Trilingual Baby

Bringing up a trilingual baby.

It happened a couple of weeks ago, I was washing dishes and Hubbs was at the table. My Munchkin tab to me and said “Mama, mas.” (mom, more) So I said “anda pídele a papa” (go ask Dad). He went to his dad and said “papa encore.” (dad, more) I couldn’t believe my ears. I mean, I was pretty sure he knew to distinguish between the two languages, but I had never heard him code-switch like that, back to back.i I had read about it, but I hadn’t seen it. I have to say, it’s pretty spectacular—that moment when you realize your kid is getting it! Right now, we are raising Enzo in Spanish and French mostly, but since he has started a toddler program and a sports class, he is being exposed to some English… So he is also learning some English as well.

Raising your child to be multilingual is no easy feat. Just like raising bilingual children, it takes tremendous dedication.  I am already anticipating the inevitable day that will one day come, when Enzo decides to rebel and he will want to speak English to us because, 1. He will realize we speak English 2. His friends all speak English and he will want to be like his friends.  

Until that day comes, I will not fret! I will just keep working at helping him love and learn all the languages around him!

We have to make kids want to keep at it, so let’s make it fun! Here are some tips: 

  • Sing silly songs, play games, use every opportunity to introduce new words: I like saying “Mama says THIS, but PAPA says it like this.”

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Sung to the tune of Freres Jacques

Credit: Pinterest (teacherspayteachers.com)

  • Many DVDs have other language options (I just discovered that my Mickey Mouse Clubhouse can be seen in French!)
  • You can also check out Youtube… I have found Sesame Street, Mickey Mouse, Dora, all in French and Spanish… my favorite one by far is the potty-training video “Elmo Va Al Baño”
  • HIre a fun babysitter that speaks the language you want to reinforce
  • Have playdates in other languages
  • Check out websites that offer tips, support and activities such as Spanglishbaby! Check out their Pinterest boards where I found this: image
  • If you can afford it, spend some time in a country where you child can be immersed in the language
  • If you have friends/family that live abroad, ask them to send you some books or toys in other languages.
  • Check out your discount/99cent stores…Sometimes you can find great stuff in other languages! i found this Cookie Monster set in Spanish at Jacks 99cent world on 34th Street in NYC (note: it was not 99Cents!) image

  • Books in Spanish are a mouse click away! Check out books on Amazon.com or check out a Target near you— look what I found there:
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    As always, I welcome your tips, comments and advice below, or on Facebook or Twitter @dianalimongi

Diana Limongi
welcome! I'm a Latina working mom from Astoria, NY, mom to a trilingual four-year old. I blog about motherhood, Latino issues, women's issues, work/life balance, food, parenting and raising my multilingual and multicultural son!

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