QUIZ: What Type of Multilingual Parent Are You?

by Corey · 18 comments

By Alice Lapuerta
Originally published in Multilingual Living Magazine

What type of multilingual parent do you think you are? Take our quiz and find out. Make sure to answer honestly! You might be surprised at the results.

Not happy with the results? Don’t take them too seriously! This quiz is just for fun. However, it might inspire you to do things differently or to be even more motivated to stick with what you are doing. Enjoy!

1. When you are on the playground with your child, you…
switch to the language that everyone else speaks.
B. stick religiously to the language that you always speak to your child, even though others don’t understand your exchange.
C. get embarrassed (what will the others think when you speak in a different language?) and, not knowing in what language to speak, you try to say as little as possible.
D. mix. You at least try to be consistent but can’t help but fall into the majority language sometimes.

2. Five languages…
will overwhelm and confuse your child.
B. is impossible.
C. might be possible but you’d rather not deal with so many languages.
D. is a blessing! Research says a child can learn up to 5 languages easily.

3. When your child speaks to you in the “wrong” language, you…
ignore him. Your child will only get what he wants if it’s said in the right language!
B. repeat back what s/he just said in the “right” language, then continue the conversation in that language.
C. conclude that bilingualism isn’t working.
D. don’t even notice that it was in the “wrong” language and reply in whatever language your child speaks to you first.

4. Your child tells you that s/he doesn’t want to speak your language with you anymore.
You’ve always feared this might happen. This is the end of your bilingual family situation!
B. No chance. Your child will speak your language with you no matter what!
C. You stop speaking your language with your child – after all it’s what s/he wants.
D. You try to talk to your child (in your language) to find out what caused his/her sudden change of mind.

5. Someone in a position of authority (teacher, doctor or therapist) told you that you are not doing your child a favor by using two, three or more languages in your family and that you should drop one language.
You think that you should consider their advice; after all, they are authorities, right?
B. You reply: “M-hm. I will think about it,” and blithely continue with your four languages at home.
C. You get mad at their ignorance so you start to argue and cite from research the benefits that children get from growing up multilingual.
D. You know that they are wrong but a seed of worry has been planted in your mind so you need reassurance that multilingualism won’t harm your child after all.

6. When it comes to literature on bilingualism, you…
Know all the names of the linguists in the field of bilingualism and what kind of research they do.
B. Have read a handbook on Bilingualism a long time ago, and some names ring a bell, but that’s about it.
C. Read what’s posted on various online forums and a random article now and then, but only for reassurance that you are doing the right thing.
D. Don’t believe in theory. You’ll figure it out alone through trial and error.

7. You think your bilingual child has speech delay:
You immediately take her to a speech therapist to get her checked.
B. You seek help in online forums for bilingual families and ask around whether other people have experienced the same problem.
C. You don’t do anything for now. It’ll go away on its own.
D. You consult all your books and become an expert on the research on speech development and bilingualism, and based on these findings you decide whether it’s necessary to take further steps, or not.

8. Your reaction to the word “OPOL” is…
B. “That’s (not) what we’re doing. But what about it?”
C. “Research has proven that OPOL is the one of the best models for raising bilingual children.”
D. “I’m worried that my children won’t develop as well as others language-wise because we’re not doing OPOL, and many say that OPOL is the best method….”

9. You look at the bookshelves at home in your kids’ rooms and you see:
It’s chock full with French, Swahili, Japanese and Chinese children’s books. In addition, there are video tapes in said languages, CDs and DVDs and various CD-roms on language-learning programs. All neatly sorted according to languages.
B. Lots of toys but no books. Wait – back there’s one German children’s book which grandma sent over for your child’s birthday. Three years ago!
C. A haphazard mess of books and DVDs. Some in English, some German, in no particular order.
D. Some children’s books but even more books for yourself, mainly handbooks and self-help books for multilingual families.

10. Your aim is for your child:
To speak all languages perfectly!
B. For her to be able to at least rudimentary speak the other language so s/he can communicate with her grandparents when they come over for a visit.
C. If she speaks the other language it’s fine, if not, oh well. At least we tried.
D. To speak both languages reasonably well so s/he won’t be a social outcast at school and with peers.

So, how do you think you did?
Click Here to calculate your score and find out the results!


{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dominick January 23, 2012 at 11:44 am

Well, I fell under militant, but its hard to tell how I will eventually be, as my son is only 4 months old. Also, being that I am raising him bilingual in a language that is not my native one, nor is it even a minority language for the community, I fear I will have to be tenacious for him not to reject it. s for # 4, how are you supposed to handle that situation. I know of a woman who is trilingual, but whose children are monolingual because one day they demanded that she “stop spanishing them”, and she did. I do not want this to happen with me and my son. It is my plan to just continue to speak to him in Italian even if he only answers me in English, is there a better way to handle this?


