Day 130: Raising a Bilingual Baby

My wife is Swedish and I am American.  So, our baby is a dual citizen of both countries, and will be raised in Sweden (once we are back from Hong Kong).  This means he will need to speak fluent Swedish and English.  What’s our plan?

We decided early on that my wife would speak Swedish with the little guy, and I would speak English.  In this way, he would be exposed to both languages.  It only works if you always do this – so my wife should not go into English with him, and I should not try to speak Swedish with him (although it does help me learn Swedish to do this).  At the moment, since I am spending more time with the little guy and all our friends in Hong Kong speak English, he is exposed to way more English than Swedish.  When we are in Sweden, it is more balanced, because his grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins all speak Swedish.

It is important that he retains the connection to the Swedish language, so when we are in Hong Kong, I have started to play Swedish Radio for him, so he can be exposed at the very least to the language of the dj’s and even some Swedish music.  This is no replacement to hearing Swedish from my wife, but there are days when she sees him very little, so we are doing our best with the situation.

Apparently the research shows that when kids are exposed to two languages, they can pick up other languages easier later on, even if they might be a little slower in developing their language skills at first.  So, all we can do is stick with this plan, and keep exposing him as evenly as we can to both the different languages we speak natively.  Of course the most important language for him to learn is the universal language of love, which we can show him no-matter-what language we speak 😉


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