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Hi everyone,

My son is almost 3 years old. We have taught him using the OPOL method: I speak English to him, my husband speaks Italian and his caregiver speaks Russian (and we currently live in NYC, so English is primary community language). So, far he understands all three languages and uses English the most, Italian second (which gets a much-needed boost twice a year with a visit to my in-laws in Italy) and he still pretty much refuses to speak Russian. For better or worse, there are two big changes in terms of language that are coming up for our family…

So, big change #1: Our nanny is leaving us in about 4 months and we will most likely have to find a pre-school for 4 mornings/week for our son’s care until we leave the country. We have looked for a russian pre-school/playgroup but the only one in the area teaches 3 year olds every saturday for 3 hours and we will do this. Still I need to put him in a pre-school for 3 more mornings during the week. So, in looking at preschools that have availability, we have the following options in our area: i) a dual-language english-spanish preschool, ii) a french immersion preschool, or iii) an only english speaking preschool (sadly there are no Italian language preschools around). Our son has had no exposure to spanish or French so far (but my husband and I both speak spanish fluently).

Big change #2: With my husband’s UN job, he rotates countries every 5 or so years. and within the next year, we will move for my husband’s work either to Tanzania (English is one of the lingua Franca’s), Thailand or Switzerland (French speaking area). So, we plan on enrolling our son in an international school, so that we can keep his curriculum as consistent as possible between moves. We have heard of British, American and French Schools. We lean towards the French school because we believe in the power and benefits of learning languages and believe that he will always get good exposure to English from me (the main caregiver of the family). We are however uncertain about the quality of the curriculum in other ways.

With what we know (above), it seems that it would make most sense to put Raffa in French classes to start building that language as it may potentially be a primary language for him at school AND we may some day live in a French-speaking country.

So here are our big questions:
1) Since my son is not exactly excelling in a tri-lingual experience, does it make sense to completely immerse him in a new fourth language now? Or Would it be better to have a dual-language program? if we can’t find a french one, does it make sense to do Spanish? or Would it be better to wait till he’s older? (We are worried about long term psychological effects…confusion speaking… he’s already the most shy in his class)
2) In any case, should we give up the Russian, if we are no longer able to support it and believe that it would be hard to do so in future home-locations?
3) Any experience-based recommendations for one of the international language schools mentioned or others?

Thank you,
Christina, mom to Raffa (just shy of 3 years old)


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hi Christina – our case is similar like yours – if u are interested – drop me an email !

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