2 Corey January 23, 2012 at 12:18 pm

Thank you for sharing your results, Dominick, and for adding your questions/concerns! Militant is only a problem if it starts to crumble your relationship with your children and/or stress you out. As you said, being that you are raising your son in a non-native language, being militant may be the only way you will be able to stick with it. Just remember to pick your battles – let the little things go and focus on the big picture. That will help you achieve the goals you are after without burning out in the process (which are the biggest obstacles of militant multilingual parents).

You asked about what to do with #4. This question focuses more on how YOU react to the situation than exactly what you will do. Will you be able to stick with it, even if your child never responds back in your language? If you can continue to find ways to always answer “yes” to this, then you are going to make it. On some level, it doesn’t matter what language your child speaks back to you as long as you stick with speaking it with your child. Your child will go through different phases when it comes to your language so just stick with it – be the calm through all storms – and in the end you will be successful. Of course, we all hope that our child will never say that he/she doesn’t want to speak our language so you may never have to deal with this. Just be prepared and you will make it through just fine (because eventually our children WILL want to speak our languages again down the road and WILL thank us for sticking with it! Honestly!).

Please always feel free to bring up such questions, concerns, thoughts in the Multilingual Living Forum (see link at the top of this page) since there are sure to be MANY other parents going through what you are going through (and those who already have)!


3 Audrey Misiano January 23, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Hi, Salut y Hola!
My results came back as a 28…so I’m a moderate parent. I really enjoyed taking the quiz. I was surprised to get such good results. My children are not producing much French yet, but I’m trying to be as consistent as possible…the issue with this, however, is that French is not my first language and my husband is monolingual. Often I’m at a loss for a word…and I’m certain that I’m making mistakes every now and then. I believe, however, that despite my lack of perfection in French, I am providing my children with an opportunity.

When my husband and I decided that we’d give our children this opportunity, I thought I’d just speak to them all the time in French and that would be enough…well I’ve learned a lot since then and know that I have a lot of work to do. I need to put an action plan in place…and I’m thinking more and more that the plan includes having the children help me teach daddy to speak French. My 4-year-old daughter is very good at translating what I say for daddy…but perhaps it’s about time we set aside family time every day for little mini-lessons to help daddy learn. (But really it’d also be for the kids to produce more speech, too) If anyone has any ideas or recommendations for my situation, I’d greatly appreciate it!

Oh and thank you, Multilingual Living, for your amazing work and support! I am so happy to have found you!!!!


4 Annika Bourgogne January 23, 2012 at 10:31 pm

For # 4, I chose the option D, but in our case would have added the following option E: Book a trip to the homecountry asap to have the child again feel the need (and pleasure) to speak the language with monolingual speakers. I realize that this is an easy option for us as France and Finland are relatively close to each other, but similar situations can be created without leaving the country by networking with other families that use the language on a daily basis (look for recently arrived expat families!)


5 Dominick January 23, 2012 at 10:47 pm

Actually, that’s a fantastic idea that I hadn’t considered. In the case this situation ever arises, a trip across the Atlantic would be well worth it (and a good excuse for another vacation) to help my children understand and appreciate the gift of language that I am giving them.


6 Tatjana January 25, 2012 at 1:00 am

I got 30. We’re very committed to raising our kids multilingually, but I’m also a linguist (with many multilingual colleagues) so maybe have a better idea of what’s possible and what isn’t.

As for question 4: I agree travelling to a country where this language is spoken is a great idea. We had this happen with our daughter (now 4, and by my judgement speaking very well, at least at age level, in both English and German) about a year and a half ago. She didn’t so much tell us at a certain point that she wouldn’t speak English (we live in Germany), but while she could understand everything, she always replied in German, even to her father (whose native language is English and who had never spoken German with her). At this point, it became clear that there was just too much German around with full-time day-care, etc. So I switched to also speaking English exclusively at home. We now speak English at home and amongst our family, and the kids speak German with their friends, German family, and teachers. At the same time, my daughter’s English-speaking grandparents came to visit for two weeks, and while she refused to speak to them for a few days, after those two weeks her switch to speaking English at home was complete. She is now even better than me at keeping up speaking English even in mixed situations (when I pick her up at day-care, for example).
Before I start my tirade against one-parent-one-language, I just want to mention here that this is NOT the only method and in my experience not the best one for many families. Most people in the world are multilingual, and often this is not a OPOL situation, but rather a situation where a different language is spoken at home and at school/work/in public. Also, this method is probably more appropriate for many immigrant families – on the playground here in Berlin I have encountered a lot of insecurity about raising kinds bilingually because all (immigrants) parents are often told by pediatricians and teachers that they have to stick to OPOL or else.
I would love to see this addressed on this blog!

