Multilingualism in my family: Peggy's story

25 Apr 2017

This month's instalment of multilingualism in my family introduces Peggy and her multilingual family. She is raising4 children in Sweden with English, Swedish, German and French and she runs her own business. You could say she is Super Mama!


1. Name

Peggy (from Paul et Paula)

2. In what country do you currently live?


3. How many children have you got and how old are they?

4 children: 18 months, 4 and a half, 7 and soon 10.

4. Who speaks what to whom (in the home)?

Mum speaks German to the kids. 
Mum & Dad speak French together.
Kids speak French or German to each other but like to actually speak English much more :)

5. What language do your children hear outside home?

English & Swedish

6. If you had to put a percentage on the languages your child(ren) hear what would they be?

50 % Eng 25% German 15% French 10% Swedish

7. Did you set out to follow a particular method to raise your child(ren) multilingually? Why? Why not?

As a family we do OPOL - one person {parent} one language. It works for us and we feel it is good for everyone, including ourselves, to stick to one language. Our mother language.


8. What works with your current family language set up? Why?

It is very clear who speaks which language. I can actually speak all of our languages but strictly only use German with the children - otherwise I am afraid I would just mix and get lazy. And the kids follow. 

9. What doesn’t work? Why?

They love to speak English. School language and they speak English with nearly all their friends. It is natural. They often switch to speaking English when they talk to each other and it is hard to break it up...

10. Can you share with us one of your proudest moments as the parent of a multilingual child? 

Singing Happy Birthday in 7 different languages for a friend. 

11. Have you encountered any kind of resistance or difficulties in your multilingualism journey? If yes, what were they and how did you solve them? 

Not really, no. People usually tell us how lucky our kids are and how cool it is that they master all these languages. People are curious and like our lifestyle. We never had any negative comments or questioning. 

12. What would be your one piece of advice to a parent embarking on this life-long journey?

It is the best gift you can give to your child. Just do it!


13. What would you do differently if you could or would have to do it again?

Good question. There is nothing really. I am not the kind of person who regrets things because I believe that we all do the best we can. When our first child was born it was natural to go for OPOL. My husband does not speak German and English {we lived in London at that time} we both speak fluently however it is not our mother tongue. And of course we want our children to be able to communicate with their grand parents and family in our home countries. They all grew up with this ‘set up’ from the very beginning. It is just a normal thing to them...

Read about other families here.
Are you a multilingual family? Would you like to share your story? Contact me.

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