thanks a lot for replies! still waiting anyway, and it’s hard!
me and my queen do speak italian each other, so english will be the minority language for sure. but i’m quite inside music biz so … and i will be firm on my non-native language speaking with my daughter….hopefully we gonna have a trilingual baby lioness soon
we live close to Venice, would like to know if there’s some group here!

Thank You
Enrico+Mireille+Ambra Makeda (39 weeks and over…)


Reply with quote
Hello Enrico,

Congratulations on your new baby!

My husband and I have a similar situation as yours. My husband is Italian and I am from NY and we live in NY. I speak only english to our daughter, my husband speaks only italian and my mom, who luckily lives near us, speaks only spanish (her native language) to her. When we travel to Italy, we all speak italian and when we are in public or with friends in NY we all speak english. We have been doing this since my daughter was born and now she is 2 and understands all three languages and speaks all three. I like this method because I think she is learning the languages without foreign accents as we are all using our mother tongues. Although english is her strongest because of our environment it is awesome to see how well she is mastering all three languages. I am planning to introduce french because I speak it but she will have to go to school for that one!!

Good luck to you and tanti auguri per tutti tre!!


Reply with quote
Hi all!!
just a quick update on our trilingual family
i keep on speaking exclusively english with my daughter and the same does my wife with french
Actually our daughter is 19 months and she’s mixing lot of words…some in italian, some french and some english…”ciao ciao”  “down”  “bua (to drink)” “grazie” “mercie” …..she ears more french than english as my wife spends more time than me with her.
I really think my daughter is now struggling “against” english…i can understand this from the expression on her face when i urge and remind her to talk english to me….and she regularly reply me in italian (and i’m asking you this: do i have to insist till which point if she does not answer me in english?)…so i’m really fighting a ruff battle now! but i’m confident i’m going to be victorious.

Italian is predominant, as she attends italian school and spend lot of time with my parents….

I realize now there will be not many chances for my daughter to learn english without a proper support, so I’m looking for some english talking/game group near VENICE-ITALY if possible

Thank You
Enrico+Mireille+Ambra Makeda

Reply with quote
Hi and congrats on getting your child to speak all three languages!
Coming up to 2 yrs is when the child starts to develop his/her vocal language. She’s experimenting and it’s normal to be a bit confused at first. What she gets used to now will most likely stick with her for the rest of her life. But the worst thing you can do is to make her feel pressured into talking english back to you. She mustn’t feel forced to.
I am half Chinese half French. My partner is French too. We moved from London to New York but speak French between the 2 of us. We have a 3and a half year old. I speak to her exclusively in Chinese, and although we have never lived in China, Chinese is her first language. Because of her environment and the fact that she started Preschool in september, her English is now better than her French. But she stills speaks to her father only in French (as well as grandparents).
Recently, she’s tried to say words in English to me, or ask me things in English, I simply tell her that I don’t understand or even just say “What?” or “Excuse me?” (in chinese of course) and eventually she gets it that she needs to say it in Chinese. I try not to say things like “Say that in chinese” or “Don’t speak to me in english”, this puts limits on her and could have a negative effect on the language development.
I hope this helps.

I also have a question I want to put out there. So our daughter has really grasped the concept of languages, countries etc…We travel a lot. She knows what language to respond in depending on what language the person who is talking to her is using. I think that 3 languages is already pretty good but recently, she’s shown an interest in Spanish. She has a few spanish speaking friends and I also speak a good amount as I had studied it and went travelling in south america. I’m now thinking whether it’s too much to add another language. Then again, she’s showing inetrest and even asks me to speak to her in spanish as a game (she responds in made up spanish, although knows “como te lamas?” and “bueno”). She’s doing this more and more and this actually goes against my “rules” as I’d rather only stick to Chinese with her. I was thinking of getting some spanish language dvd for kids, something like Little Pim. But there’s no one specific person who would speak to her in Spanish. Although living in NY we hear plenty of spanish around, and maybe that’s where it’s coming from…
Anyways, any recommendation or pointers would be greatly appreciated.

Del and Dolma (3 and a half)


Reply with quote
Thank you very much dear Del, appreciate.

I can’t help you bout spanish matter, but i suppose that if your daughter has solid chinese+french+english foundations it is not a problem to go on with a fourth language….
but i perfectly understand it is not easy for you as you always spoke her Chinese!

Previous Topic

| Next Topic


Quick Navigation: