21 February – international mother language day. We decided to use this date as an occasion to talk about children who have two native languages or more.
So, is it easy in our days to be bilingual, polylingual or even polyglot? It is no secret that in a multicultural Europe is difficult today to find a country where children would grow exclusively in monolingual environment. And when it comes to bi – or PoliLingua, we are no longer referring exclusively to Switzerland or Belgium. In search of competent answers to our questions, we turned to the German and Austrian professors specializing in the study of the phenomenon of multilingualism in all its manifestations and possession of information about current research conducted around the world.
Two native languages – it’s cool!
All interviewed scientists clearly agreed that the bilingualism or multilingualism from birth is, of course, a chance in life, and not an obstacle. And it’s not only about how well a child speaks a particular language. Says a Professor at the University of Salzburg Tanya Angelovski (Tanja Angelovska), “to communicate with and bilingual children in their native language – this is the priceless gift that parents can give them. It is not necessary to talk to kids in German, if he does not own you just because you think grades in school, the child will be better. Depriving the child the opportunity to communicate with you in your native language, you interfere with his cognitive development. No language course then you will not be able to compensate for this lost gift, which parents are not worth a dime”.
According to Professor Carskogo University Claudia Polzin-human (Claudia Polzin-Haumann), much in a child’s life depends on with whom and to what extent he communicates in a particular language, and how it is perceived multilingualism his entourage: “it’s One thing when both parents speak the same language, and outside of the parental home all the people say to each other. And another, when each parent speaks their native language and only one of these languages coincides with the language of communication outside the home”.
It also happens that the mother speaks one language, dad the other, and all around – on the third. “And it is very important to provide the child with psychological comfort in communicating in his native language, – said the Professor Polzin-human. – According to surveys, the bilingual, speaking German and English, or German and French, in German society in General are different than to someone who speaks German and Turkish, for example. Although even if we consider all the components of several of the native languages is still always an advantage.”
What should parents do bilinguals?
Scientists suggest that in order to not lose the advantage on the road from home to kindergarten or school, parents should not bring the situation to the point of absurdity and try to teach the native grammar of the two-year kid. But you need to provide the child the opportunity to communicate in the language with different people, need not only to speak but also to read the language to watch cartoons in a language is to engage in this process as much as possible information sources.
According to Professor Carskogo University Claudia Polzin-human, “it’s very important to have patience, because in certain situations the child will mix the languages and perhaps slower to react to things than expected of him. It’s okay! The main thing is to stay consistent and by speaking only one language, because the child needs stability in dealing with an adult”.
Bilingualism good for the brain
One hundred percent until it was a proven fact that people speaking several languages, later others sick, such as dementia. However, brain training, according to scientists, akin to the muscle. Man, my whole life involved in sports for health promotion, and in old age to be physically stronger than their unsporting peers. Same with the brain: it makes sense to train, and not after 70, but always. And have children who speak two languages or more, such training is “inscribed” in life schedule already from birth.
According to Professor Alpine-Adriatic University of Klagenfurt Ursula Doleschal (Ursula Doleschal), “the main advantage of bilinguals is their receptivity to knowledge as such. At the same time to learn the language and to wield it at the same level as the people for whom this language is native, it is possible. On the other hand, it is important to define what we mean by “possession” language: the ability to speak on simple themes, or the ability to write literary texts stylistically correctly drawn up proposals? Anyway, but if you have the opportunity from birth to communicate in two or more languages, it is necessary to use”.
Professor Tanya Angelovski sure that in the case of bilinguals, it is generally assumed their advantages in relation to other children and that the assertion that one language always “suffering”, are not scientifically justified: “the York University Professor Ellen Bialystok has 40 years of experience in the study of the advantages and disadvantages of bilingualism. She and her staff came to the conclusion that their vocabulary children who regularly use more than one language, only slightly inferior to children who owns only one language, and the ability to learn new skills, even ahead monolingual. The child’s vocabulary-bilingual in each languages, which he owns, is only slightly poorer than vocabulary monolingual child in one language.”
“Bilinguals sometimes it takes more time to “pick up” the word, but just the load on the brain and lead to cognitive advantages over children who speak the same language, points Angelovska. – Many studies have shown that bilinguals are better and faster absorption of new knowledge, whether it be another foreign language or mathematics. Therefore, it is commendable that the parents will use every opportunity to provide the child with communication in different languages”.
Other aspects of the lives and characteristics of children and adults, multilingual, we will write next time.