Today I can present to you another delightful multilingual family: Lisa, Ed, Joshua and Francesca who speak English as a family and live in Spain. You may already know Lisa as the driving force behind the site Cooking With Languages and the children’s activity cookbook with the same name.

Family languages:
English, Spanish (and Spanglish)  – everyone
French – mum
Spanish – in the community

You can get in touch with Lisa via her Facebook page

Multilingual Family with English and Spanish in Spain

Tell us about your family and your family’s background and where you live. Have you always lived where you are now?

We are a British family (by nationality) living in Mijas, Málaga, southern Spain. I, Lisa, was born in England, educated in the UK and France and have lived in Spain and the Spanish islands for over 20 years. My husband, Ed, is also British born and has spent over half his lifetime travelling and living abroad.

Joshua, age 11, was born in Fuerteventura and has lived in the Canary Islands, France (where he attended state school for one year, aged four years) and mainland Spain.

Francesca, age 8, was born in Fuerteventura, moved to France aged 3 months and has grown up in southern Spain.

What is your family language strategy – who speaks what language with whom? If you have a strategy, why did you choose it?

The children have always attended Spanish state school and so have been educated in Spanish all their lives. At home, unless we are completing specific homework or other activities, we always speak in English.

We have a good mix of Spanglish on many occasions too 😉

Why did you decide to raise your children to become bilingual?

Giving the gift of another language has always been my dream for my children. I clearly remember the day I decided that I wanted my children to grow up speaking more than one language.

What do you think is the biggest advantage your children have of being bilingual?  

Languages open doors. I want to give my children as many opportunities in life as I can. Every new language multiplies these opportunities.

Family pic Boat trip (2)What has been your biggest challenge when raising a bilingual kid?  Has everything gone as planned?

I’m afraid to admit that I have never made a plan. I tend to go for it and just keep going. I’m not a worrier. I deal with obstacles as they arise. We’ve been lucky!

Anything you would do differently at this stage? 

We have just made a big decision. Our son starts secondary education in September. We have decided to take him out of Spanish state education and have opted for a private bilingual school. Although he has an excellent level of English, mainly thanks to his extensive reading of English books, we feel a more formal teaching approach, in English, will be of great benefit to him. He will now be educated half in Spanish and half in English and will also learn German.

What are your family’s plans for the future with regards to languages? 

We are about to start our 11-week long summer holiday in Spain. Our aim this summer is to start speaking French and German. I have purchased various books and will put together some fun ideas to help the two children learn these two languages. I already speak French and have a basic knowledge of German. However, by making this a fun family experience, learning will be facilitated.

Lisa SadleirWhat is your best advice to other multilingual families raising bilingual children?

Please do not compare children. Do not worry about language learning. Every child is different. Children start walking at different ages. Children start speaking at different ages. Children learn languages in different ways. Make it fun. Don’t give up and enjoy.

Do you have a funny language related story to tell from your family?

Many years ago, on a road trip around Spain, my husband asked me where “Carretera” was. He said he’s seen it sign posted almost everywhere we’d been. (carretera = road in Spanish)

Tell us a bit about your Cooking With Languages book and project!

Having grown up and been educated in a country where foreign language learning is not given the attention, credit and resources it deserves, it is my personal mission, as a parent, to ensure my children acknowledge and appreciate the importance of learning new languages. Our family mission is to encourage also other children to want to learn languages. We want to make it fun. We want to make a difference. This is the whole reason behind our Cooking With Languages project. Please look out for us on Kickstarter soon – more details can be found on

Thank you, Lisa, for telling us about your lovely family and interesting language cooking project!
Here is Lisa’s book:

Would you like your family to be featured in this series? Please contact me!