Summer break report (week 3) – delayed by the heatwave

pastel_de_nata76 Bilingualism, Blog, Family, Life, Portuguese, Travel Leave a Comment



Our third week in Portugal brought with it an infernal heatwave and some of the highest temperatures in Europe on record, which affected our plans for the rest of the holiday… Read on to see how was our third week visiting Portugal.

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We had to say farewell to my sister and her family. They had their own adventure to follow, a road trip in Europe.

The girls were sad and didn’t want to say goodbye – and we had to drag them away from their cousin’s house. Seriously, is it only Portuguese people who have very long, dragged on goodbyes?!

The Portuguese cousins are usually in summer camp activities during the school holidays. This time they were not, mainly so they could spend more time with the Anglo-Portuguese cousins, which was great. It was fantastic to spend time together.

We will definitely miss them and I know that this time together strengthened the children’s relationship. We need to make sure we speak even more often on the phone. Here’s a way to keep that long distance connection.


farewell saying goodbye with flowers

Sophia with her youngest cousin, only 3 months older than her


A road trip to be 

I felt like I was suffocating, hugely oppressed by the heavy heat. I have no idea how the children tolerated it. I can’t stop thinking how this extreme weather is a consequence of climate change – it’s been truly terrifying to see such insane weather. I never thought I would experience anything like this in my lifetime. Our children are only small, I dread to think what they will have to witness and go through during theirs.

Anyway…. The weather was so extreme that no one goes out unless it’s absolutely necessary. Some people who would normally go to the beach during the daytime didn’t go until 7 pm when it was marginally less hot.

On a jollier note, the girls were taken to a local aquarium and a shopping centre with an excellent air conditioner and had copious amounts of ice cream and baths to cool them down.


Stocking up

And, of course, I took the opportunity to stock up on books and other resources, such as the books below and this Map of Portugal Puzzle.


Stocking up on books in nthe minority language: Rosa Meira Engenheira book.

Rosa Meira Engenheira book: we loved this book by Andrea Beaty in English and now also have it in Portuguese


Do you find it difficult to get hold of resources in your minority language? Read my 4 tips to overcome lack of access to resources.


Interesting developments

Sophia’s language is gathering momentum. When she plays in another room, we can hear her making up songs in Portuguese. So adorable!

Amelia is also catching on the act. She can see her sister’s progress, and how happy it makes us, and she’s starting to speak more Portuguese as well. Where she might in the past have said the odd word in Portuguese, she’s now timidly experimenting with building sentences in Portuguese.


And when it backfires…  

It’s funny how empowering your children to be independent mighty girls, to stick together as a team, and to speak other languages can backfire. Amelia is 3 years old and has not shown as much willingness to speak Portuguese as Sophia, now that she’s 5 years old, or even when she was her age. However, she’s been dabbling and on an occasion this week when she was upset with me, Amelia told me ‘nao gostas de ti’ (‘I don’t like you’ in Portuguese, though incorrectly).  She also said a few times ‘Adoro-te’ (‘I adore you’). It’s all good natured and I am incredibly proud regardless of what they say, as long as they can express themselves.



A small note on the power of siblings


“The older sibling influences the second.”


I’ve been banking on factor 4 of this list of factors that determine language preference amongst bilingual siblings which states that “the older sibling influences the second”. The truth is that it’s difficult to compare and predict these outcomes as there are so many factors that can impact on the language each child chooses to speak and their fluency.

Strangely there isn’t much research yet about how siblings affect each other’s choice of language and the whole family dynamic, but a book by independent researcher Suzanne Barron-Hauwaert has come highly recommended on a number of websites and I started reading it over the holiday. The book is called Bilingual Siblings: Language Use in Families (Parents’ and Teachers’ Guides)*, by Suzanne Barron-Hauwaert.

Time alone to read on a summer holiday with small children is elusive but what is very clear so far is that the language learning process with siblings in the family is everything but straightforward. I will write a post about some of my learnings after I finish the book. If you want to buy it yourself you can do so here*



Missed earlier reports and feeling lost? Read the report for week 1 – great hopes and expectations, week 2 – exceeding expectations and my pre-trip blog post – one sleep to the summer holiday.



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