By Alice Lapuerta
Photo Credit: Mykl Roventine
I don’t like numbers. I have no talent for Math and computation. I just don’t have that numbers gene. Never had, never will.
But that’s fine with me! Languages and words are a lot more fun anyway and I collect them like pebbles on the beach. I guess I must have a talent for multilingualism. It was with this conviction that I had walked happily through life.
Until I became a mother.
This is when the craziness started. All of a sudden we began juggling three languages simultaneously in our household. Things didn’t go as smoothly as I thought they would, at first. And I began to question certain things that I had hitherto taken for granted.
Also the issue of: are we really born with a talent for languages? Do we really have a numbers gene versus a language gene? Or isn’t it really me who determines that? Why is it either/or? And is it nature or nurture?
What triggered the whole debate for me was that several people within a short time frame, completely independent of each other, mentioned that “some kids have an easier time acquiring two or more languages because they have more talent.”
Since one of those people was a professional, a Speech Therapist, who went as far as hinting, rather obviously, that my daughter might not be a member of that prestigious group, I spent a considerable amount of very serious thinking on the topic of aptitude, talent and multilingualism.
In retrospect, this seems a highly absurd statement to make with reference to my daughter, if one considers that she now speaks three languages fluently, and is starting to show an interest in a fourth! But back then, worried and paranoid parent of a first-born child that I was, I admit that I actually thought about whether there might be some truth to that statement.
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