Raising A Multilingual Child

raising a multilingual child

“Knowing your language isn’t as important as knowing your community and the people in it.”

Before Ean was born I wrote an article on the subject of national identity and how we were planning to teach Ean the four languages between us. The above quote is from that article and as I re-read it now my thoughts and feelings about it haven’t really changed at all but we did deviate from what we had planned initially.

By the time Ean was born, I made a last minute decision to alternate Swedish and Assyrian every week, and I did. Every Monday for 1.5 year, my linguistic computer had to reboot and reset. In the beginning it was fine but as he got older and started understanding what we were saying, I could see the confusion in his eyes every time Monday rolled in.

I’ve spent about 12 hours per day with Ean since he was born, while his mother spends about 2-3 hours per day during weekdays and catches up on weekends with more quality time. Considering that you’d think his first word would be Swedish, but Ean’s first word was in Spanish. His second, third and fourth were also Spanish.

Let’s just say his entire vocabulary is Spanish and considering how much time I spend with him compared to Ana, that’s a bit strange to me! When this kept going on for quite some time, I decided to abandon the bi-weekly language switches and go with the initial plan, to teach him Swedish first. Continue reading

National Identity in a Multilingual Home

Hello word cloud in different languagesMy father was born in Iraq, my mother in Iran. Both of them are of Assyrian decent. I was born in Iran and because my parents are Assyrian, we speak Assyrian with each other and I call myself Assyrian. Due to the inconvenience of risking having our heads chopped off by muslims during the Islamic revolution, we fled Iran when I was only one year old.

I grew up in a small Swedish suburb, one of very few immigrants. I was well integrated and obviously spoke the language fluently and flawlessly. At home we spoke Assyrian but the rest of my linguistic stimulation was Swedish. 30 years later I moved to Malta. Continue reading