by: Smart Coos
Rita Rosenback: Multilingual Parenting
Rita Rosenback, Multilingual Parenting. Rita is a Finland-Swedish blogger, coach and author of “Bringing up a Bilingual Child”. After studying languages in Finland and Germany she worked as a university teacher, translator, interpreter and team manager and is now a full-time writer and coach living in the UK. Rita has two grown-up daughters who are fluent in several languages. On her website you can find more than a hundred posts on the topic of raising bilingual kids as well as other resources. Rita also gives talks and holds workshops for parents and teachers.
Recently, we sat down with Rita Rosenback for an interview about her success story in raising her children to become multilingual.
What was the inspiration behind your blog/ page? Why have you continued?
My daughters, Minna and Daniela, are my biggest inspiration. Having successfully raised them to speak the family languages and seeing how they have been able to pick up additional languages with ease made me want to share our experience. Many more families could do the same with a little advice on how to use the languages in the family. What keeps me going is the overwhelmingly positive feedback I get from parents and the feeling of being able to help mums and dads across the world.
How many kids do you have? What is the age of your youngest and oldest? If more than one, did you plan to have that age gap?
I have two adult daughters, Daniela and Minna – there is seven years between them, not planned, but this is how it turned out. They are my pride and joy and I always say that I must have done something right in my life to be blessed with such kind and caring children.
Do your children speak multiple languages? If, so which languages do they speak?
My elder daughter Minna is fluent in English, Swedish, Punjabi and Finnish. She also knows German. Daniela was a late talker, so she did not learn Finnish before we moved to the UK – she is fluent in English, Swedish and Punjabi. She has also learnt German and can understand Finnish and speak a little.
After giving birth, did you create a formal plan for raising your children with more than one language?
No, I didn’t put in place a formal plan, but there was still a plan – we did what felt right (OPOL), with the twist that I changed the language I spoke with Minna when she was five, as I wanted her to go to a Swedish-speaking school in Finland. If I were to do it all again, I would know better and would make a formal Family Language Plan, as it makes things so much clearer.
What is your fondest memory as a mother of multilingual children? Your not so fondest memory? Why?
My fondest memory is probably when Minna was very small (under two years) and knew a few words in Finnish and Punjabi, but she still translated between her dad and myself, as she thought we couldn’t understand each other’s languages. My not so fondest memory was when a speech therapist told us to stick to only one language with Daniela as we were “confusing” her with the many languages and causing her language development to be delayed. I now know that this is completely incorrect and I am glad we didn’t follow the therapist’s advice. It still made us feel uncomfortable, though.
How does motherhood influence your blog? Your business decisions?
Having had children myself, I know how hectic family life can be. I also know that it is not always easy to follow advice and “do what is right” when you are exhausted by the day-to-day chores and all the social, financial and other pressure that families are under. I always try to be understanding and find solutions that are realistic and possible to implement. I run my business very much with my heart.
If you could give only ONE advice to parents that are planning to raise multilingual children, what would it be?
If you have the chance to give your children the gift of an additional language, please do so. It is a gift that keeps giving for several generations, and it will have a positive impact on so many lives even after you are no longer around!
What does the future look like for you, your family and your business?
I am doing what I love and I am so happy and humbled that my passion and business is the same thing! I am writing a smaller ebook at the moment which I hope to publish this summer, and I will be doing more live webinars. Another book is also in the planning stage. My daughters have flown the nest, but they are very supportive and attend my events whenever they can – I call them “my proof in the pudding” when I introduce them to parents coming to listen to my talks or take part in my workshops. What I am most excited about right now is that I will become a grandmother later in the year!
You can find Rita online at:
Let us know, are you creating a formal plan for raising your children with more than one language?