Question

My husband can not speak my mother tongue and I am afraid that he will feel left out if I teach our child my language – what to do?

Answer

It is great that you think about the scenario in advance. If you haven’t already done so, speak to your husband about this. It may be that he is not concerned at all and you have no reason to worry. If he does confirm that he is afraid he won’t be able to understand his child or that he will feel left out, then you need to find out in more detail what exactly worries him the most. I am stating the obvious here, but children do not learn to speak overnight, and it is possible to learn a language alongside your child, if not to become fluent, then at least to gain a good level of understanding of it. So if your husband is in agreement that you should raise your child to become bilingual then why not suggest he tries to learn a little himself as well. This will not only help him feel less left out when you speak your mother tongue with your child, but also in other social situations where your mother tongue is spoken, such as family gatherings. If he is against you passing on your mother tongue to your child, then you need to explain to him why it is important to you and what benefits your child is set to gain from being bilingual. Hopefully you can come to a compromise which allows your child to grow up acquiring both of your languages.

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