Should I Speak Two Languages With My Children?

by Corey · 0 comments

I’m a bilingual from Spain (Spanish and Catalan) working and living in Germany, where I met my girlfriend. She is Romanian and at home we speak mostly Spanish and English 50/50 (just a little bit of Romanian and German).

The question I have concerns our future children. We are thinking that the best would be: Mum=Romanian, Dad=Spanish, Environment=German.  But as I have another “mother tongue”, I’m not sure if I should instead speak it with our children or not.  Would it be too much to speak with them also in Catalan? How would be the best way?  Thank You,  Jordi

Dear Jordi,
The best way is the one that comes naturally to you and your girlfriend. When you come to meet your child(ren) for the first time, and even before they are born, you will see that one of your languages, or another, or both, or all of them, will feel right to speak to them. Just like you and your girlfriend now naturally use four languages with each other without wondering what is “best”, you will do the same with your children.

Many languages are not too much. Multilinguals use as many languages as they need because that’s what’s natural to them, and multilingual children like yours will learn to do likewise.  So feel free to use Catalan and Spanish with your children if that feels comfortable to you.

What won’t work is forcing yourself to constantly think about which language to use to whom when and where and why. Your children need parenting from you, not language worries. I’m sure you’re not wondering about how best to expose your children to Romanian, Spanish, Catalan and German culture and traditions. That will come naturally, and the same goes for languages. Children will learn their languages in the same way that they learn any other cultural patrimony that matters to them.

Do feel free to contact me privately, if you wish to discuss these matters in greater detail.


Stay tuned to Multilingual Living for specific tips on how to speak two languages with your child without getting confused yourself!

Madalena Cruz-Ferreira, PhD, University of Manchester, UK, is a multilingual parent, educator and scholar, and the author of Multilinguals are...?, a book on myths and misconceptions about multilingualism. Her blog Being Multilingual deals with multilingualism at home, in school and in clinic. Her contact, and details on her work, are at:

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