Episode 71: A Third Culture Kid shares her best tips and resources with Esther Brumme

Episode 71

On this episode of Bilingual Avenue, I interview Esther Brumme.  She shares her personal journey as a Third Culture Kid and the many resources she uses at home to support her children’s language journey.

Esther was born in Switzerland to a British mother and an American father and grew up in Paris.  Esther is trilingual in French, English and German and conversational in Mandarin and Italian.   She is passionate about language, culture and raising her own two children to be lovers of the world. You can follow her adventures on her blog thirdculturemama.com


Episode #71 Quick Guide

On this episode, Esther discusses with us:

  • Her language and cultural journey which started from birth;
  • Her upbringing as a Third Culture Kid (TCK) and defines the term as someone who has spent a majority of their developmental years outside of their parents’ culture(s);
  • How TCKs build relationships with all of the cultures they have been exposed to without having ownership in any of them;
  • How much more information is available to support the needs of TCKs nowadays;
  • Her experience moving back to one of her passport countries;
  • How languages are managed in her home including how she speaks French and her husband speaks English to her children;
  • How they have started to introduce Mandarin to her children once they reach the age of two;
  • How she relies on outside resources like the internet, YouTube and radio to expose her children to Mandarin besides just herself;
  • The benefits she sees in teaching her children a language where she is not a native speaker;
  • Why it was important for her that her children grow up in a linguistically diverse background in her home;
  • The importance of having support from her husband on the language journey;
  • How some friendships have perceived the multilingual strategy she has implemented in her home as snobbish;
  • How she conveys to her friends that multilingualism is a gift she is giving her children;
  • The challenge she is facing now that the community language is becoming more and more prevalent in the home now that her son is getting older;
  • A really funny story that happened while at the zoo and her son wondered how to call a seal in French;
  • How proud she is to see her kids feeling comfortable whenever speaking in French or English with friends and neighbors.

Once we hop on the Autobahn at Bilingual Avenue, Esther shares –

  • Favorite resources: Native speakers, radio, books, audio books, and language meetups. Her favorite radio stations for French: NRJ (an acronym read as énergie in French) and an app she suggested called Radio.  Her favorite resource in Chinese: Chinesepod;
  • Best advice received:  It is not all or nothing. There are different levels of fluency and bilingualism.  We all have different goals and even just small goals are useful;
  • What has held her back: Misconceptions from the outside that her children may be confused if exposed to too many languages;
  • Great family habit: Consistency and sticking with it through thick and thin;
  • Favorite Books:  L’imagerie Milan Petite Enfance
  • Best Advice to others: The language journey is a marathon!


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