This week's topic on the Expat blog hop on Tales from Windmill Fields is Parenting: Bringing up a multiligual / multicultural family
We are a British/portuguese family, now living in Portugal, one child born in England and one born in Portugal. When we lived in England, we didnt have any plans to move to Portugal and so we decided to focus on the English rather than teach Sophie both languages, at least to start. Having looked into various studies etc, we decided that was our best way forward to help her in her development, especially as she was quite a late speaker, adding another language would just confuse things and as I was the primary caregiver the amount of exposure to Portuguese would be minimal at best. This of course, gave almost everyone, the idea that they could share an opinion as to our choice at the time, and if I got 50p for everytime someone had something to say about it, I would be rich now. After a while the ears close and you nod and smile.
Anyway, things did not stay that way and we ended up moving to Portugal and now Sophie is a mulitlingual child, no problem, so people can stop fussing and worrying. Grace will also be multilingual and is slowly picking up both languages, which is probably a bit confusing as most of the new vocabulary is coming from me at the moment with my husband working away. Im sure she doesnt have a clue what language she is speaking and frequently mixes the languages together, which is nothing unusual in our house with a mix of port-ingles being spoken frequently.
In our house the language is and always will be English, as long as I am around. Its the biggest thing about my culture I can instil in my children as most other cultural aspects will be Portuguese. But I have a worry and that is, I want my children's English both written and spoken to be as good as if they lived there and obviously English is taught here as a foreign language, so how do I get that level of proficiency in them, do I have to do a level of 'home-schooling' in this area or will it just come naturally?
I like the Portuguese culture, if a little 'old fashioned' at times but that's not a bad thing, as they have the best aspects I feel of the 'old fashioned'. They are respectful to each other and elders, polite, helpful and family is centre to all. Children are seen as delights, not 'things' that get in the way and should be seen and not heard. Not a bad culture I think and ideals to instil in your child. Obviously I also want some of my culture and heritage in them, but I have to say I find it difficult to know really how to do this, especially when surrounded by the portuguese culture.
I look forward to seeing how others do it, come and see at Windmill Fields