Interview With Annika Burgogne Author of “Be Bilingual: Practical Ideas for Multilingual Families”

Be Bilingual: Practical Ideas for Multilingual Families is a informational, easy to read book that combines fun ideas and tips for parents raising bilingual and multilingual children with evidence based research.  The author, Annika Burgogne, not only draws from her knowledge as a language teacher and from her experiences as a mom raising bilingual children but also includes advice she compiled from interviewing 50 bilingual and multilingual families from across the world.  The result is a wealth of practical and useful ideas span the gamut of different multilingual situations making this book a universal guide for parents raising children in more than one language.  But let us read more from Annika Burgogne herself:


Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a language teacher from Helsinki, Finland where I live with my French husband and our two bilingual daughters, Emma 12 and Sara 7 years old. I love reading, writing and traveling!


What was your inspiration for writing Be Bilingual: Practical Ideas for Multilingual Families?

I have grown up in a bilingual home, but  I never learned to speak my mother’s first language (Swedish) as a child simply because she never spoke it to me! Because of this I was very determined that my children would learn both our languages and did my master’s thesis on bilingualism to learn more about the subject. For the past 12 years we have been looking for ways to put into practice the findings of studies on raising bilingual children and I wanted to share these everyday solutions, backed up by research, with other parents.


Be Bilingual and Annika and her family on a recent trip to the US. Photos courtesy of Annika Burgogne.
Be Bilingual Practical Ideas fro Multilingual Families and Annika and her family on a recent trip to the US. Photos courtesy of Annika Burgogne.

Why are you passionate about bilingualism/multilingualism? 

As a child I felt that I missed out on my cultural heritage because my mother didn’t speak Swedish to me. Ever since my children were born I’ve been passionate about them learning French to be able to have a natural relationship with their grandparents and relatives in France. The girls are spending summer holidays with their grandparents as we speak and I’m so happy to see how close they are and how naturally they communicate together.


Who would you recommend Be Bilingual: Practical Ideas for Multilingual Familiesto?

The book has ideas for families in many different multilingual situations: mixed-language marriages, expats, international adoption, single parent- and trilingual families, and parents who speak a non-native language to their children.

If you could tell people who are raising bilingual and multilingual children one thing what would it be?

Based on our experience I would definitely recommend putting effort into reinforcing the minority language. Over the years we have tried our best to make speaking French fun and useful for our girls and feel that this has made the biggest difference in their bilingualism. The book also contains a lot of ideas on how to do this in our busy  lives.


What has been your greatest challenge while raising bilingual/multilingual children?

The fact that as our children grow they spend more and more time outside the home with their friends and at different activities – in the majority language! My husband also travels a lot so we have needed to find solutions to keep up the French even when the native speaker is not at home.


What was the most valuable thing you learned while talking to other families when you where researching to write your book?

I had the pleasure to interview about 50 families from around the world to find out their best tips for making multilingualism work in real-life. This made me realize that there are as many multilingual situations as there are families, but the basics are the same everywhere. We all try our best to pass our native languages to our children and experience moments of triumph and frustration. I am happy and grateful for their help in putting together these practical ideas that I sincerely believe to be helpful for parents of multilingual families.

Is there something you would like to add or share with Growing Up Bilingual’s readers?

Make bilingualism a priority  but not a source of stress in your life. Enjoy your family’s multilingual journey!


Be Bilingual: Practical Ideas for Multilingual Families is available on and there is also a version for Kindle. You can learn more about Annika Burgogne and Be Bilingual by visiting her website at Like Be Bilingual on Facebook to stay updated on new tips and advice for bilingual and multilingual families and follow Annika on twitter @AnnikaBourgogne.

Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz

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14 thoughts on “Interview With Annika Burgogne Author of “Be Bilingual: Practical Ideas for Multilingual Families””

  1. Cuando están pequeños es cuando se les debe enseñar otro idioma, ya más creciditos es tarea casi que imposible.
    La autora tiene toda la razón, ser bilingüe debe ser una prioridad, eso sí, sin ningún estrés 🙂

  2. Totalmente cierto y entre más pequeños, mejor. Son como esponjitas. Pero depende de nosotros, por eso libros como este nos orientan. Gracias por compartir.

  3. Que interesante entrevista, realmente el papel que jugamos los padres es básico, hablarles desde pequeños es un buen punto de partida, lo cierto que a veces me estreso pero como explica ella, hay que disfrutar este viaje del bilinguismo . Muchas gracias

  4. Intelligent and interesting interview. Nice to see bilingualism out of our usual latino context, yet very much emphasizing points we all can use- a universal appeal. EXCELENTE!!! Keep sharing such great posts amiga. BB2U

  5. Me interesa bastante este tema, me gusta el libro.
    Mas alla de que tengo claro la importancia de que mis hijos sean bilingues aveces es un poquito estresante para mi. Muchas gracias por esta entrevista, cuando uno ve que hay familias que lo logran y ademas comparten su experiencia, es de gran ayuda, me sirve de motivacion.


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