December Theme: “Multilingualism”

20 Dec 2019 1:48 AM | FIGT Blog Editor (Administrator)

Language is a gift. There are myriad benefits in learning to communicate across different languages. FIGT kicks off this month’s theme “multilingualism.”

Nelson Mandela said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

There are myriad benefits in learning to communicate across different languages. Language is not only a means for communication but a link to culture and identity, especially for those growing up in a cross-cultural environment or raising multilingual children.

Whatever your motivation for living multilingually, the rewards can be vast; yet, it’s not always easy.

Here are some ways to approach the broad subject of multilingualism:

Benefits of multilingualism

Apart from the usefulness of being able to bargain at a local market, what other benefits does being bi-/multilingual bring? (An interesting read: “The amazing benefits of being bilingual,”, 13 August 2016.)

Learning a language as an adult

We know that learning a language is a great way to adapt to and get to know other cultures. But it can be challenging. Can adults still attain fluency? What are some tips to help adult learners? What are the differences between learning a language as an adult vs as a child? (A hopeful read: “MIT Scientists prove adults learn language to fluency nearly as well as children,”, 4 May 2018.)

Language, culture, and identity

How does language interact with culture and identity? When children reach adolescence and start to form their identities, the languages they speak may form a part of their answer to the question “Who am I?” What about those who learn new languages as adults? What do we know about the language-identity link, and what does it mean for globally mobile families, TCKs, and CCKs, and their cultural heritage and connections with extended family? What should family members, teachers, and other adults know? (Language apparently matters most when people define national identity: “What It Takes to Truly Be ‘One of Us,’” Pew Research, 1 February 2017.) 

Raising multilingual children

Each family needs to find the strategy that works for them, but what are some common approaches to raising multilingual children? Is it true that multilingualism can cause speech delays? Can it ever be too late for a child to learn a language?

There are so many questions, and there are also many resources and support out there, but here are two places you might start:

ALSO: We asked FIGT Member and family language coach Rita Rosenback to share some resources on multilingualism to help us make sense of the plethora of information online.

To access this month’s content: Please join us on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. Video content will be available for the month and then archived to the members’ only section of this website.

(Items with * require FIGT member log-in.)

From this month's social media

  • Resources on “Multilingualism” (Rita Rosenback)
  • Interview videos*
    • Multilingual Families on the Move (Rita Rosenback and Ute Limacher-Riebold)
    • Multilingualism and Development (Erin Long)
    • Learning New Languages as an Adult - the Joys and Challenges

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