I am a writer, researcher, multilingual homeschooling mother, former sailing instructor, with a past in environmental science and social innovation. My passions are eclectic and I often wish I could dedicate myself to one thing. I’ve given up trying to focus my blog so I hope to continue to engage you all on a wide range of topics with a common thread of being mostly funny.
I also write for In Culture Parent and, when I feel the need to cut loose, I post over at BluntMoms. I even once wrote a piece for the Fast Company blog. That would be my one and only writing namedrop. I should have more but my past lives are rife with letting opportunities fly by.
I no longer do that so if you want to work with me as a writer, speaker, researcher, or pitch something entirely different, I am open to pawning off my kids and hopping on a plane at a moment’s notice.
What I wrote when I first started this blog back in 2010.
Welcome! About me.. hmmm not sure how much or little to say.
The Basics: I am a franco-american mother of two girls. As of Nov ’10, Pacifique is two and a half; She was born in Brooklyn, New York. My second is called Claude – and yes she is a girl. Claude was born September 1st 2010. She is 13 weeks old today. She was born in Singapore where we relocated this past July so yes I am one of those crazy people who decided to move to other side of planet at 34 weeks pregnant. The father of these two lovely wee ladies is my Mexican Don Juan – Javier.
Why this blog? Why not. Everyone else is doing it right? In all seriousness, I really struggled during the first two years figuring out how to handle the multilingual aspects of bringing up a child. I felt there wasn’t a whole not out there, particularly when you are looking at 3+languages. That said, now that I’ve decided to start this blog, I’ve come across lots of great resources – always the way isn’t it? Since I’ve paid for my url and figured out WordPress, I am forging ahead and hope to share what I’ve found and learned with you here. I am also pretty sure that language is going to continue to be a challenge for me now that we live in a country with four official languages: Malay, Tamil, Mandarin & English and with an unofficial fifth – Singlish. I hope you enjoy this site. Please do feel free to email me with any thoughts, ideas, questions or would like to contribute. warmly, Cordelia (aka Coco)
Bonjour, y buenos dias, Coco!
I just discovered your blog, after recently bumping into Letizia’s wonderful Italian-English blog @ http://bilinguepergioco.com/ . There is a huge need for mutual family support in this area, and especially for families using Spanish & English. I am hoping many families here in California will tune in to your blog.
I saw your post about, “…falling off the OPOL wagon..” : ) I’ll share below a commentary I originally posted on the BpG Blog two days ago. Many of your readers should know that years and years after their initial struggles they will see wonderful benefits from their commitment to gift their children with multiple languages. Buena suerte!
Gracias. Mil gracias.
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We are a family of “gringos bilingues” — norteamericanos who speak both English and Spanish.
I want to comment that your readers should take the long view. Language development is a multi-year process. The hardest part is for the adults to commit to a path and stay with it. If you are committed to providing your children the gift of languages, it will happen.
The first 2-3 years or so can be difficult. After a few weeks with an infant you easily can stay with the language you chose — sometimes having to resist a change back to the majority language when a friend, family member or stranger sends you glaring looks or comments negatively about how you are “confusing” your child (You aren’t!). Then as your child begins to speak — and predictably resists use of the minority language — you should remind yourself of the long view, and keep on with your use of that language. We didn’t insist on our children speaking back to us, but just continued to read, sing, play, and expose them to wonderful experiences in Spanish. As they grew and matured, they both found their own (different) paths to full biliteracy.
Thirty-seven years ago we started this process with our daughters. I provided the “lengua padre” (Spanish, not my first language), and my wife provided the mother tongue (English) along with everyone else in our U.S. world. Now, our daughters are successful professionals, and are raising their own children in the same manner (One-Parent-One-Language), but with the added advantage that our nietos now have Spanish as the sole language from mama, los abuelos & others. Our daughters grew to appreciate not only the Spanish language and literature and culture, but to feel completely at home in their travels and studies, and with peoples of other languages and cultures. Their little ones (2.5 years and newborn), will have an even richer multilingual heritage!
Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. It is so true that one needs to keep the long view, which is definitely difficult to do at times -especially with a tantrum-prone toddler! Thanks for the kind words of encouragement.
Hi, We aren’t like you in the sense that we are one parent one language, but both of us are English. However we made the decision to move to France a little over two years ago. On arrival our children spoke no french. They were fully immersed into french schools on a sink or swim basis. We speak English at home, and french outside of home, and to date have not met any other English families. All the children’s friends are french, which means in the home I speak in French as best as I can when friends are visiting. Therefore i am kind of “climbing onto a second wagon” rather than sliding off the first.
There is no longer any chance that the kids will fail to remember English, though occasionally some parts of their grammar are a little woolly thanks to only listening to me.
What is amazing is how, with no formal teaching from first basics, children soak up a new language and reach amazing proficiency in such a short time. In two years they are all but fluent, and missing only the type of unconcious maternal language education that one soaks up in the home. Noticeably I fail my kids when they bring back french grammar or phrasal homework in a way that I wouldn’t if it was english homework. But i am proud that they are so proficient, and thankful that we stuck our necks out and concious that we have positively broadened their lives even after seeing and feeling their agony in those early months. Being bilingual brings extraordinary benefits and the rewards vastly outweigh the struggle.
Ironically my kids hate me speaking french to them as their accents are vastly superior to mine. Worth a thought!!
LOL I love the fact that your kids don’t want to speak to you because of the accent. In another 15 years, they will find your accent charming and try to imitate it. Our family friends always said to me it was a shame I didn’t have my mother’s cute French accent when she speaks English.
I know that my girls will be correcting my conjugations in no time once they start school. Thanks so much for commenting and sharing your story!
