September's La Tela: multilingualism
Sent on 29 September 2022

As you know, we are a multilingual family. We raise the children bilingual, English and Italian, but my plans haven't always been that way. 

When Oliver was born, I had a beautiful project that, however, collided with reality. I wanted to follow the OPOL method (one person, one language) with a twist: I would speak to the children in Italian and my husband Alex in Finnish; all together we would speak English, which is our family language; and by living in Spain, the kids would absorb Spanish. Perfect plan!

But soon difficulties some practical challenges arose: for example, when Emily was two years old we left Spain and I couldn't keep up with Spanish. Alex hadn't spoken Finnish for 20 years and was struggling to use it daily with the kids, which made the relationship less spontaneous: he soon switched to English when conversations got deeper, and then abandoned Finnish. I made a great effort to always speak Italian with Oliver and Emily (which was a full-time translation job, as I had lived in other languages ​​for years), but in some situations, like at dinner, it was more natural for me to speak English with everyone; and then when we started traveling full-time and English was the language of the world, I started mixing more — especially in public, when I wanted people around us to understand what I was saying to Oliver and Emily.

And so the plan changed, not by choice, but to adapt to our relationship and our daily needs. Little by little, I was reminded that in multilingualism, as in parenting 1. the method adapts to the family, not the other way around and 2. mental flexibility and adaptability are essential.

But above all, our experience has taught me a few things: that raising multilingual children is different than what I imagined; that "true bilinguals" are simply people who speak two languages in their daily life; that, as in parenting, parents' plans are shaped by the children and that the best approach is low expectations and high flexibility: had we followed a rigid plan and not adapted to events and family's feelings, today we would feel as if we had "failed", but instead Oliver and Emily speak two languages ​​that they have learned in a harmonious, spontaneous and respectful way and choose to learn more language (they're currently doing online Spanish classes which they asked for and love!) because we have conveyed our passion for languages.

In today's newsletter you will read 5 general tips; 3 tips about parents' emotions; 6 tips for monolingual families; 1 cobweb thought.

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Usually your newsletters is beautiful, engaging, interesting… This one, however, is super wonderful! 😍 Lots of practical but fundamental tips, such as lowering expectations, bedtime routines tricks, lots of real life stories… thank you for being there, as always! 🧡
Hi Carlotta, your ideas are always precious. For a few weeks now my husband has been following you and a few days ago he signed up for your newsletter, so today we read together your reflection on couple arguments. Being both synched on "La Tela" makes me feel better and balanced, because it's a way of continue growing hand in hand.
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Hi Carlotta, thank you very much for your newsletter! On the day you send it, it's my very favorite time before going to work, you always give great ideas. Hugs!
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