Trilingual children: Expat families and languages

Written by on August 15, 2016 in People, Perspectives - Comments Off on Trilingual children: Expat families and languages

There are different kinds of expat families. Some share the same nationality, others do not. Some begin raising their children in their home country, before they become expats. In some cases, members of an expat family have two or more different nationalities, but they live in a third country, which none of them was born or raised in.

The world is small. Nowadays, we live all over the place. Some of us change countries like shirts. Unless you are a Latino moving from Bogotá to Santiago de Chile, a Briton moving from Liverpool to Atlanta, or a French citizen moving from Marseille to Quebec, foreign languages play a big role in what we do. This applies even more, when we have children.

How does one approach the language situation? There are basically four ways:

1. Parents who simply ignore their mother tongue.

Example: A single, Bulgarian mother lives in Spain, with her little daughter. She talks to her in Spanish, exclusively. That way, the little girl will speak Spanish at the kindergarten, at school, with friends, and at home. This might be a conscious decision. Or that parent might just not have thought about the language question much.

Here, the following question arises: Why? This little girl will not have advantages connected to becoming bilingual at an early age. The child will not be able to communicate with baba and dyado, at home in Varna or Pazardzhik.

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