Like in every multicultural household language is also a topic in ours. My wife and I met while working both for the European Union and many of our friends come from the same background. So we talk most of the time English in the office (our something similar to it, it has a fluid grammar and a very strange vocabulary), German in our private life and our mother tongues (Hungarian for my wife and German for me) with the kid. Our aim was from the beginning to enable the kid to communicate with both parts of her family.
While my wife speaks four language on a professional level (RO, HU, DE, EN; so she can yell at me in a very cosmopolitan manner!) I am very untalented (and lazy) when it comes to languages. Besides German and English I understand when somebody insults me in French and I know some Latin, but would not be able to declare war on Karthago.
Our kid (1 1/2 years) is following all studies we read about bilinguals. She understands what we say in Grman and Hungarian, but speaks less then other kids in her age. Okay, speaking less is only partly true. She is talking all the time her own language – which also could be Klingon – and adds German, sometimes also Hungarian words, to her monologues. Normally she does not mix the language, even though strange sentence are spoken in our home. Wanna here an example from last week? As friends were around the “default” language was English that day.
Be careful! The food is still forró*. You have to pust** it carefully!
* Hungarian for hot
** German for blow on [the meal]
While the kid is learning to speak, I’m also trying to get some basic knowledge of Hungarian. And old Hungarian colleagues love to laugh at conferences about the fact, I lack all regular introduction phrases in Hungarian, but know e.g. the word for hippopotamus and the phrase “I have to go to pee!”.
I am pretty sure our little ‘Malacka’ (which is the Hungarian word for piglet by the way, but this is another story) will be able to talk to us like other kids soon. Till then there are maybe still some obstacles in our way. And we will handle it with care and will laugh from time to time, like the moment when we found out, that if you ask her in German to point at her ear, she will point on her nose as the Hungarian word for nose (orr) is very close to the German one for ear (Ohr).