by: Smart Coos
Maria Babin: Trilingual Mama
Maria Babin, creator of Trilingual Mama, has a trilingual, multicultural family that are currently living in Normandy, France. She blogs about her family’s linguistic and cultural adventures and offers advice on raising bilingual children.
Recently, we sat down with Maria Babin for an interview about the methods she used in raising her children to become multilingual.
What was the inspiration behind your blog/ page? Why have you continued?
Languages, and especially raising multilingual children, has always been a passion of mine. When several family members and friends asked what I thought made the difference between a successful multilingual family and one who was struggling to achieve this goal, I often wasn’t quite sure how to answer. It all felt very intuitive to me, but I wanted to be able to articulate my thoughts and ideas. I decided to start my blog Trilingual Mama with this quest in mind. Writing my blog is an enriching experience for me and the associations and friendships that I have created through my blog are invaluable and even precious to me. That’s what keeps giving me the fire and inspiration to continue my blog.
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 am the Trilingual Mama of four gorgeous, talented children who just happen to be trilingual as well. Alex is 14, Elena is 11, Gabriela is almost 9 and Rémy is 2 1/2 years old. Each one is an absolute joy! My husband and I wanted a large family and we wanted to have all our children very close together, but life had other plans for us. Our three oldest are about 2 1/2 years apart and there are nearly 6 years between our third and our last. We always say that if we were a little younger, we would have had a 5th and perhaps a 6th and perhaps…
Do your children speak multiple languages? If so, which languages do they speak?
Our children speak French, English and Spanish fluently.
After giving birth, did you create a formal plan for raising your children with more than one language?
I was completing my bachelor’s degree in French when I was expecting our oldest son Alex and just happened to be taking a class on early childhood second language acquisition. I dove in head first and absolutely loved every moment. I did a ton of research and discovered what the latest research said about raising multilingual children. Also, we didn’t just want to raise our children with two languages but three and so we had to be inventive about the way we would do this. So, a family language plan? Yes, very much so! Although we hardly realized we were creating a formal plan, we were doing exactly that.
What is your fondest memory as a mother of multilingual children? Your not so fondest memory? Why?
My fondest memory as a mother of multilingual children is a family language council we had a few years ago. My husband and I were concerned because we noticed that Spanish was lagging a bit behind. We decided to talk to the children about it to decide how we could remedy the situation. My daughter Elena who was probably 9 years old at the time, suddenly started crying because she had misunderstood and thought we were saying that we were going to drop Spanish from our family languages. It’s at that moment that I realized how strong of an emotional attachment our children had created with their heritage languages. Precious! My least favorite memory is of moments when I lose my patience because I have no clue what my children are saying because they unwittingly “borrow” words from all three languages when speaking to me and this sometimes makes understanding them a bit of a challenge.
How does motherhood influence your blog? Your business decisions?
Trilingual Mama? My blog is all about motherhood! I try to keep my blog posts simple, real and authentic. I try to show how I as a mother use my nurturing qualities to enhance the multilingual learning experience. I try to illustrate what one multilingual, multicultural family lives and experiences and how the emotional ties that are created through family experiences and language help children to love the languages they are learning. My business policy for my blog is that family is first. As I go through my days, I try to make my children and my family (and our language experiences) the priority, and not necessarily writing my blog. My hope is that when I do have time to write, it is more authentic, more genuine because I have allowed our family to live authentic language experiences.
If you could give only ONE advice to parents that are planning to raise multilingual children, what would it be?
Know what your motivations are for transmitting languages (and there are many different, good and valid reasons to raise multilingual children) and use that motivation to help you create a coherent family language plan. And remember that as families change and evolve, so should family language plans. Don’t be afraid to re-evaluate your motivations, observe your family’s needs and adapt your family language plan accordingly as many times as needed.
What does the future look like for you, your family and your business?
The future looks bright! I am currently working on developing a new service through my blog to offer language consultations for multilingual families. This is a project that I am very excited about and that I feel will offer valuable support to families who have the desire to raise multilingual children, but who may need a little guidance getting started or advice for overcoming specific challenges.
You can find Maria online at:
Let us know, are you creating a formal plan for raising your children with more than one language?