Sorry for the long post, but I hope Dominick can get something out of this – you can make your model work, if there is a real incentive for your kid to speak Italian and he gets real use out of it.


7 Dominick January 25, 2012 at 8:03 am

Thank you for the reply Tatjana.

I agree with you that having both parents speak the minority language and letting the child learn the community language from the community is probably a better model if you can do it, however since my wife is monolingual, OPOL is pretty much the only option we have. As luck would have it I did discover that Milwaukee has one of the only Italian Immersion elementary schools in the United States, and I have convinced my wife to let him go there for at least 2 years. At the very least it will give him peers to speak the language with. I plan on volunteering at the school more often and hopefully see if the parents have Italian language playgroups or something of the sort for children too young for school.


8 Tye January 25, 2012 at 6:57 am

I fell under the Moderate Parent – “Natural is Best”. My score was a 27. Which I guess makes since for my family. A non-native Spanish speaker with intermediate working proficiency. I just pass on the language skills I can and hope some of it sticks. Read a few books here and there and keep up with the bilingual blogging community.

One milestone I can say that is good is that although I closed my own blog down, I did start a meetup of Bilingual Spanish speaking families in Atlanta. So, when one door closes another one opens.

It says that the moderate parent has “chosen a model and stuck to it.”. I’m not sure if we’ve chosen a model. But, I have accepted that at this point it is hard to make Spanish a totally “living language” for us, and so we just treat it as a second language using workbooks, etc. The speaking dynamic is just an added bonus on occassion when I can remember.

Anyway, great post.


9 Natasha February 1, 2012 at 12:08 pm

I got “moderate” as well. I am committed to raising my daughter multilingually, but the practical realities make this difficult. We live in an English speaking country, and my native language is Russian, though my dominant language is English, and I have studied many other languages to varying levels of proficiency. My husband only speaks English, but my parents, who live nearby and spend much time with my almost 2 year old daughter, speak Russian and English. I speak Russian to her, but lapse into English when the conversation includes her dad; and I do read and sing to her in both Russian and English. I ask my parents to speak to her in Russian, but they also speak English around and to her sometimes.

I have thought and tried, but the OPOL approach is not something we can make work in our family. I feel it is too much to ask me to completely give up English at home – I like speaking with my husband, and there are some books and songs that I don’t want to be off-limits to me just because they are in English; sometimes we sing or tell stories together, in English. As she gets older we will try some activities with Russian language groups – like music or theater (fortunately things like this are available in our area), to give it more context.

Anyways, I hope that our efforts aren’t doomed because we aren’t willing to go full-on OPOL. I feel some guilt that we aren’t doing enough and no little anxiety about the fact that when she goes to school (and even now, to daycare 3 days per week), the English immersion with peers will cause her to only speak English. I like the idea of sending her to a foreign language immersion elementary, but there are other reasons to send her to the local non-immersion school within walking distance. So I guess, I have to not be militant on the language so that everything else can be balanced somehow.

Sorry about the long post, but I haven’t seen much discussion about the tradeoffs of OPOL for the kids vs the parents being able to understand each other in family conversations. Not to mention balancing the languages with all the other things kids want to do and learn.


10 Brynna August 8, 2013 at 4:59 am

Hi Natasha,

I have favourite English songs from when I was little that I want to be able to sing with my kids as well. My daughter’s only 1.5 at the moment, but I’ve discovered I really enjoy trying to make up Indonesian versions of my old favourites… Indonesian’s not my first language so sometimes I need some help from friends, but it’s a fun way for me to learn a whole lot of new vocab! 🙂


11 Tatiana Asakura February 3, 2012 at 4:38 am

Well, a militant parent is still a loving one, hopefully)))
Without militant rules it is too hard to teach two minor languages, which are far different from the language of the community.
My daughter is 5 now, she had a speach delay, and the rules helpt her to sort out the languages. Now she is being educated in both Japanese and Russian, has friends from both sides, goes with home visits to both countries and sounds there quite natively. I wish that she Is accepted by both communities not as a foreigner, because the expat life makes us change the host countries, and these parent cultures would ancor her and give her the feeling of security and attachment. Balancing the languages bring her the benefits of both cultures. Sometimes the Japanese books are more attractive than the Russian, or Russian festivals are more cheerful than Japanese, and she has both! Add local Dutch feests, and life looks brighter)))

Yesterday she read a phrase in English))… it was not me, it was a car navi system, i keep clenching to my rules.


12 Lyndsey February 3, 2012 at 4:35 pm

I got 25, so was very happy!

