On the 8th February 2012, first Maximilian and then, 1,5 hours later, Zoe Eriksson were born in Palo Alto, CA.
They had been long waited for! Their parents, Martin Eriksson (Sweden) and Svetlana Eriksson (Russia) relished numerous dreams, plans, and aspirations to do with parenting these two wonderful new individuals. One of the most crucial dreams was to raise Max and Zoe multilingual: Russian, Swedish and eventually English. And so, Svetlana, a sociolinguist with a PhD from Trinity College Dublin (earned in 2011), set sail on a long journey of simultaneous parenting and researching.
When I said “trilingual” in 2013, I saw it more as Bilingual First Language Acquisition (BFLA) in the context where the English language was dominant. De Houwer (1) considers a child a BFLA case if two conditions are met: the child has been exposed to two languages from birth, and has had regular exposure to them until the time of the investigation. When we moved to Sweden in 2014, the few English words that Max and Zoe had by then gradually disappeared from their active repertoires. However, in 2015 we started to consciously re-introduce English to our children through cartoons and books in addition to exposing them to English when we had English-speaking guests. We used those occasions to teach them basic expressions in English, like greetings and farewells.
We transmit our heritage languages systematically, consistently, and in a deliberate manner; however, the exposure to English is not deliberate, it is inconsistent, and unsystematic, albeit regular and often involves the same actors/participants and contexts. This approach can be modified as our situation changes.
This site provides an account of Max and Zoe’s speech development, of their progress in language acquisition with audio and video material, as well as the analysis of relevant literature, an action plan, and recommendations for parents who have found themselves in the same boat as Svetlana and Martin. This site always has an imaginary “work in progress” banner stretched across the pages.
Furthermore, you can read accounts of other multilinguals, some of them also twins, about their growing up with more than one language, the times when multilingualism brought them joy or challenges, and the ways it affected their identities.
Enjoy this site and feel free to contribute to our exploration of the magical phenomenon of growing up with more than one language! How to contribute to the current research?
1. De Houwer, Annick. The acquisition of two languages from birth: A case study. Cambridge University Press, 1990.