Multilingualism – Problem or Benefit?

Nowadays, travelling is a common part of everyday life and for a lot of people it is not unusual to travel thousands of kilometers every working week. The development of opportunities to travel is also partly related to the reduction of the importance of national borders (see EU), and of the conditions for the international migration. Consequently, there are a lot more families these days whose members come from different countries and speak different languages ​​– multilingual families.

The multilingualism is a norm in many families and can be seen as an opportunity to master a foreign language. But what about children in multilingual families? The situation when mother speaks with her relatives in a language different from that of father’s may be a bit confusing for children. This is one of the issues which Pelican deals with as a part of the project work.

At the recent workshop, catered for the needs of multilingual families, we focused on the methodology and practical demonstrations of how to help children learn their parents’ languages. Among other things, we asked the participants what they think about multilingualism and whether they think it is a benefit for children. Responses to this question were similar and the majority of the participants agreed that the opportunity to learn more than one language is definitely an advantage. However, the conditions to use and develop language skills vary in different countries. We assume that with the development of this trend multilingual children will be taken into account also within the educational policies of various countries.

One of the participants of the workshop, Alberto Hernandez, summarized his feelings as follows:

“The benefit is that we have tools to study new methods and encourage our child to feel comfortable whatever language he speaks, either in the family or society.”

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