The ABCs of Multilingual Parenting: The Letter G

by Corey · 3 comments

G is for Get Together!

When is the last time that your children spent time with people (other than you and your spouse) who speak your language? We often forget how important it is that our children are exposed to people of all ages who speak their languages. It makes your language part of a larger context and connected to a real, live culture!

Yet, how can we make this happen if we aren’t living in a community where our language is spoken? The key is getting together, face to face, with other people who speak our language. Depending on where you live, this may not be an easy task.

As you saw in the last post, finding families in our area who speak our language is an activity unto itself. But there are other ways to make this happen:

  • Travel: When is the last time you spent time in a country that speaks your language? This is the very best way to expose our children to other language speakers! There is so much more to language than just words – there are sights and sounds and smells which become a part of the language we speak.
  • Neighborhoods: Some cities have international districts where a target language is spoken by shopkeepers and others who work and live in the area.  If your city doesn’t have such a district, then find a city nearby that does have one and make a point of visiting it soon and often.
  • Skype:If you have never used skype to connect with family and/or friends back home, you really should! And if you don’t know anyone in countries where your language is spoken, then ask around to find out if there are schools or other families who would like to connect with you and your family via skype. To make it even more real, have the other person do skype while out and about in the community so that your child can see it.
  • Films: Short of actually getting together with other human beings that speak our language, films can be a good alternative. Find DVDs that were made in your language and filmed in a culture where the language is spoken. Your child won’t be able to experience the country first-hand but will at least be exposed to your language in accurate context. It is wonderful to be able to pause the film and point out things unique to the culture. Documentaries can also be wonderful for this.

What are your tips for how to get together with others who speak your language? Share your tips and ideas in the comments below!


We are going through the alphabet one letter at a time, multilingual-style! Join in the fun and add your own ideas, suggestions and tips in the comments below that begin with today’s letter! Check out all of the ABC’s of Multilingual Parenting posts so far!

Corey Heller is the founder of Multilingual Living and the Editor-In-Chief/Publisher of Multilingual Living Magazine. Multilingual Living is the place where she shares her knowledge about raising multilingual and multicultural children. Corey, an American, and her German husband live in Seattle where they raise and homeschool their three children, ages 15, 14 and 12, in German and English.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Chitty March 28, 2011 at 10:55 pm

I like get-together! I would add “growth” to the G-list as well. Growth in language skills, personal growth, growth of the multilingual family community!


2 Anke March 29, 2011 at 12:27 am

G is for grandparents! The proof that it’s not just mummy / daddy speak a weird language, they are a wonderful way for little ones to connect with both language and heritage of the minority language. Of course the majority grandparents can also influence and encourage the second language (or undermine it)…


3 Melissa Ferrin March 29, 2011 at 12:22 pm

I would say grandparents–unfortunately for many it’s what we are lacking. My children lost their Mixteco speaking Grandmother two years ago.

As a Foreign Language teacher I would also say Games. Because games are a way to bring a language to life for it’s learners. Playing in and with a language makes it truely yours in a way other uses do not.


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