I have recently come in contact with a number of multi-cultural families where the parents are from different countries, with different primary languages. I’m fascinated by the way most of these families are raising their children, with each parent talking to their children mostly in their native tongue.
Kids are such sponges who easily learn to converse in multiple languages without any difficulty. It is such an extraordinary gift that these parents are giving their children! The opportunity for these kids to fluently speak several languages and therefore converse with members of family from both sides of the family is incredible. It also allows them to understand and appreciate the diversity of cultures and get first hand experience of how beautifully they can be integrated without racial divide.
My eldest daughter is travelling to Spain for a few weeks this year and we are having a Spanish girl come stay with us in return. The Spanish girl speaks fluent English, however her parents don’t speak a word. I have bought ‘Spanish for dummies’ so our daughter (and the rest of the family) can try to learn some rudimentary Spanish, however trying to learn and recall a new language later in life is a difficult and arduous task.
When you consider toddlers have to learn new language just to converse, it really makes sense to teach them multiple languages at that point, so the language becomes second nature. I do believe however, that to speak a language fluently you need to have someone to converse with on a regular basis, which is where a multi-cultural family really comes into its own. As with anything in life, you need to use it or you lose it!
(Photo courtesy of Boians Cho Joo Young, freedigitalphotos.net)