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The Social Life of an Expat Mum

About a week ago I posted a note in Spanish about my social life as an expat mother. I told on that occasion that since I became a mother my isolation as an expatriate have become more obvious to me. Specially because most of my friends here in Budapest have no kids, therefore, somehow after my daughter born I felt like I have less friends than before. I have been trying to be nice and friendly in the playground and in every other place where children and mums are involved but no luck so far… I haven’t been able to meet a perfect match for “best mum friend”.  

Last week when coming back from the playground with my baby-girl I noticed a paper hanging on one of the windows of the local Cultural Center inviting mothers and babies to come one day a week for an hour of chat in English. I took a picture with my phone and after looking into the details at home I decided to give it a try.  

We have been this very week at the “Mums English Club” (MEC) and it turned out to be a really nice small group with mothers who share interest for foreign languages, some of them have lived abroad or they are language teachers themselves.  The mother who started the group, Mia, is Hungarian but lived in the UK for some years, so her English is very good. Mia and her husband decided to bring up their daughter bilingual (Hungarian-English) even if none of them is an English native speaker.

Some people may feel uncomfortable talking to their children in a foreign language (I’m one of them, I only talk to my daughter in Spanish) but this tendency is getting more and more popular over the world.  It is not a bad idea to expose kids to different languages when they are very young. It have been proved to be a good technique for helping them to pick up a new language in a more natural way than conventional teaching.

To be honest I never though about to bring up my baby in three languages but this experience have made me think about it as a possibility. My husband and I speak in English to each other most of the time so she hear us talking in a third language. My only concern is how to handle my communication with her. The experts say that each family member should talk to the child in only one language. I talk to her in Spanish always and my husband in Hungarian always. So in which language shall I address to her during the time we are in the English Club? Would the occasional talks in English from my side confuse her?

If someone would like to share an experience on this subject or give me any advice regarding bringing up kids in 3 languages, please leave me a comment 🙂 I would appreciate your help. Thanks!

Here you go one of the songs we sing in the Club. This one is probably my favorite so far… although I still have to learn quite a few songs by heart before next Friday. Singing is not my thing, but I’m doing my best!

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11 Responses
  • Sandra
    octubre 28, 2013

    Hola Bea!

    I can share a funny experience, when I was a baby-sitter in Belgium. Parents spoke Dutch with the kids, they spoke English with me. Soon kids started speaking English, so if the parents wanted to keep away something from us, they started talking in French, and very soon the kids replied in French as well. They were only 4 and 3! I agree with the comment with Annade, no matter what, you keep replying in Spanish and your baby will learn to use only this language with you. By the way, you got at least 1 friend with kid with similar age than yours, we just leave far away from each other.

    • madrexilio
      octubre 29, 2013

      Szia Szandra!

      Thank you very much for posting a comment here 🙂
      I will talk to my baby in Spanish only and yes, I guess at some point she will know in which language she should communicate with each of you.

      Thank you for your support, unfortunately we do live far away from each other, plus you are working so it is really hard to meet. Anyway, we should try to visit each other more often.

  • AnnadeVerano
    octubre 28, 2013

    Hola Bea,:)
    I am going to write you in English so that we keep the flow 🙂 I do not have children you know but I have taught quite a lot of them as a language teacher. At the same time living abroad I also had the possibility to experience multicultural environment where children were brought up by bilingual parents and at the age of 3 or 4 children were able to express themselves in 3 sometimes in 4 languages!
    These children started to talk a bit later than their mates of the same age which is a natural phenomenon. (they had to put the bits and pieces in order in all languages they heard – and it took more time :))
    I think the most important thing is to be consequent with your daughter. If you started to talk to her in Spanish, just continue in Spanish no matter she is in the kinder garden hearing Hungarian, at home – hearing your husband in English. If she starts to talk to you once in Hungarian – which is very probable as this language has the most influence her living in the country just answer in Spanish. Probably it will be sometimes hard but it worth the effort. She will learn gradually that to you she speaks in Spanish (however she is also aware of the fact that you understand other languages) but it is also comforting to her and you do not confuse her talking to her in different languages.
    In my opinion the key is in this. Being consequent. 🙂

    • madrexilio
      octubre 29, 2013

      Thank you very much Anna for reading and commenting. I do appreciate your feedback 🙂 I agree with you, being consequent is the clue. We do not have any Hispanic friends with kids here but I’m doing my best taking her to Spanish speaking environments.

  • Jonathan
    octubre 27, 2013

    I really enjoyed reading this post as we’re still trying to work out how we’re going to do things when it comes to bringing up our son multilingually. For the moment, I’m speaking Welsh to him and my wife’s speaking English but we’ll also need to think about our social life and spending more time with other people who are bringing up their kids using Welsh or a combination of Welsh and English. I really hope that we’ll be able to find lots of fun ways to use both languages both at home and outside the home.

    • madrexilio
      octubre 27, 2013

      Thank you very much for stopping by and sharing your insights about bringing up multicultural kids. I guess we all will figure it out but it is much better if we can discuss with other parens who are in similar situation 🙂

      • Jonathan
        octubre 27, 2013

        Absolutely agree about discussing things with parents facing the same issue being really helpful, there are so many common issues that come up with different languages and situations. I’m currently reading a book called Bilingual is Better that is by two Latina mums in the US and I find myself really identifying with a lot of the topics that they discuss.

        • madrexilio
          octubre 27, 2013

          Thank you for the tip I will look for the book. I´m very short of time lately but I´m trying to catch up with your blog right now!
          Read you soon 🙂

  • Kali
    octubre 27, 2013

    Well I don’t have any advice on raising a child with three languages, but I wanted to say I was very encouraged to read this post. I am trying to raise my boys to speak Spanish even though neither I not my husband are native speakers. It always helps to hear of others who are doing the same, like the lady you mention from the group. Can’t wait to read more about your experiences from the MEC! 🙂

    • madrexilio
      octubre 27, 2013

      Thank you very much for posting such a nice comment! I will keep you posted with my experiences from the MEC and I will visit your blog to learn more about your “love for Spanish” 🙂

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