I have found your articles of real interest and embrace the messages you are trying to deliver upon raising a bilingual child. I just wanted to pick you brains on something. My wife is from Sweden, we live in England and have two children aged five and three. My wife has spoken Swedish to the kids since birth. She never changes this rule and we have always believed that this the correct thing to do. They certainly understand Swedish, but answer back to her in English. I always speak English to them. We speak English together as a family, as my Swedish is limited.

If we moved to Sweden in near future, would we simply carry on with the same routine? And would the children then just automatically start to speak Swedish? We are worried that if we did move to Sweden it would confuse the language learning curve of the children. Please advise.

Kind regards,


Dear P.D.

Thank you for your message and for the kind feedback.

With both of you speaking your native language to your children, you are following what is called a ‘One parent, one language’ (OPOL) strategy with English as your common language. If you were to move to Sweden, I would recommend that you stick to the same strategy. It will not take long until your children start to speak Swedish when they are immersed in the language in Sweden. Also, a move is a big change for all of you, so keeping the same language pattern in the family is to be recommended.

Children are very adaptable and their language development will not be hampered by your move. Since they are continuing to speak English with you and hear you and your wife speak it together, their English skills will be maintained and they will keep learning new words. Remember that they will also be hearing English for example on the TV as programs are not dubbed but subtitled in Sweden. There are also a lot of English high quality children’s programs available on-line which you can watch together with your sons to increase the exposure.

All the best with your move and good luck on your multilingual family journey!

Kind regards,

Rita Rosenback

Rita Rosenback

Rita is an author, Family Language Coach, blogger and speaker, who was born into a bilingual family on the Swedish-speaking west coast of Finland. After studying languages in Finland and Germany she worked as a university teacher, translator, interpreter and manager of multinational teams. Rita is now a full-time writer and coach and has been living in the U.K. since 1998. Rita is the mother of two grown-up multilingual daughters, who are the inspiration for her book: “Bringing up a Bilingual Child”, an easy-to-read guide for parents, where she navigates the reader across the “Seven Cs of Multilingual Parenting: Communication, Confidence, Commitment, Consistency, Creativity, Culture and Celebration”. Currently English and Swedish are Rita’s main languages, but she instantly switches to Finnish or German or to her Finland-Swedish dialect when the opportunity presents itself (and when push comes to shove, she can communicate in a very basic Punjabi). Rita is the creator and driving force of this website, and she gives talks and holds workshops for parents and teachers on the topic of bilingual children. She also coaches families on how to make the most of their languages and raise their children to become confident speakers of the chosen languages.


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