I need some help. Our family is a multilingual family. I am Hungarian, my husband is Lebanese. We are living in Lebanon. The common language between my husband and me is English but I speak Hungarian with our kids and he speaks Arabic or French with them. At the kindergarten they only speak French.
As the kids are getting older, we realize that we are facing a problem: we don’t have a “family” language. I only speak very basic Arabic and French and my husband does not speak Hungarian.
How can we introduce a family language? Would we confuse our children if we started talking to them English when we are all together?
Thank you very much in advance,
You say that you don’t have a family language, and you mean “one” family language. You do have several family languages, so let me start by saying that you will go on having several family languages, even if you decide to call one of them “the family language” from now on. This is no problem at all, many families like yours are in the same situation.
I understand that what you mean is one language that all of you can use together, and your choice is English. Using English with your children will not be confusing at all, because they are already used to this language: you also say that you and your husband use it with each other, and I’m sure you do this when the children are around too. So you may be pleasantly surprised to find that your children already understand English, and also understand that English is a family language.
You and your husband can use English with the children when you are together. This doesn’t mean (and I don’t think you meant it either) that you will stop using your other languages with them. Children don’t get confused about language uses or about anything that makes sense to them. To your children, English will simply acquire a new status in the family: it won’t just be the language that mum and dad use together any longer.
Do feel free to contact me privately, if you wish to discuss these matters in greater detail.