About me

Rita Rosenback compr crop Hi – welcome to Multilingual Parenting! My name is Rita Rosenback and I am the mother of two grown-up multilingual daughters, Minna and Daniela. I was born into a bilingual family in the tiny village of Dagsmark on the west coast of Finland, in one of the Swedish speaking areas of Finland. English and Swedish are my main languages at the moment, but I instantly switch to Finnish or German and with great delight to my Finland-Swedish dialect when the opportunity presents itself.

At the Åbo Akademi university in Turku, Finland, I studied German, Finnish, Swedish and Sociology. Some of my youth was spent at a university in Göttingen in the then West Germany – the main subjects being Life, German and some Spanish. Translator, interpreter, language teacher, university lecturer and team leader count amongst the different jobs I have had the fortune to add to my CV so far in life, and I am excited to add ‘writer’ to this list.

I now live in Derby, in the East Midlands area of England, having moved here in 1998. I am proud to say I feel strongly about both countries – I am always “going home” when travelling between Finland and England. Since 2012 I am happily married to Bob, without whose support I would not be anywhere close to fulfilling my dream of writing a book. My daughters are the inspiration for all that I do, and as far as my writing goes, without them there would be no book.

“Bringing up a Bilingual Child” will be out in June – sign up to my newsletter to receive exclusive extracts and information on when and where it will be available. Thank you!

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30 replies

  1. Good luck on your quest Rita. I could be one of those multilingual parents, but I have to confess we struggle somewhat… and it’s easier to speak the same language at home as you do on the street so the parent languages have somewhat dwindled. Interested in your experiences 🙂

  2. Thank you, Arno! I know how it is, in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it is so easy to just go with the flow, specially after kids start nursery or school. Anything is better than nothing though … maybe you could introduce some really fun activities that you do in Dutch? Motivation is the the crucial thing, both for you and the kids! 🙂

  3. Nice start Rita. Waiting for more! 🙂
    Multilingual parents over here and one of the kids struggling with dyslexia. 😦
    No easy task…

    • Thank you, Anders!
      Swedish and Finnish, I presume? Research has shown that there is no link between dyslexia and being bilingual. Dyslexia does not get worse if you learn two languages.
      Don’t know the age of your children, but the recommendation is that a dyslexic should learn to read and write first in the language which is phonetically more consistent – in your family’s case Finnish. Finnish is actually a wonderful language for dyslexics, everything is pronounced exactly as it is written and so much easier to learn than for example Swedish, not to mention English.
      Would be interested to know how you are getting on – all the best!

  4. Hi Rita,
    I enjoy reading your blog. I am fascinated by how our brains deals with several languages (I speak four and after a decade of life in the UK I noticed that syntax in my mother tongue has got a twist from English now). In particular since becoming a mum of twin boys almost two years ago, I feel like being part of a living experiment watching the boys acquire two languages simultaneously. Fingers crossed that we keep both languages in years to come! I look forward to reading more of your posts!

    • Thank you so much for reading my blog, I am glad you enjoy it!
      I agree, it is really fascinating to see children grow up acquiring several languages. With a little effort from you while they are young, you will see that your boys will maintain their language skills and benefit from them as adults. If you are interested in the “inner workings” of us bilinguals (‘bilingual’ – according to agreed definitions stands for anyone speaking more than one language), I recommend you read François Grosjean’s book ‘Bilingual – Life and Reality’ a truly well written and insightful book. All the best to you and your family!

      • Thanks a lot Rita for the reading suggestion, I’ll find the book and read it! I am looking for answers to dozens of questions related to bilingual language acquisition so this will come in very handy! Your blog is also a great resource – keep writing and we’ll keep reading 🙂 !

  5. I am surprised to find very little information on this subject, except some very common guidelines to parents. Glad to see some practical advice! I became interested in multilingual parenting because we are raising our 1 year old, all of us speaking our native language: mother is Russian, I am Greek and grandma (who spends like 1-2 h per day with our son) is American. At the same time I speak with my wife in English because I don’t know Russian and my wife does not know Greek. We live in Greece. Sometimes I feel this will be a real experiment, but our pediatrician is very supportive!

