We have already talked about teaching children another language and raising them bilingual but today I would like to draw your attention to this interesting story about a mother who is determined to teach her son Cantonese, in spite of the fact that she does not speak it fluently.
There have been many debates on whether or not a parent can teach a language to their child that is not their native tongue, especially, if they do not speak it at an advanced level. The simple answer to this dilemma is yes, they can. However, they have to be consistent, confident and seek help when needed from native speakers or simply expose the child to an environment where they can practice the second language in a fun and natural way.
I think it is very important that children learn the languages of the parents first and foremost, then they venture into a second, third or even fourth language, because knowing the native tongues of the parents creates a cultural connection, helps establish an identity, and last but not least, they will have no problem communicating with relatives when visiting the home country. Of course, learning the additional languages can happen parallely with the first language acquisition but it is always a good idea to associate the new language with a particular activity and/or person, use it always in a conext and not simply when we remember to do it. And remember, even if you don’t speak the new language fluently, don’t worry, you can learn together with your child and create a very special and fun experience with them that will last a lifetime.
Nowadays, it is popular to talk about what the language of the world will be in five, ten, fifty years, but only few realize that while some languages become more widely spoken, many others go extinct. There are over six thousand languages spoken around the world and this number is quickly declining as the speakers of the endangered languages shift to the more dominant ones. The reason for the disappearance of these languages is rather complex but one of the most obvious explanations is globalization, more particularly, the vanishing need of local expressions and the increasing demand for intercultural communication.
However, we have to remember that these “local expressions” don’t necessarily mean the tribal word for “sitting”, for example, but that very specific lexicon describing the flore, fauna, traditions and culture that cannot be found in any other language. As per this article, “when languages die, ecosystems often die with them”. Please take a moment to read and listen to this very interesting piece on the relationship between languages and environment.
- Kornelia Lasluisa
How much of our communication is actually our language skill? Can we correctly communicate our feelings and thoughts with just words? As neuroscientists have learned in recent years from studying brain scans, language processing seems to be a complex process that involves multiple pieces of our brain machinery, most of which are exclusively devoted to that task. Just because of being unfamiliar with the language, does not make us completely paralyzed in communicating or understanding emotions and thoughts. All the same, just because we are fluent in the language does not automatically make us good communicators. When we converse with a person, different parts of our brain is working harmoniously to understand and interpret meanings observing and listening as we communicate. Amazing things are happening in our brain, which is equipped with a special speech detecting and decoding mechanism so finely sensitive that it’s able to separate words from other sorts of sounds, at the same time other parts of our brain also has the ability to utilize visual information and body language to decipher spoken communication—or even to use it as a substitute.
Take the Language Challenge from Brain Games, a popular National Geographic channel show, dissecting all things language and communication from our brain's viewpoint.
Team of Hansa One Directors, Trainers and Instructors sharing experiences and interests on all things cultures and languages.