We (2 parents, 1 child) are moving to Denmark for a little more than a year. Our child is around three and a half years old. We are all Finnish, and the adults speak good English, some Swedish and a smattering of other languages; we do intend to learn as much as Danish as we can, also. This is a short academic job, so it is possible we will continue in Finland, Denmark, or some other country after this. (Germany and Japan seem probable countries, for example.)

It is likely that daycare in Danish, English and maybe even Finnish are available. I might find colleagues of various nationalities with children of roughly the same age, or maybe not.

Our first priority, language-wise, is for the child to speak fluent Finnish. Our second priority is for they to have children to play with. Our third priority is for them to learn an additional language or two, preferably as well as possible.

The question Moving to a foreign country with a 2.5 years old child addresses a longer stay (I guess) and involves only two languages.

My questions are:

  1. Which language should we speak at home and with each other? I'm guessing Finnish, so that she will master it.
  2. What should be the language of the daycare?

1 Answer 1


Expat here.

My three siblings and I (French) were fluent in English within months after arriving in the US. My youngest sibling was about 3 when we arrived. The four of us are all still fluent. (The many English VHS cartoons and movies we brought home upon moving back, and playing English computer games and reading English RPGs, may have had something to do with staying fluent in English.)

Fast forward, and my wife and I have many friends with bilingual kids or more. For instance a Portuguese-Hungarian couple living in Paris, where the husband speaks Portuguese with the children, the wife speaks Hungarian with them, they speak English together, and the children speak French at school. Their two children (3 and 5) are in large part quadrilingual or heading there.

Point being, at this age children are sponges. Speak Finnish at home (so they can interact with your parents and their cousins), Danish with local friends, and let the kids sponge their way to bilingualism through daycare. And if you're both fluent in English, interacting with your spouse in English only will lead them to mastering English as a bonus.

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