Raising polyglot children?

Hello! I am starting this topic in English. I can communicate in German and Arabic for those who don’t speak English well.

I am curious to learn more about how you are raising a polyglot child. What are your learning/teaching methods used?

I have two. And I began teaching my eldest 3 languages simultaneously since she was 18 months. Today, my child (8 years old) is fluent in German, English and Arabic. I began with scheduling her languages every week, such that Monday would be German day, Tuesday Arabic day and so on.

I believe structure and consistency are at the heart of language learning. What are your thoughts? Have you tried teaching your children the languages you know? If yes, how?



Hi there Zeina,
you can find following some links to presentations from Tetsu Yung that took place in past Polyglot conferences, talking exactly on your question. Enjoy:)
Polyglot Conference 2017 in Reykjavik

Polyglot Conference 2019 in Fukuoka

I never had the opportunity to raise a polyglot child. I did put my son in the Japanese immersion school from kindergarten through 5th grade. He didn’t do well, because I couldn’t, at the time, support his Nihongo well. If I were to try and raise a child in a multi-lingual fashion, I might consider having certain activities done in specific languages. Or that there are specific days that you speak specific languages.
This is such a great topic.


@Simos Thank you so much for your kind gesture! I will make sure to take a look at those. :blush:



You are welcome,You can also check this lecture, it says a lot about how the young brain works learning languages! And the speaker is for sure amusing to watch:)
Polyglot Conference Thessaloniki 2016


@PinAngel Thank you for your reply!

I am always inspired by parents who try to teach their children more languages than their native one. You have done a great thing by attempting that yourself. I am sure your son did pick up a thing or two in Japanese.

With my littlest child, it was different. I found teaching her other languages was an impossible mission when she was younger. She began picking up a second language when she turned 4.

What I mean to say is that every child is gifted in one area or another. If at one point, he/she does not pick up a language, take some time off. Try a year later or a month later or whatever works for you. Every child learns at a different pace and in a different way.

I believe we need to try multiple ways to figure out what works best for them. One thing I found helpful is Art. Teaching a child simple words that he/she can associate with an apple they are drawing or a house they are coloring etc. helped my youngest, who turned out to be a hands-on learner.



My parents did the same too! Except that they sent me overseas to study so that I can learn English. I had no choice but to really learn and study English at a very fast pace back then or else I will not be able to live and attend school in a foreign country on my own. I guess that really helped me to attain a C1 in English in just 3 years. Since then, I have been constantly studying English and after achieving a C2 in English, I am currently still reading up and staying in touch with English almost everyday to maintain my English fluency. So I guess putting your children in a foreign language environment really helps!


This is a topic on my mind a lot these days! I have a 1 and 3 year old, both of whom seem very interested in languages which makes me very happy. But we’re essentially a monolingual household - none of my family or partner speak any other languages, so it’s hard to get the exposure they need to really grow up bilingual. I try to give them as many opportunities as I can to hear other languages, especially Spanish, but it’s hard. Now that their school is closed and it’s harder to go out and experience things, they aren’t getting the same level of it that they used to.

I’m trying not to beat myself up too much about it. they’re still bright, curious kids and if they’ve got the language bug like me it’ll come out in time. Still I wish there were better opportunities!

I guess if there’s anybody that reads this in a similar situation with kids close to this age reach out to me! If you want your kids to have exposure to English and especially if you speak Spanish, Portuguese or maybe French maybe we could work together.


Hopefully in a few years! :smiley:

There are always options to expose them to languages, so even if they might not be raised multilingual, they can learn a great deal with music, books, movies, etc.
I wish you great success with all that!


Hi @Zeina-AR-DE-FR-EN,
Thank you for starting this thread! And thanks @Simos for putting up the relevant talks I gave at past events!

I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to teach your kids languages. Many variables come into play, including most importantly, your kids’ personality. Other than that, some methods may be more labor-intensive, some may be more cost-intensive, etc. And finally, parents want their kids to speak languages for different reasons, and have different resources, so as such, should expect different levels of outcomes.

Anyway, I’m glad to see many people have interests in this very important topic! Hope you will all check out my presentation this year!


Tetsu Yung


Hi @Hank

Have you tried signing up for abcmouse.com? I have had it for my kids for years now - since they were 12 months old. It’s a virtual platform for children to learn their grade level through games and fun activities and here is the best part… it offers the whole program in Spanish or you can select to have Spanish given as a second language.

Let me know what you think :blush:



This is so true. These days anything is possible. Yet it is still an arduous task to make the whole multilingual upbringing successful. It’s literally a full time daily job especially if the kids attend and English- speaking school. They spend at least 6-8hours in an English-focused environment, which does not help at all with exposing them to other languages prolongedly.

Wishing you the best and good luck to you as well!


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Hello @Tetsu,

Thank you for your input and excellent presentations. I agree that the language-learning process is not a one-fits-all matter.

However, I would like to share my personal experience, growing up in my homecountry, where schools teach 3 languages simultaneously from preschool up till university.

All Lebanese children are born into a trilingual world in Lebanon. Parents commonly being trilingually educated raise their children as such, too. Schools subject the kids to English, Arabic and French equally and simultaneously, and although the one-fits-all idea might be frowned upon, considering it’s inflexible, this is exactly what has been working in the Lebanese school system for years.

I believe this method has been working simply because kids, as I mentioned before, are given a particular structure that they practice consistently. My academic experience in Lebanon inspired me to expose my children from very early ages to the 4 languages I know.

Structure and consistency are the bedrock of language learning and form an incredible foundation. But here is the thing, those two without complete immersion won’t work.

