A day in the life of LJ, 3, aspiring quadrilingual

25 Jun 2013

Today, I am giving you a snapshot of our daughter's life with soundbites, photos and quotes to track her language development.

7.30am: We get up, clean, brush, wash and dress up.  

LJ: Aujourd'hui je mets du chaud ou du froid? (shall I wear hot or cold)
P: Chaud. Il fait chaud aujourd'hui. (hot. today it is hot)  
She picks something in the cupboard.  
P: Oh non. C'est trop chaud ├ža. (not this. this is too hot)  
LJ: Mais non regarde, dans ma main c'est froid. (no, look. in my hand it is cold)

We have breakfast as a family although LJ is rarely hungry after her milk. So, she often just plays or draws while sitting at the table. Breakfast is a simple and quick affair where we all eat whatever we fancy. It is also the first trilingual conversation of the day as we are all together.

8:30am: LJ picks whatever snack she wants to take with her to kindergarten and we pack our bags. We are out! On nice days, P cycles to work and I cycle to kindergarten with LJ.

9am: LJ is at kindergarten. During the past hour and a half, she has spent 1 hour with both her parents speaking to her in French and some Portuguese. She has also heard some English exchanged between her parents.

2:30pm: I pick up LJ from kindergarten. There, she has heard and spoken, sung and played in German and French for the past 5 and a half hours. So she is often keen to make me speak German at that point.

LJ: Welches Farbe ist es? (de: what colour is it)  
Me: Violet. (fr: purple)  
LJ: Non! Es ist rot. (fr: no. de: it is red)  
Me: Non, rot c'est rouge. (fr: no, rot is red)  
LJ: Es ist lila.(de: it is purple)  
Me: Ja! (de: yes)
We will usually cycle back home via the shops, the zoo, or one of the many playgrounds on the way. But today, is our bi-monthly English story-time at the library so we rush back home. We eat a light 'gouter' and head out again.

(listen)Hide and seek with bilingual instructions.

4pm: We are at the library. There are lots of other 3-5 year olds. Some are Americans and speak lots of English, others have mixed German-American families. But most speak great German too as they go to Kindergarten. So they sometimes reply to the lady in German. LJ is mostly shy. She answer when asked her name and listens attentively. She clearly understands everything that is happening as she asks me lots of questions about the stories (today's theme was 'grandparents'). But we have yet to hear her speak more than a single word or pre-fabricated sentence in English. Time will come. This is not a worry for us.

5:30pm: After a few stories, songs and a bit of painting, we head home. P is home at the same time today. After a few cuddles and chats about what we have done and seen, LJ requests a bit of screen time as she is exhausted (someone is not napping in the afternoons anymore). She watches a cartoon or plays with the ipad for a short amount of time. Today she played her current favourite: Ernest & Celestine.
(listen)A play with Papa on the iPad.

6:30pm: P prepares dinner while I put laundry out to dry or clean up. LJ plays in her new "cabane" by herself. Play often means practising German at the minute. She likes to interact with us in German too. She is using this safe time at home to practice what she has heard or will use at kindergarten. She is clearly developing an introvert personality.

LJ: Parle en ... comme Daniela. (speak in ... like D. - ie in German)

7pm: (listen)dinner time is, like breakfast, a 3-language affair.
LJ then has a quick bath where she plays in her own language (often a mixture of 2 or 3 languages). After the bath, a story (in French or Portuguese or both), lights are out!

8pm: LJ is in bed, way too tired to even chat to her 'doudou'. Good night!

There you have it. A day in the life. This is how we roll with 4 languages.
Perfectly mundane, splendidly happy, amazingly simple.
I wouldn't change a thing.


  1. Love your day in the life Annabelle- great idea! So nice to see all the languages flowing in and out of your day with ease.

    1. Thank you! Yes, people often think it must be complicated. but it is really not.

  2. Love it!!!! I have no idea what she's saying, but oh my goodness she sounds adorable! ;)

  3. LJ is adorable! And I loved this insight into your life. Also, I had NO idea Karlsruhe had a French-German Kindergarten (although it should be obvious seeing as Strasbourg is so close...)

    1. There are actually a few to choose from as well as one English-German one (attach to the European school).

  4. This is so cool! I love your idea of tracking her language development like this!! Thank you so much for sharing at "Juntemos Jueves." :)

    1. thanks. I like doing it, mostly as a record for me.


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