  6. Thank you very much for your feedback – I am glad you find my blog useful. What a fascinating family you have, congratulations! Consistency is the important thing in your scenario. Stick to the languages in the way you use them now and your son will become trilingual from the very start. Sometimes this may mean switching from one language to another mid-sentence, but it will be worth it. Being able to identify one language with one person will make it so much easier for your son. The fact that you speak English with each other is fine, as long as both of you always use your own language when speaking directly to him. Don’t worry if he initially mixes his languages, this will soon sort itself out. Also, don’t be concerned if he takes a bit more time than other children to start speaking (this is sometimes, but not nearly always the case with children learning more than one language) – once he starts speaking, you will be amazed with what he can say. Happy to hear that your pediatrician also supports you, as this is not always the case. All the best to your and your family on your multilingual journey!

  7. I just nominated you for the Liebster award! Read about it here: http://thepolyglut.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/liebster-award/

  8. Thank you for the nomination – will pass it on!

  9. Hi Rita!

    Now that I’m on this page I see you’ve already recently been nominated for the Liebster, but what’s done is done! I just nominated you, too! Enjoy the blog love! http://afrenchamericanlife.com/2013/06/27/liebster-award/

    -Carol

  10. Hello Rita. Got to your blog after reading your comment to my article (The language of emotions) in The Copenhagen Post. It’s interesting to note that children can handle three languages so I’m certainly going to continue speaking to her in my mother tongue.

    You have an interesting blog; it’s a great resource for parents, like me, who are interested in multilingual parenting.

    • Thank you for your lovely comment and for stopping by my blog!
      I am happy to hear that you have decided to continue speaking your language with your daughter and not to wait until she is older – I guarantee that you (and she) will be pleased about sticking with it when she grows up! Although it can feel a bit difficult at times, it is definitely easier to tackle the rough patches as and when they occur, than to try to introduce a language later on when her language use is established and you may no longer have as much say in what she wants to speak 🙂

  11. Hello Rita! I am so glad I’ve come across your blog – a friend of mine shared a link to the blog on the FB. I am so surprised how little information is available on this subject!!!
    I am raising a trilingual son, who is 2.5 years old now. I speak Russian with him, his father speaks Swedish and he goes to a bilingual English-Swedish pre-school,and my husband and I speak English with each other. I must say that at the moment Swedish is dominant as the pre-school teachers mostly speak Swedish even when they are supposed to speak English (I suspect!) and his dad, and the whole environment of course affects him…However I am not giving up and pushing on Russian. When he replies in Swedish I pretend I do not understand and make him say things in Russian….Cannot provide him at the moment at least 30% of his awake time, but will target at this by finding Russian speaking friends, going to Russian speaking activities etc.
    Anyway, just wanted to express how glad I am to find your blog. Will follow you and hope to get lot of good ideas on how to make my dream of a fully trilingual child a reality!

    • Welcome Renata – I am glad that you have found my blog, where you will find lots of ideas on how to keep the language going with your son. The main thing is for you to stay consistent when you talk directly to him. When he gets used to only speaking Russian with you, this will be the preferred language between you. Good luck!

    • Renata, zdravstvui. My family is similar (2 year old son, me (father) Greek, mother Russian, talk in English to each other, talk native language to son, live in Greece). I’d like to ask when did your son start saying words you can identify? Ours still says nothing except babbling mama-baba type words (actualy baba is funny because it means daddy in Greek and grandma in Russian).

  12. Dear Rita,

    Thank you for your blog. It is always very interesting to read about the subject, considering that I am a beginner on this long road, called parenting. I am a mother of a 5 months old little girl, who is hopefully going to be a multilingual person. My mother language is hungarian, my husband’s language is portuguese, we live in Portugal, but speaking english at home, since it is still easier for me than portuguese. I have a lots of doubts and fears, so I read your blog and experiences with a great enthusiasm. 🙂

  13. Rita, I’m really enjoying your blog. Congrats on the book! I look forward to hearing more and exploring all your posts!
    -Nika

  14. ” my Finland-Swedish dialect”
    I wonder how different, say in terms of British dialects which I’m familiar with, that is compared to Stockholm Swedish. Are there intelligibility issues?
    Thanks.

    • Very different! “What’s this?” in Swedish is “Vad är det här?” in my dialect it is “Kva je hittje?” Yes, it is more or less impossible for someone in Stockholm to follow (of course there are many words that are similar as well).

      • Uh, thanks. Sounds like they are almost different languages then. 😮 It always amazes me that how such basic phrases may be so different in two dialects of one language. (Each and every dialect is mutually understandable in my native Hungarian language even though Szombathely in Western Hungary is about 1000 kms away, as the crow flies, from Székelyudvarhely in Eastern Transylvania).

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