One method I found helpful to utterly immerse the child in the language learned, is using alphabetic fridge magnets or colorful sticky notes to stick to household items. That way, the child will always have a visual reminder of what something in the foreign language means that you can routinely read out to them.

Sorry for my long posts!! I have so much passion for this topic and hope to help as much as I can :blush:



Wauw @Zeina-AR-DE-FR-EN that sounds great.
I am wondering what we are doing wrong here. My daughters teacher just told me that the 5 hours of Dutch every day many kids get at our Dutch school is simply not enough to really teach them the language well. Offcourse by the end of the 8 years of primary school they can speak and write Dutch but many didn’t reach there full potential in class because they understood less of the gab in vocab skills ect.

Thank you for your post btw, it gave me some new ideas and inspiration about teaching my kids languages :). They get an English an hour a week at school, so that doesn’t help at all. And they need at least English as most University’s teach in English here.


Nous élevons notre fille bilingue en néerlandais et en allemand. Nous vivons dans le sud des Pays-Bas. Ma femme, à l’école, ses pairs parlent néerlandais et je parle allemand avec elle. Ses progrès dans les deux langues à l’âge de 7 ans sont très bien, bien que son néerlandais soit mieux développé pour le moment. Mais cela me semble tout à fait naturel car sa langue d’instruction est le néerlandais. Elle commence à me répondre en allemand maintenant. Cela a pris un certain temps parce qu’elle savait que je peux comprendre néerlandais très bien. À l’âge de 5 ans, ils ont commencé à apprendre l’anglais à l’école. En outre, elle commence à apprendre la langue régionale “Limburgs” au centre de soins après l’école et de pairs.

Ons lig ons dogter tweetalig in Nederlands en Duits. Ons woon in die suide van Nederland. My vrou, op skool, maats praat Nederlands en ek praat Duits met haar. Haar vordering in albei tale op die ouderdom van 7 is goed, hoewel haar Nederlands op die oomblik beter ontwikkel is. Maar dit lyk vir my baie natuurlik as haar onderrigtaal is Nederlands. Sy begin nou op my antwoord in Duits. Dit het 'n rukkie geneem omdat sy geweet het dat ek Nederlands baie goed kan verstaan. Op 5-jarige ouderdom het hulle Engels op skool begin leer. Verder begin sy die streektaal Limburgs by die naskoolsorgsentrum en van eweknieë leer.


Hi @Tetsu ! I love to compete in the quiz! Thank you for your support and kindness!


Good to hear that this is working for your family. I understand it’s the recommendation for bilingual families. But i know many families whom find it hard to keep doing this.

Wat leuk dat men daar ook nog Limburgs spreekt. Mijn dochters komen helemaal niet in contact met de streektaal hier. Ik laat mijn schoonouders het soms voorlezen, maar die worden daar soms moe van :stuck_out_tongue:

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Limburgs est parlé par la majorité des habitants. Il est tout à fait naturel que les enfants obtiennent un certain degré d’immersion, même si les parents ne le parlent pas à la maison. Quelle langue ou dialecte régional est parlé dans votre région?

Limburgs is gesproke deur die meerderheid van die plaaslike inwoners. Dit is baie natuurlik dat die kinders kry 'n mate van onderdompeling, selfs als die ouers dit nie praat nie by die huis. Watter streektaal of dialek word in jou streek gepraat?



Don’t beat yourself up over this. In the end, we do what we can, and as parents, I know how much effort each and everyone of us puts into their children’s education. If our kids don’t learn a second language while they are young, they can always do so when they are adults.

I am not sure how your school systems work. I can speak for the Lebanese because I was raised there for some time. Maybe you will be able to determine what can be done differently based on our school system. One thing I know is that Lebanese schools are incredibly tough.

But let’s just talk about the languages for the sake of this thread. Our language classes were given 100% in that language since day 1. Children also study other materials, like social sciences, math, physics, and biology in either English or French. Not only does that help by exposing kids around the clock to the languages but it also pushes them to actively engage in their languages, by answering questions, completing homework, taking tests, etc in a foreign language.

We were lined up for prayer in the morning for example, which we did in all 3 languages. The country in general runs on 3 languages. You walk in Beirut and you can easily spot the language diversity.

People normally would great you with: “Hi, keefak, ca va?” Keefak means how are you in Arabic. And btw this is something we call code switching in linguistics where multiple languages are used to express one thought.

Also Lebanese kids finish school and are overloaded with homework. I remember having to study for another 4-5 hours after finishing school. So it’s pretty intense and compared to the US, I think kids finish school in Lebanon better equipped for their university studies than here.

Again there is no right or wrong way to teach a child a second language. I tried a lot of ways and stuck to what worked. Even now, I don’t sit down with my kiddos every day all day to teach them their languages. I do that often but I also immerse them in whatever they are learning by playing familiar kid songs in German or watching a movie in Arabic. I always have German or arabic podcasts playing in the house.

By the way, check out the app radio garden. You can listen to radio stations around the world in real time - really cool!



Bonjour monsieur @Ron!

Enchanté! Merci pour votre réponse ici et bienvenue dans notre discussion. Je ne parle pas beaucoup la langue française mais je la pratique toujours. J’espère qu’un jour je deviendrai meilleur dans cette langue.

Alors s’il vous plaît excusez mes erreurs. :blush:

J’ai lu ce que vous avez écrit et je pense que vos méthodes académiques sont très efficaces. Je connais beaucoup de familles trilingues qui font exactement ce que vous faites avec votre enfant. Et cette méthode est vraiment géniale et meilleure à utiliser car elle crée une routine linguistique stable à la maison et parmi les membres de la famille eux-mêmes.


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