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Soile, summer 2016

Bilingual Potential Blog

Series 1: Parent Q&A 2016

At the time of writing it is the first of September 2016 and I am starting the blog with a Q&A series. Earlier this summer I asked parents from a few Facebook forums to send questions about bilingualism. In this first series I post answers to these questions. 

What kind of questions did parents ask?

Age wise all the questions were about children under the age of 10. The most numerous questions were about babies and how to put in place bilingual family communication routines. The second most common group were parents of 2 to 4-year-olds asking about the very common situation where children have not started to speak one language or have stopped speaking one language.

I am glad I got some questions regarding primary school children with questions on the impact of school on spoken language as well as how to help children learn to read and write in two languages. 

Many questions came from families with more than two languages. In many cases family members had migrated between different parts of the world over several generations resulting in complex multilingual and multicultural heritage.

There were questions about language delay in bilingual children, about language mixing by parents and about establishing parent-child talk with a newborn baby. 

What kind of answers will I provide?

My answers may sometimes be very different from advice you have read elsewhere. I am a sociologist. That means I am interested in how societies work and how people live together in everyday life. For over 20 years I have been observing, studying and researching bilingual and trilingual family life.

In my advice I draw on the vast body of bilingualism research from linguistics, sociolinguistics, psychology, neurology and education, as well as from a range of sociology literature. Much of my advice is informed by my own research into sociology of bilingual family life and my long experience of community work.

There is one more influence on my advice: my personal experience of being trilingual and of raising two trilingual teenagers with my bilingual husband. 

Thank you for the interesting questions that cover many very common situations and some more rare ones too. Lets begin.