Multilingual Living’s Week in Review: March 27

by Corey · 3 comments

This is a review of the articles, Tweets, Facebook posts and more which went out this week in and around our Multilingual Living universe. Thank you everyone for sharing your tips, tweets, emails and more with me! Were it not for you, this post wouldn’t even be here!

A Different Form of Bilingualism
We almost always think of speech when we think of bilingualism. But there is another form which Prof. Grosjean discusses in his Psychology Today post. We also include an excellent article about this by Prof. Grosjean in Multilingual Living Magazine.

Make sure to also read the BBC article: Deaf people’s ‘beautiful finger-signing’ recorded. This lovely language is being preserved via video recording. So wonderful!

Will Bilingualism Save Us Or Will It Ruin Us?
Ah, the media! Newspapers, television, magazines, blogs, books they all want to catch our attention with overblown headlines. There is nothing wrong with a good headline but we need to be careful.

This week there was a great discussion on the Multilingual Living Facebook page around the following two headlines:

When I read each of these headlines I just shook my head and sighed. The first title implies “if your child is bilingual then they are going to fail” while the second title implies “if your child is bilingual then you have a genius in your home.” Neither are 100% true. The truth resides somewhere in between and is something closer to: “bilingual children are as diverse, average and normal as monolingual children.”

It is wonderful to read news about the benefits of bilingualism – and there are many! I find it all fascinating, inspiring and simply amazing what we can learn!  But we have to be careful. Just because eating healthy is good for us, it doesn’t mean we will become super-humans. The same is true for bilingualism.

We mustn’t forget the power of social, political, economic, and psychological factors in a child’s life. Whether a child is bilingual or not, these play a very large role in our path through life, probably even more than the nuances of bilingual vs monolingual brain development.

Let’s enjoy the research for the absolutely fascinating information that it provides. And at the same time, let’s savor what it means to be the average, fantastic, amazing multilinguals, just as we are.

Audio Lingua
Check out Audio Lingua, a great website that provides audio clips in different languages! You can choose the difficulty level as well as other categories. Make sure to take note of the audio clip ratings.

How Do You Say It?
There are so many ways to say “I love you”! How do you say it to your children? And in which language? Here is a sampling from the Multilingual Living Facebook page:

  • Aurelie: I used to say Je t aime to my 1st child…by #3 and 10years expat I can say I love you to all my children 🙂
  • Barbara: The Americans probably say more “I love you” to their children than Germans do. Germans rather use hugs and kisses, than words. If I say I love you to the children it’s rather “ich habe dich lieb” than “ich liebe dich”.
  • Nichole:We only speak Maori to each other (my heritage but second language) but my only one sentence to him is “I love you” in the language I was brought up with. It means more to me. The only other time I speak English to him is if I am really irked about something 😛
  • Monia: I say to my children: “Vi voglio tanto bene” and to my husband” “Ti amo”, but they mainly answer back: “We love you too Mamma!

That was just a few of the wonderfully touching and insightful responses. Head over to the Multilingual Living Facebook page to read them all. And while there, please click on the LIKE button at the top to let us know that you like what you see going on there!


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nahid March 30, 2011 at 5:48 am

I say it in English and the reason is that I am coming from a family that did not express their feelings (especially positive feelings) towards children, so I never learned how to say I love you in my native language. It just feels weired.
English is such an open language.


2 Marcela Hede March 30, 2011 at 7:41 am

I don’t now how true is the fact that bilingual children fall behind in school and have lower IQs. We have had the opposite experience.

Our son is in a Gifted and Talented school in NYC where to get in he had to take the OLSAT and Bracken tests to be accepted. The minimum was to have a score that put the child on the 90th percentile and he was well above that.

He was fully raised in Spanish until he was 2 and 1/2 since I was the primary care giver. After that, he English surpassed his Spanish.

He is excelling in school very nicely, and the majority of his classmates know a second language amongst them Chinese, Korean, Spanish, and French. And they are all G&T kids…

I know that research has shown the brain of bilingual children to have more dense gray matter and have advantages in metalinguistic awareness.

So I don’t know how true these articles are…I just know our experience.

Just my two cents.


3 Susanne March 31, 2011 at 5:31 am

To make broad statements about monolingual/bilingual/multiligual kids is as absurd as doing the same based on ethnicity, race or creed or any other easy to attach label!

The educational background, esp of the main carer, in the home and the time he or she spends stimulating young children has far more to do with how well the children do in their early years at school and how well their innate intelligence is developed during their childhood and teens.
The early years in turn often colour their experiences of secondary schooling, many who fail at school are not of lower intelligence, they often do not conform to a rigid education system or have become disillusioned with it.

Also intelligence (to the extent that it can be accurately measured) can be a mixed blessing and doesn’t necessarily make life easier per se, personal attitude towards work/achievement etc is equally important.

My 4 bilingual children are all classed as G&T (and I would bet that many parents who read this can say the same, purely because they are the kind of people who care about their children and have access to the necessary technology to read up about how bilingualism might affect their offspring) they have no problems at school to do very well without ever having to put very much work into their subjects. However, one is completely switched off (this started in her second year at primary school!) and does what she has to and no more as she hates waiting if things have to be explained twice and then spends the rest of that lesson drawing or staring out of the window. She’s tested to be in the top centile but will finish school with worse grades than all her sisters because they have a better attitude and seem to get more enjoyment out of the mental stimulation a school setting provides.

So trust your own instincts: if you’re committed enough to read up on the subject on this website chances are that YOUR child/ren will do better, develop some extra brain capacity and (at least equally importantly!) gain some insight into a different culture with its history, values etc which monolingual children will only get access to through travel and living abroad when they are adults.


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