The day I decided to tattoo my hand… to remind me to speak my mother tongue

pastel_de_nata76 Bilingualism, Blog, Portuguese, Resources Leave a Comment

I never had a problem with tattoos. Some are truly beautiful and meaningful. It’s just too permanent for me. I feel like I’m in constant evolution and didn’t want to be tied down to one single embellishment on my skin forever. Until one day, frustrated with my ability to remember to speak the target language, and being acutely aware of how essential that was for my children’s bilingual upbringing, I truly thought of tattooing a reminder in my hand. This is the story of the day I decided to tattoo a reminder on my hand. But didn’t.

Beyond post-it notes

I’ve always struggled to remember to speak the target language to my children. It may sound silly but it’s harder than you think. I started using mobile phone alerts and post-it notes to remind me, but after a while they didn’t work anymore. With so much going on I become blind to all these aide-mémoire.


start a bilingual journey - post it note with 'Fala Portugues!' written on it with a sunshine in the top right corner


I was so frustrated that the thought of tattooing a reminder to speak my mother tongue, Portuguese, in my hand – the part of my body I look at most often throughout the day – settled in.

I started thinking… how could I do it without it being ugly, how can I do it in a way I can see and it fulfills its intended purpose, but that one day I can hide it if I want to? What image can I use that is only intelligible to me?

Seriously crazy stuff. People get tattoos for many reasons. Having a functional reminder to do something like speaking your own mother tongue is not one of them. As far as I know, anyway.

Inspirational Posters

This is when I thought… inspirational posters!

So I created A4 printable posters to put around the house and inspire me to keep going. It includes quotes from experts, calls for action, even demands and other short sentences that I know will spark action and keep the issue front of mind throughout the day.



I put them strategically on the fridge and on the front door (inside the house – come on, I’m not that crazy!) which I see when I go downstairs first thing in the morning. And you know what? It works! I certainly find them more effective than post-it notes. I have enough variety to change them around and to put each message where I know it will work best. I really like the Mother Tongue heart on it. From a distance, it warms my heart and it’s a shortcut to the mind.

Get your FREE posters

I’m delighted to share these with you. If you need daily inspiration in your bilingual journey, no matter your children’s age and ability, try these posters. They are generic enough, just to remind you “hey, don’t forget your bilingual commitments”. They have nice colours that will not clash with most things. I also took care to make it non ink heavy so that if you print it at home, it doesn’t wipe out all your ink cartridge!


10 free motivational posters



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