My wife speaks russian and I speak german. How do I teach my son the two languages?

For now my wife speaks to him in russian and I speak in german.

  • 2
    Do you have any specific doubts? Two parents speaking their two (native?) languages is perhaps the way to do this.
    – Stephie
    Jul 16, 2015 at 16:05

3 Answers 3


I think you are doing it right. Children are learning so much that it is nothing for them to pick up on the difference in language. The way we speak and pronounce words are all from muscle memory, and semantics are learned best by immersion. Also if you can all but help it try to always face the child head on so they can see your face when you talk. This aids in knowing how to shape your face when pronouncing words. (The English "th" sound, for instance, is sometimes difficult for native Germans to pronounce without seeing how the the tip of the tongue is in between your teeth. For native English speakers you'd never see it, but I remember teaching my daughter how to say "The" and making a big show my teeth smile saying the word helped her know how I make that "th" sound, up to that point it was always a "f" sound that she made)


TL;DR You should put the child in an immersion environment to ensure that he builds his language skills and confidence in the language that he is his "secondary" language.

The long answer Assuming that you live somewhere where German or Russian is the primary language, your son will tend towards being more comfortable in one language or the other. We faced a similar situation (English & Mandarin). Living in Canada we found our eldest daughter tended to be more comfortable speaking English as that is the language on the street. She could understand Mandarin no problem but would respond in English. I think this was primarily a confidence issue, but there was obviously a gap in terms of how effectively bilingual they were.

This resolved itself when my wife took her to Beijing to visit their grandparents at age 3 for two months. This forced her to speak in Mandarin as well as understand what was being said. By the time they came back she was perfectly comfortable switching back & forth between English and Mandarin when she talked.


It simply works, but might take some time.

Our children learn 3 languages as neither of us is from the country where we live. Our son will soon turn 4 (the second is much smaller), and he learns one language with his mother, one with his father and the third in Kindergarten. Both parents insists on only using one language with him. He should be able to identify with whom he can use each language. So don't change, keep on using the same to the child. Always.

Now my son can understand, and to some extend speak the three languages. For example, he can count in all three languages. But then there are some differences, the main language at home is the mother's language. So he is more fluent in that one.

I noticed a few things: he tends to learn faster with children (cousins, friends, etc.) his age. So he learn the language of the country where we live pretty fast. And each time he gets a bit more immersed, he makes a huge progress in the said language, for example when we visit the grand parents, or they come to us. On his own, he normally speaks a mix between his mother's language and the Kindergarten's. To his sister he usually speaks the mother's. But he understand the three fairly well, and in his two forte do not show a too strong accent. The third one is a bit behind in understanding, expression and accent.

  • Something is to be said about having kids of the same age teaching something. My 1.5 year old can do things my that 3.5 year old just learned (and taught him). It wasn't until my 3.5 year old was 2ish that she started speaking (she used sign language mainly). My 1.5 year old's sign language was going no where until my 3.5 year old started showing him Jul 17, 2015 at 12:48

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