Welcome to Mother Tongue, notes from a bilingual family, a blog about raising bilingual children and confident citizens of the world, from the perspective of a Portuguese mummy living in the UK.
We are a Bilingual Minority Household. That means that English is the dominant language, spoken outside and inside the home. We’re aiming to transition to OPOL. Find out more about us below.
Being the minority speaker, with no minority language support, I’ve found our bilingual journey so far incredibly challenging.
Last summer, my eldest asked me to stop speaking Portuguese. She said she did ‘not like it’.
I was gutted.
So I decided that, if I wanted my children to be fluent in the minority language (spoken and written), and also feel as Portuguese as they feel British, I needed to do much, much more than what I had been doing so far. A lot of what I do and write about is linked to identity and heritage as well as language development.
So, what’s this blog about?
It’s about our journey bringing up bilingual children, with all the challenges that it entails. Here I share our progress, what’s working and not working, high and lows and useful resources.
For example, I love food, coffee, drawing and writing. I don’t find much time to indulge in these but like any parent will know, it’s important to keep our own sense of self.
And I write about causes close to my heart, such as multiculturalism, girl empowerment and social issues.
What to expect
- Short-ish posts, solution oriented, with actionable tips where appropriate
- Weekly posts – even if just to celebrate a small victory, share a thought or a ‘mea culpa’ admission of lack of effort, I seek to post at least once a week, sometimes more
- A personal account. I’m just a mum who’s been learning from reading on the subject, talking to other families and experts, and from doing it.
Every family is different. Each family will have different circumstances and face different challenges. I hope you find this blog useful in your family’s bilingual journey, regardless of your language(s).
I’m Andrea, mum to two little girls, aged 4 and 2 years old. They are smart, funny, kind, and beautiful. They are also very mischievous at the moment…
As you might have gathered by now, I’m Portuguese, married to a Brit and we live in London, UK, with our daughters and Jack Russell dog, Houdini, who is very clever and understands both languages.
I love this sketch by comedian Michael McIntyre: it sums our family life perfectly, and I think most parents can relate to it one way or the other:
Our bilingual family journey
Like any parent, we want our children to be happy. We also want to give them the gift of bilingualism.
When we were expecting baby #1, it sounded like an obvious, and perhaps even easy, privilege. How wrong we were! Yes, it is a privilege, but it is not as easy as we thought.
We’d like our children to be competent in both languages. We wish for them to be bilingual, biliterate and multicultural. We believe it’s the best for them and that they will thank us for it. But it’s not all plain sailing….
I’ve been in the UK for 20 years with no family or a Portuguese speaking network. I love Portugal and my Portuguese identity, but I think, dream and write in English. Read more about our challenges here and here.
I recently came to the realisation that me just ‘being Portuguese’ is not enough. So we decided that if we really wanted to make it happen, we needed to up our game.
I started this blog to document our journey, the highs and lows, the joys and frustrations, what worked for us and what didn’t, in our joint learning as a family.
Then I realised I could, though my blog, help other parents and parents to-be by sharing resources and actionable tips.
We're told raising bilingual children is a marathon. Well, lets start stretching those muscles…