These last eleven weeks we have benefited from the wisdom, knowledge and personal experiences of Prof. Emeritus François Grosjean, author of Bilingual: Life and Reality, in the eleven-part series: Ask François Grosjean. (You can access all eleven Q&A at the bottom of this post as well as a link to Prof. Grosjean’s website page.)
I sent Prof. Grosjean each of your comments and he took the time to write a response to your questions, concerns, observations and insights. Thank you François Grosjean!
Over the last two months or so, many of you have read my responses to the questions asked by Corey concerning topics that you, as parents and caretakers of bilingual children, are interested in.
Corey has very kindly sent me your comments and I have read them carefully. Instead of responding to each one individually (many have received reactions from other readers as well as from Corey), I would like to make just a few points.
First, what feels right linguistically in a family is often right for that particular family. Thus, the balance of the languages in the family, the bilingual approach used by parents, the use of code-switching or not, etc., is very much the choice of each family. There isn’t just one way of doing things, and even less so, one truth. Advice given by others has to be adapted to the family in question.
This said, if at times moments of linguistic frustration outweigh moments of linguistic happiness, then it is important that parents and caretakers take some action such as readjusting the importance, and the role, of the languages in the family.
Second, parents and caretakers need to be aware of the myths that surround bilingualism and biculturalism (see such a list, for example, on my website: www.francoisgrosjean.ch) so as to be informed and ultimately feel reassured. In addition, it will allow them to comprehend, and sometimes even counter, the opinion of others such as family members, friends, or even some professionals such as pediatricians, language pathologists, and so on.
Third, as stated in one of my answers, the bilingualism of children should be a source of joy, both for parents and children, even if there are occasional moments of difficulty. To counter the latter, it is crucial that everyone – parents, caretakers, children – receive encouragement and assistance.
Coming to a website such as this one, reading an article or a book on bilingualism, and asking the advice of other parents also raising bilingual children are some of the ways to solve the language difficulties that may arise. And as for bilingual children and adolescents, it is important that through family interaction, they be allowed to talk about what it means to be bilingual and bicultural and to express many of the joys, but also some of the difficulties, they are feeling.
You, the readers of Multilingual Living are clearly among the caring and informed adults that I thought about when writing the conclusion to my recent book, Bilingual: Life and Reality. You are accompanying your children consciously on their linguistic journey, and you are easing their passage from one stage of bilingualism to the next.
Thanks to you, as adolescents and then adults (all too soon, believe me!), they will be proud of the languages and the cultures that you have given them.
All Ask François Grosjean Q&A in the series:
- The first in the series is Ask François Grosjean: Are My Bilingual Children Getting Enough Exposure?
- The second in the series is Ask François Grosjean: What is the best method for helping children become bilingual?
- The third in the series is Ask François Grosjean: Can I Change From One Language Or Method To Another?
- The fourth in the series is Ask François Grosjean: What Does Research Say About the Benefits of Multilingualism?
- The fifth in the series is Ask François Grosjean: Is It OK for Parents to Raise Bilingual Children in a Non-Native Language?
- The sixth in the series is Ask François Grosjean: What are the golden rules that bilingual families should follow?
- The seventh in the series is Ask François Grosjean: Is just a little bit of language exposure with a bilingual child worth it?
- The eighth in the series is Ask François Grosjean: What About More Than Two Languages in a Multilingual Family?
- The ninth in the series is Ask François Grosjean: What Happens When Bilingual Children Start Going to School in the Community Language?
- The tenth in the series is What Should Parents Do When Their Bilingual Child Has Been Diagnosed With a Language Disorder?
- The eleventh, and final, in the series is Ask François Grosjean: How Can I Help My Bilingual Children Become Bicultural?
We highly recommend that you visit François Grosjean’s website at www.francoisgrosjean.ch to learn more about raising children in more than one language and culture!