This is a great article that explains, from the research, why no one method is a guarantee of bilingual success. When I do parent seminars we talk about this a lot. Being an OPOL family doesn’t automatically mean your kids will be bilingual. Having a minority language at home does not automatically mean your kids will be bilingual. Outside of true bilingual communities, successful child bilingualism happens when you pay attention to ensuring adequate quantity and quality of input, and provide meaningful opportunities for language use.
It won’t happen by itself – you need a plan!
A question of primary importance concerns the type and amount of language input the child will receive, mainly from his/her parents but also from other sources.
Why is bilingual education ‘good’ for rich kids but ‘bad’ for poor, immigrant students? – The Washington Post
This is a fantastic article about the two-sided nature of the bilingualism debate. “Desirable bilingualism” involves children who speak the host-country language and another, high-status language. These bilinguals are considered “lucky” to have two languages. On the other side, immigrants and refugee children who speak a lower-status language and are learning the host-country language are labeled as “deficient” (taalachterstand) and pushed at earlier and earlier ages to conform to a monolingual norm in schools. Discrimination and elitism at its most pernicious….
To put it bluntly, bilingualism is often seen as “good” when it’s rich English speakers adding a language as a hobby or another international language, but “bad” when it involves poor, minority, or indigenous groups adding English to their first language, even when the same two languages are involved.
Tomorrow I am off to London, not to shop, but to talk. In a departure from my normal audience and topic I will be speaking to adults, about adult bilingualism. Although the main focus of my work is helping teachers and parents support child bilingual development, I am not an early bilingual myself. In fact, I came to the bilingualism game quite late, mastering my second language in my 20s. So, I know it is not always “the early bird that gets the worm”. A couple of years ago I had an idea for a talk about bilingualism, focusing on the benefits for everyone who makes the effort to learn another language, rather than just the advantages for children. It’s been bouncing about in my brain for a while, so when this opportunity came up I thought “why not”?
The talk is titled “How languages can change your life” (not a great title but it all happened quite quickly!) and it is based on the following:
Bilingualism opens minds
Bilingualism opens hearts
Bilingualism opens doors
It’s a brief foray into the world of learning and using other languages, and what we all get out of the process, whether or not we are “native-like” at the end of the day.
So, if you happen to be looking for something to do in London on Sunday, the show is free, and looks fantastic. I am speaking on Sunday afternoon, from 13:00-13:45. I always enjoy meeting blog readers (although it’s admittedly a bit odd meeting strangers who “know” me…).
So it happened, the moment every married person dreads… I forgot my anniversary! Thankfully, it was only my blog anniversary, so I only need be angry with myself.
But to mark the milestone, even a few days late, here are some interesting facts:
1. What I blog about: Bilingualism/multilingualism
2. What my “specialization” is: child bilingualism and bilingualism in education
3. What is my objective?: I want to encourage parents and teachers to learn more about bilingualism, to better support children on this fantastic journey. I hope to share theoretical and practical advice, and just generally be a cheerleader along the way.
4. I have made 134 posts over the last three years. Not quite weekly, but I do my best…
5. I have had visitors from 166 countries over the last three years, which is an amazing map to contemplate.
6. I only really like blogging when I have a great idea, or great interaction with a reader. The rest of the time it feels a lot like work… but I think it is worth it!
So that is my three years in a nutshell, I hope you have enjoyed the journey with me.
Apparently this is the season of events rather than blogging, but I promise the next post will be a real blog post!
In the meantime, this upcoming International Family Fair is a must for parents living in and around The Hague. All the topics you would like to know about, under one roof, on one afternoon! Continue reading →
DRONGO is for anyone who lives in, and wants to explore the modern multilingual world. Is my language a problem or a solution? Where can I find booklets, expertise, training, tests, schools, interpreters? At DRONGO you will find questions and answers, speakers and storytellers, and a lot of contact opportunities. For children and parents, students and teachers, language professionals, policy makers and language fans!
A quick note to announce that the first edition of the new two-part parenting series will be held in The Hague on September 22 and October 2, 2014. Continue reading →
To have another language is to possess a second soul.
As someone who has lived within the academic world since the age of five years old, I always feel like the beginning of September is the “New Year” for me. The last six months have been very busy for me, both personally and professionally (having three kids will do that for you!) and I’ve not been a very consistent blogger…
So here is a new start, with four projects I am working on – What’s happening with CEC (Crisfield Educational Consulting) this year. Continue reading →
I’ve written here before about Bilingual Monkeys, which is a great website full of information about raising bilingual children. There is a new spin-off from the website, The Bilingual Zoo, which is a proper forum for parents looking for support from other families on the same journey. Continue reading →