My wife Anna is German and I am French-American. We live in Luxembourg. We use French, German and English interchangeably.
Anna and I speak English at home but want Louise to speak perfect German and French (with English to come later).
Here is a list of some things we are doing at the moment:
– Anna only speaks to Louise in German – no exceptions.
– I only speak to Louise in French – no exceptions.
– Anna and I also ask her grandparents to abide by that same rule.
– We placed Louise in a French-speaking kindergarten. We asked that the kindergarten focuses on the development of French (and not to speak to her in different languages (which is common in Luxembourg!)).
– Anna buys books only in French and German (and sometimes even the same book in both languages – for example, we bought an image book that is lots of fun).
– We also buy bilingual books. As a result, reading is always a fun moment because Anna and I each read our lines in French or German that refer to the same story point.
This is a good activity to do as a trilingual family because it involves everyone and this betters Louise’s development. Louise gets accustomed to us speaking in our respective main languages.
The above steps help Louise to associate each parent (and grand-parent) with a language. Louise starts to respond to words in each language that refer to the same thing. This is very encouraging. Obviously, she takes more time to get used to different words because she has to deal with hearing three languages all the time.
As a result of the above steps, Anna and I already some results with the above steps. We are confident about the future.