1, 2, 3…4 Mother Tongues

Claudia

I was born in The Netherlands and have a German father and Ghanaian mother. We spoke 4 languages at home (Dutch, Twi, English and German). Even though I always loved the fact that I understand multiple languages, at times it would feel a bit overwhelming.
If my mom would talk to me in Twi I would respond in Dutch or English. Or when a German family member would ask or say something I would tell my father what I wanted to say and ask him if he could respond for me. Now I can say that I am proud that I represent multiple languages and nationalities. I think that is why I always have been eager to travel the world and explore more languages, nationalities and cultures. I have been to Ecuador for an exchange program of six months, where I learned Spanish (language #5). Hopefully one day I will add a sixth language.

Not Cool!

I was born in the Netherlands but my parents are from Japan so when I was a child I had to attend both Dutch and Japanese school. I really disliked going to the Japanese school because it was on Saturdays. Six days of school is not cool. Keep reading Yuki’s story.Now I’m so thankful…

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Mixing Mother Tongues

Shantal

I was raised in a bilingual household where my family spoke Spanish and Dutch to me all the time. Only when I started going to school I began to notice that it was only my family who was able to understand me when I spoke a mix of Dutch and Spanish. My parents decided to return to Argentina for a year when I was 7. Keep reading Shantal’s story.

In Argentina I attended a school where only Spanish was spoken. I was welcomed with open arms. Not only my family helped me understand the difference between my two mother tongues, but also the teachers and students. I never felt left out or excluded, even if I accidentally mixed the two languages or didn’t know a certain word in Spanish. I remember they were patient and encouraging.

Back in The Netherlands I became aware why it was that people couldn’t understand me when I spoke Spanish. After that I never had any problems of miscommunication or exclusion by peers in the Netherlands. I remember I only had to take extra Dutch classes during school hours which was mandatory for all bilingual students to help us keep up with the same level as the native speakers.

I am very grateful for my parents for my bilingual upbringing. My mother always told me that languages are like keys to open doors and I fully agree with that. Communication is a big part of being able to understand somebody else and therefore important in going forward in harmony with your surroundings.