Twice this week I have come across native parents living in the big smoke who have not transferred their mother tongue to their children. I had thought it was criminal, so many of us are trying our hardest taking lessons, struggling with conjugations through secondary and so forth and wishing we could just install a language app into our brain. But here were people who could impart the gifts of social, cognitive and linguistic benefits of being bilingual but hadn’t. Why not?
The answers to this question are endless. Last night I attended a Multingual London conference at Queen Mary university and heard how some linguists and multilingual therapists had come across people who had been tortured or traumatised in their mother tongue and had not wished to speak the language again. This is the extreme end, but there are a whole host of reasons (assimilation, embarrassment, wishing to fit in, that rebellion stage when the kids reply back in the majority language) to name a few.., it is really complex. I guess we have to respect each others wishes and do what is right for your family.
Multilingual London Initiative Queen Mary University
I ended up having a conversation with one mother by chance we started talking about bilingualism, I did not realise she was anything other than English. As she overheard me speaking to my children in my non native spanish she then disclosed her heritage language and the reasons why she did not pass it to her children. To conclude every household is different. Every household will have different priorities, lets not judge, lets embrace being in a wonderful diverse capital where we can have the opportunity to learn and teach many different languages and hear them being spoken in the community! My great grandparents made the choice that they would leave their native spanish speaking countries and travel for work and then assimilate into the culture and not transfer their heritage language. I guess each family has a different reason and motivation.
Mine is and will be to ensure that my children have a sound grounding in at least one other language. Being married to a monolingual means I will have to double my efforts, offer incentives and ensure we continue our playdates
My aim is to ensure that everyone have the tools to transfer the social, cognitive and linguistic benefits of learning another language or imparting the roots of bilingualism through fun fun fun.
Some articles that may help..