Jun 192013

“I wish my Mum had taught her language to me”

I don’t know how many times I have heard comments along those lines – someone regretting that one of their parents didn’t pass on their language. I have never heard the opposite though, anyone regretting that they learnt a language when they were small.

This speaks volumes about how important knowing your family’s languages is to you. I have heard a young girl speaking about how excited she was about meeting her grandparents for the first time in her mother’s home country, and how frustrated she was about not being able to bond with them due to the language barrier. I have spoken to a grandmother who feels that she can never get really close to her growing grandchildren, as they do not have a common language.

I have experienced this situation first hand myself, as my younger daughter Daniela learnt Swedish and Punjabi, but not Finnish which is the main language of her maternal grandmother’s family. I remember having to translate between her and her great grandmother during visits. Daniela has also said that she sometimes felt a bit left out as she couldn’t follow all the discussions in the family. If I could, I would go back and do things differently to make sure she also gained the knowledge of Finnish when she was small. I am so happy that she has now taken up Finnish lessons at university and is making good progress.

If you are a bilingual yourself, you don’t always realise what it feels like not to understand what people are saying around you. With the benefit of the languages I know at least a little of, I very rarely end up in a situation where I can’t communicate at all with people around me. When it does, it is always a bit of a shock to the system. Last time it happened was during our honeymoon in Hungary. The Finnish and Hungarian languages are remotely related, but there is nothing remotely common about them anymore!

Being bilingual is a great gift that every multilingual family should give their children – don’t miss the opportunity if you have it!

May the peace and power be with you.


© Rita Rosenback 2017

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  21 Responses to ““I wish my Mum had taught me her language””

  1. […] only a passive language for the children. I have heard many children of such families express their regret that they didn’t get used to speaking their family’s native language when they were young. We […]

  2. […] Recently I have been discussing this topic both with grandparents and grandchildren who have experienced the situation first hand. Their stories have made me realise how profound the impact it can have on your life if you grow up not being able to communicate with your grandparents and part or most of your relatives. I wrote about the feelings children have about this in a previous post. […]

  3. […] their languages – not to mention the many adults expressing their disappointment that they were not taught a language their mother or father knew when they were […]

  4. […] their languages – not to mention the many adults expressing their disappointment that they were not taught a language their mother or father knew when they were […]

  5. […] When I tell people what I do and what my book “Bringing up a Bilingual Child” is about, I regularly get to hear comments such as “That’s great!” followed by “Oh, I wish I could speak my parent’s language.” It would be so beneficial for parents who are hesitating whether or not to pass on their heritage language to their children to hear what these adults have to say and how they feel about the fact that they didn’t learn the language of their parent(s). […]

  6. […] den Weg geben zu haben – mal abgesehen von all den Erwachsenen, die gerne die eine zusätzliche Sprache ihrer Eltern von Kindesbeinen an erworben […]

  7. […] passar à diante o seu idioma – sem falar dos muitos adultos que expressam desapontamento porque não foram ensinados à eles quando pequenos, um idioma que seu pai ou mãe […]

  8. […] – sense mencionar la gran quantitat d’adults expressant la seva disconformitat en el fet que no se’ls va ensenyar l’idioma que els seu pare o mare sabien quan ells eren […]

  9. […] nemluvě také o spoustě dospělých, kteří jsou zklamaní, že když byli ještě malí, nebyli naučeni jazyku, který znala jejich matka či […]

  10. […] sus idiomas a sus hijos – sin hablar del hecho que muchos adultos exprimen decepción por que no se les enseño el idioma de sus papas cuando estaban […]

  11. […] vidare sina språk – för att inte tala om hur många vuxna som uttryckt sin besvikenhet att de inte fick lära sig deras moders eller faders språk när de var […]

  12. […] passar à diante o seu idioma – sem falar dos muitos adultos que expressam desapontamento porque não foram ensinados à eles quando pequenos, um idioma que seu pai ou mãe […]

  13. […] limba vorbită de ei; ca să nu mai zic de numeroșii adulți care s-au declarat dezamăgiți că nu au fost învățați și limba mamei sau a tatălui cât au fost […]

  14. […] à leurs enfants ; sans mentionner les nombreux adultes qui sont déçus que leur père ou mère ne leur ait pas appris leur langue quand ils étaient […]

  15. […] svoju rodnú reč svojim deťom – a to nehovoriac o dospelých, ktorí boli sklamaní, že sa nenaučili jazyky, ktorými ich mama alebo otec hovorili, keď boli […]

  16. […] والد را دیده ام که از سپری شدن روزهایی که می توانسته اند به امر پرورش کودکانشان بصورت دوزبانه بگذرانند و نکردند بسیار نادم و […]

  17. […] swoimi dziećmi. Nie można pominąć także tego, że wielu dorosłych żałuje, że ich rodzice nie nauczyli ich swoich języków, kiedy byli […]

  18. […] az anyanyelvük átadását. Nem is beszélve a sok felnőttről akik csalódottan mondták hogy nem tanulták az anyanyelvet vagy az „apanyelvet” amikor kis gyerekek […]

  19. […] 我可以向你保證,你不會後悔堅持並且確保孩子成長中,學會所有的家庭語言。相反的,我已經聽到好幾個父母遺憾自己放棄了傳承他們自己的語言,更不要說許多成人很失望父母沒有在他們小的時候教他們某個語言。 […]

  20. […] loro lingua – senza parlare poi dei molti adulti che esprimono il proprio disappunto perché nessuno ha insegnato loro la lingua del padre o della madre quando erano […]

  21. […] висловлюють своє розчарування в тому, що в дитинстві їх не навчили мови, яку знали їхні батько чи […]

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