We are delighted to have the opportunity to share an excerpt from the wonderful new book Language Strategies for Trilingual Families: Parents’ Perspectives by Andreas Braun and Tony Cline! This book is part of the fantastic Parents’ and Teachers’ Guides published by Multilingual Matters. We recommend that you browse the series for additional books of interest to bilingual and multilingual families.
This book is true to its title in that it will help trilingual families finds their own specific language strategies, which will help families manage both their day-to-day language rhythm as well as ideas for how to keep trilingualism alive in their homes for the long-term. This is essential!
We hope you will enjoy this excerpt from Language Strategies for Trilingual Families: Parents’ Perspectives. You can find it at Multilingual Matters if you are interested in purchasing a copy for yourself or a trilingual family who could put it to good use.
When children grow up in circumstances where the people around them can speak three or more languages, their parents face a question that they may not be prepared for: how can the children be helped to make the most of their complex heritage of languages and cultures that are available to them? Recent literature on multilingualism, including our own research on parents from many language backgrounds, showed that there is no “one size fits all” approach for trilingual families. This book draws systematically on 70 research interviews with trilingual families in England and Germany and on over 300 emails and forum messages from parents across the world. It highlights the challenges that face trilingual families with children who live in mainly monolingual societies.
We take into account the recent emergence of a “New Trilingualism” among mobile educated parents who find themselves in trilingual families because of global trends in migration. In the world today, with increasing globalisation, many people move, work, live and marry across borders. Therefore, more children are born to parents who, between them speak two or three languages or even more. This has created new forms of trilingualism and with it new linguistic and cultural challenges for parents who have different nationalities and native languages.
Much of what has been written about trilingualism has drawn on concepts that were developed in the study of bilingualism. But, while there are some overlaps, the ways in which languages and cultural traditions interact in trilingual families are more complex. Because there are more languages involved, language maintenance is more difficult, and the situation as a whole is more challenging. Three languages cannot be as balanced and equal as two languages. The risk of under-developing or under-using one, two or even all three languages is high. So there is a growing demand for information and advice on trilingualism and multilingualism from parents who feel that what they read and are told about bilingualism does not fully answer the questions they have about the development of their own children.
This book intends to enable parents in potentially trilingual families to consider possible language strategies on the basis of analysing their individual circumstances. It includes a tool for diagnostic self-analysis that will help each reader to identify their situation and learn how parents in similar situations have approached the task of supporting their children’s use of languages. Many parents will want to pass on all the languages in their repertoire to their children, but some will not. We will discuss the reasons that are given for different choices and enable readers to evaluate the options for themselves. Thus the book addresses five broad topics:
• Language competence and choice for different groups of trilingual families
• Language maintenance strategies
• Languages at school, including English as a foreign language
• Languages and the extended family
• Languages and cultures
We would like to thank the publishers of Language Strategies for Trilingual Families: Parents’ Perspectives for this excerpt from their book. For more information about this book, head to the Multilingual Matters site: