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Some families are hiring multilingual nannies. They say there are clear benefits for their children.

Pooja Mistry Shah   

Some families are hiring multilingual nannies. They say there are clear benefits for their children.
  • Some families are opting to have nannies that speak a different language than them.
  • These caregivers can help children connect with the family's native tongue.

In our increasingly interconnected world, the decision to hire a nanny is a deeply personal one for families, influenced by socioeconomic, cultural, and comfort-driven factors. These caregivers not only provide attentive care but also serve as profound shapers of a child's development, imparting guidance and nurturing that leaves an indelible mark.

For instance, Candi Vajana, an experienced nanny fluent in both English and Italian, has helped countless families in her 30-year tenure learn new languages. "Children learn very quickly, especially in the 0 to 5 age range," Vajana told Business Insider. "We live in a society where being able to speak multiple languages is now the norm."

As a result, some families are intentionally seeking out nannies who possess the gift of multilingualism, recognizing the invaluable immediate and long-term benefits it can bestow.

A multilingual nanny offers cultural exposure for both the child and the parent

Jayna Patel, a real-estate agent based in Miami, receives care from a Spanish-speaking nanny for her 3-year-old son twice a week for a total of 10 hours a week.

Discovered through the trusted grapevine of word-of-mouth recommendations from the family, Patel's nanny has proven to be a linguistic treasure trove for her son. "Despite our differing parenting styles, I love how she speaks to my son in Spanish, even when conveying the simplest of phrases like 'pick this up' or 'are you hungry?'" Patel told BI.

In their home, where Gujarati is the native tongue, Patel's son is immersed in a rich tapestry of languages — English and Spanish at his Montessori school, and Gujarati instilled by his parents, complemented by the cultural heritage found in learning materials like Modi Toys. Yet, it is the introduction of Spanish into her son's everyday vocabulary that captivates her and also helps her improve her own vocabulary.

"When you live in a diverse city like Miami, it's invaluable to have a foreign nanny, ensuring both you and your child develop a greater understanding and appreciation for inclusivity," Patel said. "I definitely recommend it to families to help their children with their linguistic tools and global appreciation."

Knowing multiple languages helps with social and communication skills

In the cosmopolitan city of Singapore, where self-employed business owner Natasha Bhalla Mistry lived for over six years, she sought a foreign nanny to care for her two daughters during their formative years.

"We intentionally picked a Filipino caregiver who spoke Tagalog for live-in help because of how nurturing and outgoing the community is," Bhalla Mistry told BI. "We wanted our daughters to reflect those traits, and they saw the nanny as a second mother."

Plus, the nanny helped Bhalla Mistry feel connected to her new home in Singapore amid a relocation from London during COVID-19; in the absence of family due to pandemic restrictions, her nanny became a steadfast presence in her life, teaching her Filipino customs and traditions. Additionally, the nanny purposefully taught Bhalla Mistry's daughters Tagalog while they learned Mandarin at school and Hindi at home.

The family has since relocated to Switzerland, adding French to their daughters' growing communicative repertoire. "Children who grow up multilingual often develop better communication skills and can switch between languages more easily," Bhalla Mistry said. "The girls have cultivated an open-mindedness from a young age that will help them make deeper connections with other kids and adults."

Multilingual nannies can help children connect with their native tongues

Maria Olsson-Tysor of Orange County, California, hails from Sweden and only speaks Swedish to her children, while her husband speaks to them in English. Yet, she decided to hire two Swedish-speaking nannies; this decision was not merely a pragmatic choice but an act of cultural preservation.

"We visit family in Sweden annually, so it's important for all of our family to speak the same language and understand each other," Olsson-Tysor told BI. "There were times when my children responded only in English when relatives spoke to them in Swedish, and they felt embarrassed to speak the language, but we kept going."

Despite living in the States, Olsson-Tysor incorporated multiple immersive experiences like Swedish schools, books, movies, playdates, and, of course, the companionship of the nanny to reinforce linguistic bonds.

"The more exposure to the language, with different sources, the better, and it will help your children flex their brain muscles and show them new ways of thinking," Olsson-Tysor said.

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