I am also very pleased with our balance of 2 languages, Brazilian Portuguese (society language) and English (my native language) since moving to Brazil just before our Son’s 2nd birthday (though he very little contact with Portuguese in England) our journey to Bilingualism has been fairly smooth, now 2 and a half years later, and from speaking only English at home (both Me and my Brazilian husband have stuck to this 99% of the time) and our son having spent a fair amount of time on a daily basis with his Brazilian grandparents (they live next door) He speaks both languages fluently.

He has just (this week) started school here where he will only speak Portuguese, so the real test will be from now, If he starts to get tired of one language, mixing etc……Though I have every confidence that If/when this happens we will overcome it with the ease and relaxation that our son shows everyday in his use of both languages.

I am seriously thinking about a 3rd language for him now (I will be starting french next month for myself) but right now we will continue to do what we have been doing, and concentrate on reading, writing and other subjects in both languages!

Good Luck everyone with your bright and Multilingual futures!!


13 Nayr July 31, 2012 at 3:32 am


I did this quiz in retrospect as my son is now 19 and speaks, and reads and writes, 4 languages fluently. Even though I ended up as moderate parent, which I do believe describes my approach best, I think in reality I moved between all 4 types, depending on the siutation. For example, I was a militant parent as I would always, and only, speak my language, English, to my son, no matter which country I was in, who I was with, or whether my son and I could speak the language of the moment! This raised many an eyebrow in Portugal, as I have Portuguese background and speak the language perfectly.

I was moderate as I allowed (i.e. I had no choice but to ‘allow’) my son to answer in Portuguese because he simply refused to speak English in the first 5 years of his life – so I gave in – we would have perfectly normal English/Portuguese conversations.

I was laid back as we code-switched all the time and it has become part of our communicative strategy – yet we are both quite capable of switching to the monolingual mode when necessary.

And yes, I was anxious, as there were moments when I thought he was never going to ‘straighten ‘ his languages, when I desperately wanted to impose strick limits, but failed.

Perseverance, a natural approach to using languages, surrounding my life with languages (I suppose the fact that I’m a language teacher, also helped somewhat) and never ‘punishing’ my son for the language mistakes he made (I suffered in silence!) paid off in the end.

Good luck to you all on your multilingual journeys.


14 natalia December 20, 2012 at 8:55 am

well I turned out to be “moderate” and I think that’s right… my girl is 6 years old and she speaks fluent french with her dad, spanish with me and portugues at school and on the street… she understands english and answers in english to her little friends but no adult around believes she can speak english too, soo they choose to speak to her in bad portugues and then she gets lost and doesn’t answer…
i had never done anything that was forced or studied, when she was born in france my husband and i decided that she would naturally speak in both languages if we acted natural to her (just being ourselves and speaking in our languages)… so that’s it, she talks to me in spanish and when her dad speaks she turns her head to him and answer in french… and when we have a vocabulary problem (cause we are not perfectly fluent in portugues) she tels us the right world… and she translates for her grandparents when they are visiting from argentina or france… our method is just being natural.
about the writting and reading… i must admit that she doesn’t like to learn but i guess she’ll read sooner or later…
about the english i don’t really know how to make it better, since no english speaker is giving her a chance around… thanks a lot for all the information!


15 Tatiana Asakura December 20, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Rules work!
Less tan a year ago I introduced the third language – Dutch.
Now the kid keeps basic communication in Dutch, reads and writes not only in Japanese and Russian but in Dutch too. Can write Santa to bring her a toy dog or quarrel and play with girls at gym. She tranferred the metacognitive skills to reading and writing in new language, but never mixes elements of different origin, and there was no need to spend lots of time on basic alphabet , she does listening tasks for the kids of school group a year younger than her and writes on the age appropriate level.
She compares and analyzes the difference in cultures and ways of thinking, habits and ways of expressing things.
The only thing she protests is why there are so many ways of writing the very same letters?
Well, soon she has to go to school where will come kanji symbols, and our european and cyrillic capitals and smalls, typing and handwriting will seem a piece of cake to her, in comparison.


16 Lola December 26, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Militant through and through! I am a language educator, and this is my gift to my child! 🙂

My son is 28 mos and speaks Serbian and Spanish fluently. We live in an English-speaking country, and he understands some English (via music, classes, conversation between mother and father, and conversation bet. parents and others.)

His grandfather only speaks Hungarian to him, and we take him to French parent and tot classes 1x/week. I hope he is AT LEAST fluent in three languages (reading, writing, speaking and listening.) His fourth and fifth languages are for exposure, but I’m not going to be militant about #4 and #5 as I am with #1 Spanish (minority language) and #2 Serbian (minority language.) #3 English is the community language, so there’s no doubt he will be successful in that.


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