Moving away from England and settling in another country like Spain has distinct advantages when bringing up your children. I remember way back to when I was in school. Yes I can still remember back that far. Well at least some of it. Anyway when I was in school there was no such thing as language studies until you reached sixth form and then it was French. Take it or leave it. If you wanted to learn another language you had to pass French first then you could choose a third language. I supposed that was because France was the closest country to us. The fact that Spanish is the second largest spoken language in the world made no difference. You had to learn French first and then you could study Spanish if you wanted.
When you move to a European country you suddenly realise how closed minded we Brits are. Most European children grow up naturally with two or more languages depending on where their parents originate from. I can only put this down to Europeans being more liberal and travelling more and eventually settling down in another country other than their native one. Close friends of ours have a five year old daughter who already speaks five languages fluently. This is because the father who is Italian speaks seven languages and the mother who is Spanish also speaks three languages. What a fantastic start in life that little girl has.
As a good part of my professional life has been spent in direct sales, communication is something that has always fascinated me. I made a point of learning Spanish as soon as I arrived in Spain which was a good job as when I met my wife who is German, she couldn’t speak any English and I couldn’t speak any German. We communicated the entire time in Spanish. I can now speak German and she speaks perfect English even though we still talk to each other in Spanish.
So which languages are my twin daughters learning?
Answer: All three.
I’m often asked if they get confused learning three languages at such an early age and the truth is no. You see at this early age our minds are like sponges and will soak up all the information you can give it. What you can’t do is have one person try to teach them all three languages. They have to associate a person or place with a language so, we speak to them in English, Grandma who lives with us only speaks German, The television, school, cousins and every thing outside the house is all in Spanish. Hey presto three languages in one hit.
The immense advantage that my multilingual children will have when choosing a career later on in life over their counterparts who are trapped in a single language barrier is unquestionable and with those three languages they can choose to live and work anywhere in the world.
Imagine what you would be doing now if you had grown up speaking three languages?
More snippets from Alan Hocking can be found at:
"In Between The Tapas And Tantrums" Where Alan offers a lighthearted look at an expats life on the Costa del Sol and shares some of the ups and downs and so often funny side to bringing up his twin daughters.