Episode 13: Expat Parenting Language Expectations


30 May 2022

26 mins 56 secs

Season 1

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About this Episode

In this episode, I dive deep into my experience as a first-time expat parent figuring out how to support my children in their acquisition of the community language while I learned it alongside them. Our early years learning Italian were rife with fighting, negotiating, and bribing when it came to learning Italian. I constantly felt like I was failing, and I was failing my kids. But the more those negative feelings crept up, the more I pushed myself and my kids to work harder and do more. In hindsight, it's easy to see that I wasn't failing. I just had the wrong expectations in every aspect of our language lives.

I had expected myself to learn Italian quickly and be able to speak it at home with my children. I expected my very young kids to be excited about learning another language, do language activities as I dictated them, and take command of their own language journeys. I expected immersion alone to make us fluent, and I expected our community to meet us where we were. I thought native speakers around us would all be patient with us as we learned, jump at the chance to help teach us, and adjust their conversational lives to cater to us. Over time, as our language lives became too overwhelming and stressful, I realized that the way I approached my children's language journey (and my own) wasn't sustainable. I was doing more damage than good, and it all came down to my expectations. In this episode, I discuss how changing these expectations was a dramatically positive (and necessary) turning point for our family. My kids are responding to my change of expectations, and they're genuinely excited now to learn German, our new community language. They're making incredible progress in both the language and in school, and the entire mood of our household is lighter and happier. This is the language journey I wish I'd tapped in to years ago when we first set foot in Italy, but it's never too late to analyze and alter one's language or parenting expectations.

Overview of my multilingual parenting journey: http://www.lovejoyandlanguagespodcast.com/episode-2-my-story-part-2
Interview w/another expat parent, Nina Peacock: http://www.lovejoyandlanguagespodcast.com/episode-12-multilingual-parenting-non-native