Hello Christina, shall we start with a short introduction? Can you say a few words about yourself?
My name is Christina and I am Danish. I lived in Denmark for the first 21 years of my life but I’d always felt drawn to England. I moved to the UK with the hope of practising my English and of course having a bit of adventure When I was 21.
I lived with 2 Danish friends in Birmingham for two years then when I was 23 I went to visit a friend in Bristol and met my now husband Ed and for the next 13 years beautiful Bristol was my home.
It was never in my plans to stay in the UK but after buying a house, setting up a gym, having two children and getting married it was never in my plans to leave.
We created and amazing life with lots of friends and clients and some businesses that we really loved.
In 2017 my dad became very sick with cancer, he had had it for 3 years but now it looked like he was losing the fight.
We decided to visit him and my mum in their home just north of Copenhagen, while we were there we were walking on the beach and talking about what life would be like if we moved to Denmark.
We decided to give it ago because we wanted to be closer to my mum as we knew she would be alone soon, but we also wanted to bring our kids up with more freedom, more nature and more time with us.
100 days after that walk on the beach we were in Denmark ready for a new adventure. We are now just over one year in and truly identifying as a bilingual family.
You’re a bilingual family now living in Denmark, can you tell us more about the languages your family speak and how you approach bilingualism on a daily basis?
We speak English and Danish as a family now. It never really materialised in the UK despite my efforts. Now a year into our Denmark adventure and the girls (4 and 7) are both bilingual.
I think to say we have an approach would be an over statement. We speak which ever language fits at the time. My husband is trying to learn Danish from apps but without attending classes it’s hard to speak Danish for an adult. The Danes are so good at English that they tend to switch as soon as then notice you’re English. When my mum visits she will only talk to the girls in Danish which is really nice.
How did you come up with the decision to have a bilingual family? Was it a natural consequence or rather a thought-through process?
When I knew I was going to have children with Ed I was definitely keen to have a bilingual family. I think it is such an advantage. I think it goes much deeper than just words. I think when you learn a new language, especially at a young age you learn about different cultures and different labels and different approaches to the world. I think it provides a way of seeing the world that you cannot teach in any other way. I wish more schools would teach languages from the beginning.
Bilingualism is a wonderful gift, what benefits do you see in bringing up your children bilingually?
I have to step outside of proud mum for a minute here I think. My girls are both incredibly kind, thoughtful, happy, they know what they want and they are both a calming influence on the children around them. I both see this and am told it often by teachers and friends.
With all of that said I really couldn’t say that this is due to our parenting, their lovely teachers at Silverhill school in Winterbourne, there lovely teachers here in Copenhagen or their bilingualism. It’s likely a combination of all of the above and no doubt a bit of luck too.
Bilingualism is also a complex phenomenon, what are the biggest challenges you face as a bilingual family?
I’m not sure we have encountered any challenges. My husband Ed often needs a translation or gets a little left out sometimes but I think he would say that’s sometimes and inventive and sometimes a blessing.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to future parents wanting to have a bilingual family?
I’m not sure I see myself as qualified to give advice. Something I know from health coaching that I have applied to bringing up my children is, you can’t force, shame, or discipline your children into habits. If you want it to happen it has to be fun.
Many thanks for taking time to be our interview guest today, Christina. Where can we find you online?
Photos: Lidia from Visuable