I live in Miami where Spanish is more spoken than English! Je suis francaise et italienne, moi je suis le genre qui dit un mot en francais, continue en espagnol et termine en anglais… J’aime ces mots qui n’existent que dans une langue…. comme “awareness” , comme “serendipity”. Mais les linguistes recommendent: OPOL… Because you keep what you use… My mother tongue was english and I forgot all of it (almost all) once I fail to speak it…
Question: How do you manage “Claude” in spanish? Claoud?
Ah j’adore! Moi aussi je trouve qu’il y a des mots qui sont parfaits dans juste une langue. Deux de mes mots preferes sont “şöyle böyle”, which phonetically sounds like “shirley-burley” (when someone asks you how you are – like say after a heavy night of drinking it means “so-so” I could go either way) and “hyggelig” which phonetically always sounded to me like “huklit” with a french ‘u’ sound for cozy/warm/inviting used to describe homes.
hmmm re Claude – I’ll have to listen to my husband next time he says her name. I think he always calls all of us ‘querida” LOL
Thanks so much for posting!
Hey Multilingual Mama Coco,
we are a german-bolivian couple living in berlin. Our son is growing with spanish and german – which seems almost too easy reading your singapur-stories.
I admit we tried to be OPOL-parents, but it never worked out. So right now, our 3-year-old is living with a spanish speaking father who mingles german words into his spanish, especially when he wants to be ABSOLUTELY understood (you know these special UARGH!-moments, don´t you?) and a german speaking mother when he and I are together, without his father. He attends a german-only “Kindergarten”, so all his friends (although bilingual in english, dutch, french, spanish and some obscure african languages I never heard of before) speak german when playing.
To make spanish learning easier for the little one 9 months ago we scooped to speaking only spanish when all three of us are together. It´s a mess, but – and here comes the really positive part about it – it works out! He understands his spanish perfectly and is beginning to speak more and more spanish words, uo to forming a complete spanisgh sentence, although it was a really easy one. Never mind, we are looking forward to our first visit to Spain next year.
Keep writing, I wish you could read German to read about our experiences in the OPOL-field.
P.S: I hope I could explain myself in English….
Ah MAMA007 you did an amazing job in English! I wish I could write that well in French.
Thanks for sharing your story. I know I’ve written that a lot in comments over the last 24 hours but I really love love love hearing about other people’s experiences. And yes I so know the UARGH moments. I have way too many of them and English definitely creeps in at those times. I’ll keep writing if you keep reading ;-) tee hee. Also if you ever want to do a guest post, just email me at the contact page address. good luck!
Hello, I just found your blog and find it very interesting. We raise our two kids with Chinese and English. From day one my son was born, I spoke Chinese to him, and my husband used English, not by choice, he did not know much Chinese. So my son was exposed to both languages since birth. However, at age two, the age most kids are talking, he did not utter a word yet. So we started an intervention program. The therapist suggested that I switch off the Chinese and speak English to him, which I did. He started talking soon after. Sometimes i get really curious whether it’s the age or the monolingual environment that triggered the speaking. I guess I’ll never find out.
My daughter does not have that problem though. Both my kids speak Chinese, but because of the “intervention” with my son, I took a break from speaking Chinese with him, it was much later I started that up again, he has a much heavier accent speaking Chinese, while my daughter doesn’t.
We live in Shanghai now, both of them are making big progress with Chinese, but it’s interesting to hear Chinese friends commenting on their accents!
I like to say something about the effect of the “intervention”. The break I took from speaking Chinese made me realize how easy it is to speak one language in the family – all English. That’s what we do a lot since then, and it’s very hard to get into a habit of speaking the so-called minority language, in our case Chinese. They like to switch to English. It’s a constant struggle!
By the way, my kids are 10 and 4.5 years old.
Thank you for sharing your story. It’s really tough. My brother went through the same thing and dropped French with his son but then my first daughter was incredibly late to speak – and again for a time I suspected the languages but I then found out that my cousin (who only speaks french) started talking between 2 and 3 so I am starting to think late talkers just run in our family.
When faced with children who struggle to communicate, especially at a time where developmentally they are finding their own identity, is incredibly difficult.
The great thing is that he does speak Chinese and as long as you continue as well and make the culture and hence language relevant, there is no reason they won’t continue to and at some point they will likely really appreciate that they can speak it.
Good luck and don’t give up!
I like your blog.
Children understand each other first.Language comes next.
God Almighty invented; we just discover.
Please go on writing such thought provoking articles.Best wishes.
I am also a fan of your blog! As a bilingual mama of a son born in June 2010 I find your posts very interesting. Funny is, we also considered moving to Singapore for the last 2 years… At the end we didn’t but that’s ok.
I am nominating your blog to the Liebster Award, I hope you like it! Do come by my “place”, would love to see you around. :-)
Thanks! I am working on my responses. Oh and I so wish I could speak Portuguese…
I am looking forward to reading all about you!
I finally got there! phew…
I know… it takes quite some effort. But I am looking forward to reading Our questions and answers! Thank you for participating! I use the chance to wish you a merry X-MAS :-)
Hi Cordelia, I just nominated your blog for the Sunshine Blogger Award! I’m so glad I found you and your blog!
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HI there, I nominated your blog for a Liebster Award as I find it really interesting and helpful. Congrats! Go here to find out what the award requires of you. http://languagelens.wordpress.com/2013/06/19/liebster-award-discover-new-blogs/
Wow, thank you! I am extremely flattered and excited to discover your blog as a result. I am going to participate though with 7 days before I take my first ever solo trip with two wee ones, I may have to do this when I get back. I will though and again thank you so much!
You´re welcome! Have a great trip!