There are many websites supporting families raising bilingual children nowadays. Some support specific languages and cultures while others support parents in general with sections that focus on bilingualism. However, when we first started ours at the end of 2002, there was nothing. You could find a page or two of information and a few listservs, but that was about it.
We called our first website, and our weekly parenting group, the Bilingual/Bicultural Family Network and were all about sharing knowledge, research, information and support with one another. We barely stayed afloat financially (and, as you can see, still barely do) but we didn’t worry about it because researchers, parents and experts were contacting us, letting us know how excited they were to find us and asking us how they could support our efforts. Their enthusiasm was contagious and what started was nothing short of a mini multilingual parenting revolution! Remember that all of this was happening long before Facebook, Twitter and wordpress. It was also long before the media frenzy about benefits of bilingualism (and the blogging and business world that has since jumped on the bandwagon!).
It was during our digital publication, Multilingual Living Magazine, that Alice Lapuerta, our fantastic editor, got into contact with an amazing woman named Madalena Cruz-Ferreira. She was a multilingual expert and mother filled with knowledge, wisdom, experience and kindness. You will know this wonderful woman as our beloved Ask Madalena expert on Multilingual Living and the face behind Ask An Expert in Multilingual Living Magazine! Yes, she has been with us for that long!
Madalena wrote many articles for Multilingual Living Magazine and is most known for her witty and poignant series titled “Funny-lingualism,” where she focused on the silly myths and labels that surround multilingualism! She dispelled each with humor, wit and facts, providing the reader with a feast of thoughtful enjoyment.
Here is the introductory paragraph to her “Funny-lingualism” series:
This column discusses the rationale for a proposal. I propose to change six different labels which have been used to describe multilingualism to the single label funny-lingualism. The reason is that these labels, in my view, are used in very funny ways indeed.
(You can still read all of Madalena’s articles, as well as her Ask An Expert series, in the back issues of Multilingual Living Magazine.)
As you already know, Madalena is a linguist who practices what she preaches: she is an expert in multilingual research while at the same time knows the trials and joys of raising multilingual children personally. Just because research says one thing doesn’t mean that putting it into practice is doable or even reasonable. Madalena’s advice is sound in that it is encouraging as well as realistic.
The End of an Era
After working together for many years, Madalena is stepping down from her role as Ask Madalena. I am sad to say that we will no longer be able to share her wisdom and guidance every month via Multilingual Living. For me personally, she has been a touchstone. I have turned to her many times to ask her expert opinion or to share some wonderful news about multilingualism. Her answers have given me as much support and inspiration as they have you.
Yet, as sad as it is to say good-bye, I am delighted to know that Madalena will continue supporting and encouraging multilingualism throughout the world as she has done all of these years. Being that her articles appear continually throughout cyberspace at her own website, Being Multilingual, as well as other top-notch websites, I have no doubt that we will continue to benefit from her wealth of knowledge for a long time!
Thank You, Madalena!
Everything that Madalena has done for Multilingual Living (and it is a lot!) has been done completely on a volunteer basis for the good of the multilingual community. She has never asked for payment and has even refused payment when it was offered, knowing that Multilingual Living barely gets by on its shoestring budget.
Madalena has done what she has done purely from the devotion that she has to Multilingual Living and multilingualism as a whole.
Being that Madalena is so very generous, it will most likely not surprise you to find out that the proceeds and her royalties of her recent book, Multilinguals Are…, go to Yuti, a trilingual children’s magazine in Sinhala, Tamil and English, which is distributed three times a year, free of charge, to Sri Lankan children aged 8 to 14. Isn’t that fantastic!
Thus, as a thank you to Madalena, Multilingual Living is delighted to announce that we will be purchasing 10 copies of Multilinguals Are… and will be giving them away to Multilingual Living readers – one book each week over the course of 10 weeks.
We hope that you will help us spread the word about this giveaway! We would love for others to learn about Multilinguals Are… and the generosity that Madalena has shown to all of us. It is the very least we can do to say:
“Thank you, Madalena, for everything you have done and continue to do!”
In the meantime, we will continue to publish the Ask Madalena posts that Madalena already answered over the course of the year and we will begin thinking about where the future of our Ask An Expert series will go. Let us know if you have any suggestions!
THANK YOU for everything, Madalena! We couldn’t have done it without you!