Multilingual Living Newsletter – December 1

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Multilingual Living
December 1, 2011
Dear Multilingual Living Friends,
The winter holiday season is upon us! Can you believe it? Sparkling lights, the smell of pine needles, candles and mistletoe. If we were still living in Germany, I’d be warming my hands on a mug of Glühwein at the Weihnachtsmarkt and eating roasted chestnuts. Instead, we make our own at home, sit in front of the fireplace and pretend we are in Germany.

For most multilingual-multicultural families, this time of year brings a mixture of traditions, activities and foods. A little of this, a little of that all patched together. When my first child was born, it quickly became apparent that mixing American and German traditions was not going to be as simple as we had assumed it would be. Is Christmas dinner on the evening of the 24th or the 25th? Does Santa fill stockings in the middle of the night or does the Weihnachtsmann bring them in during the day and set them under the tree? And when it came to the tree, would it be put up early in the month or a few days before Christmas?I don’t remember any arguing but there were a number of heated negotiations and silent moments of frustration. In the end, we somehow worked it all out:

  • The day after Thanksgiving we cut our Christmas tree from a u-cut farm.
  • The weekend after Thanksgiving we decorate the tree and the whole house.
  • We have real candles and electric lights on our Christmas tree.
  • Nikolaus comes on the 6th and fills boots with sweets.
  • We make an advent wreath and light one additional candle each Sunday.
  • The Advent calendar is opened each day until Christmas.
  • We have a traditional German dinner on the 24th (made by my husband).
  • Presents from family are opened after dinner (opened slowly one by one).
  • Der Weihnachtsmann leaves presents in stockings in the middle of the night.
  • Irish holiday music fills the house all day long (mutual link with Ireland).

This is just a list of the big choices. There have been so many smaller ones, it would be impossible to count them all. But we figured it all out along the way and I think we’ve found a nice balance. Luckily for us, family and friends accept our mix of traditions for what it is and some even enjoy the little (and big) differences.

NEVER Say That!

What fun we had this week with the responses around cyberspace to the post Top 10 Things You Should Never Say to Your Bilingual Child! Many of us (myself included) have said some of the things on the list. It is hard not to bribe or blame and even harder not to share our frustration with our children.

Even though we may never have said the exact sentences in the post, we may have said something similar to our children or to someone else in their presence. The key is not to say nothing. The answer is to approach our children with love, honesty and the level of discussion that they can handle and understand. Best is to talk things out with a spouse or a good friend first. What we often forget is that without saying a word, our children are often picking up on our feelings and thoughts.

May your holiday preparations be filled with joy, comfort and peace. Happy Holidays to everyone around the world!

Many Multilingual Holiday Wishes,

Corey Heller
Founder, Multilingual Living

Bilingual Siblings: Whose Language Wins?

As parents, we often hope that our children will choose to speak the minority language with one another. If we are creating a minority language household, wouldn’t it make most sense?

Unfortunately, this may not end up happening. What influences this choice? What role does the older sibling play in the language spoken between siblings? Find out in our latest Bilingual Siblings: Language Use in Families excerpt:

Where Will Our Children Feel at Home?

Parents raising children in a country not their own may wonder where their children’s identity will ultimately reside. Or will it find any home at all? Find out what what one study’s findings reveal in our latest post from Bettina Ribes-Gil: 

 A Third Language in the Classroom?

Finding ways to make a second language work in our classrooms is one thing but what about a third language? Read tips and suggestions in a delighteful post from a Dutch teacher training student:

NEVER Say This to Your Bilingual Child!

Whether you say these exact sentences or other things that are similar, you’ll want to read this list and find out where you stand:


Latest Forum Discussions…

Here are just a few of the latest discussions taking place on the Multilingual Living Forum:

Happy Birthday!

Today is my birthday! Yippee!I can’t believe that I am already 43 years old!

Multilingual Living friends share how they say “happy birthday” in their languages from around the world. Share your own here:

While there, please make sure to click on the LIKE button to let us know that you like what is going on at the Multilingual Living Facebook page!


Out Goes the Minority Language!

It is amazing how quickly the majority language can take over the minority language! With what appears to be lightening speed, our children switch from one language to another! Find out more about this in this excerpt from Bilingual Siblings: Language Use in Families:


Latest Comments and Conversations…

Here are some of the latest comments that have appeared on the Multilingual Living website:


Marie’s Lego Instructions: German & English

My daughter Marie decided that she wanted to do her own Lego instructional video (she loves watching them on The difference is that she wanted to do hers in both languages: German & English.

You can see both videos on the Multilingual Living home page (CLICK HERE).


What’s The Cost of Monolingualism?

If you don’t decide to speak your language with your children, you just might end up with a hefty price tag to pay! How much? How about $254,000! Read more about this great post from Language on the Move on our Facebook page:


Speech Therapist Says: Go Monolingual!

I got an email from a concerned parent who was told by her child’s speech therapist to switch to one language because of her son’s developmental delays. So frustrating! I shared the post My Speech-Language Therapist Wants Me to Switch to One Language on the Multilingual Living Facebook page and 21 people responded! You can read all of the responses at the following link:

We’d love to have you as part of the Multilingual Living Facebook family – just click on the LIKE button and you will be set!

PLEASE Support Us!

Want to read articles from the top experts in the field of bilingualism while supporting Multilingual Living? Then get your hands on the back issues of Multilingual Living Magazine! You will find more than answers in these amazing issues!

Here are just a few of the experts wrote for Multilingual Living Magazine: Colin Baker, François Grosjean, Jean-Marc Dewaele, Fred Genesee, Madalena Cruz-Ferreira, Jasone Cenoz, Aneta Pavlenko, Suzanne Barron-Hauwaert, Xiao-lei Wang, Barbara Zurer, Tracey Tokuhama-Espinosa, and many, many more!

Come find us where we hang out:


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