Living in a Multilingual Family

I am living in a multilingual family in Ecuador. The official language of Ecuador is Spanish, but ten native languages are spoken here as well. In our family, we speak three different languages, Finnish, Spanish and English. When I came here I could speak Spanish only a little, but I have learned a lot while living here. I could have learned Spanish actually more, but I never study, a thing I´m a bit ashamed to admit.

Raising a multilingual child isn’t always easy, but when you succeed it´s definitely going to benefit the child. The benefits go beyond speaking, multilingual children are for example better at multi-tasking  and they are less easily distracted than the monolingual children.  It´s important that the parents always speak the same language for the child so he or she wont be confused and this language should be their native language. To learn a language a child needs to hear the language regularly, so if your language is the minority, you have to do extra effort.

My native language is Finnish and I want to teach that to my daughter too, so I´m speaking Finnish for her. My husband´s native language is Spanish, so he and all his family speaks Spanish for her. My Spanish isn’t really strong so with my husband I prefer to speak English, but with other people I speak Spanish because English isn’t much spoken here. I´m hoping my daughter will learn to speak at least Finnish and Spanish fluently, and I actually believe it´s possible. Both me and my husband speak good English, but it´s not our native language, so I don’t know how well our daughter can learn that from us.

At the moment Finnish is the language our daughter hears most. My husband is working far away and I stay a lot alone with our baby. I try to speak as much as possible for the baby. I feel a bit weird talking to her in Finnish if there´s other people in the room, because no one understands me. We also listen a lot of Finnish music from the YouTube and I try to sing a lot for the baby as I believe learning lyrics from the songs will make it easier for her to learn Finnish.


at Quito

Here is my daughters favorite music video, Mauno Mato by Rölli from YouTube (This song already existed when I was a child). With this kind of videos I´m trying to teach my daughter to speak Finnish, even we are far away from Finland.

If you are interested in reading from other multilingual families I just found this great blog, Trilingual Mama, she´s made a blog list from other multilingual families too. Other website I find useful is Multilingual Children´s Association.

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