Before I ask my question I’d like to thank you for all of your good work.
My question is how to convince my husband to speak to our daughter in “his” language.
My daughter is going to be 3 years old in November. We speak English at home and I speak to my daughter in both English and Czech (my nationality). She is fluent in both and uses both languages in correct circumstances.
My husband is Portuguese, but doesn’t speak to her in his language. I keep trying to convince him to speak Portuguese with her, but I don’t have any good arguments that can help me to help him to start.
I am capable of teaching her well in both English and Czech languages as she is already showing great results and has no problem with any of these two. I think it would be a great asset for my husband to teach her a third language.
I do understand Portuguese from his family gatherings but can not speak it very well. I can get my message accross if I need to, but don’t feel confident to bring the Portuguese to my daughter as a third language.
How should I convince my husband to start speaking to her in Portuguese?
You may want to ask yourself why you wish to introduce your girl to a third language. Languages are assets where you need them, to be able to fit in adequately in your daily life. Adding more languages for their own sake does not necessarily result in a better life.
Having said this, one goal of introducing Portuguese as a home language would be for your daughter and her father’s relatives to be able to communicate in that language, although I presume that they must be using another language for this purpose. If they are, this would require your husband’s family to also switch to Portuguese from now on. This is no problem at all, provided, of course, that the Portuguese speakers in your girl’s environment are willing to do so, your husband included. He must have had his reasons for choosing not to use Portuguese at home.
I agree with you that speaking to your child in a language in which you feel no confidence is probably not a good idea. You could have your girl visit her Portuguese-speaking relatives on a regular basis and leaving them on their own, if this is feasible (you don’t say where you live). If these relatives include other children, she will learn the language in a fun way, through peer interaction. This is no problem either: it would not surprise me that your girl already understands Portuguese, from the same exposure to family gatherings that you report of yourself.
Otherwise, you can rest assured that your girl will learn Portuguese, or any other language, when she feels the need to do so. She won’t be missing out on anything by not learning a new language at age 3.
Do feel free to contact me privately, if you wish to discuss these matters in greater detail.