In person training about Language Consulting for Multilingual Families

I recently held a 3 days in-person training about “Language Consulting for Multilingual Families” for a team of experts from Iceland that supports newly arrived families and multilingual families in general.

Iceland being a very language-friendly and welcoming country, the amazing support system for foreigners tends to create a unique situation where the local language is at risk of loosing its rightful position.

The first day we focused on what parents should know when raising children with multiple languages.

There are many misconceptions, fears and also experiences parents base their decisions on, whether and how to transmit their own and support local languages. Knowing what the expectations of parents are and how they can be met whilst guiding them through transition and towards integration or transmutation, requires in depth knowledge and some coaching skills.

Furthermore I shared what my work as Language Consultant for Multilingual Families consists in, what my approach is and how I guide and support families with their multiple languages.

On the second day we focused on how teachers and educators can help multilingual families. Again, the families’ cultural background, their expectations and individual possibilities vary to a great extent and there is not one solution that fits all. Furthermore, teachers need to keep up to date with new and effective practices, whilst receiving support that often times goes beyond teaching the curriculum.

We also talked about what health practitioners, mainly general practitioners, pediatricians and speech and language therapists need to know about multilingualism. It is still a general assumption that multilingual children have some speech delay or experience issues with speech, whereas more serious issues related with language development are often not considered or assumed to be related with the “many languages the child is dealing with”.

During the whole training we not only talked about languages, but also about cultures. Multilingual families transmit also their cultures, the values, beliefs and habits, that are not always easy to maintain over a long period of time. Furthermore, children who grow up abroad create an “interstitial culture” where they thrive, whilst embracing multiple languages that coexist and, preferably, don’t compete.

On the third day we had the great opportunity to visit the Optimist International School in Hoofddorp, where the participants could see how a Language Friendly School manages to effectively include a great variety of languages into their daily schedule (I will share more details in another post).

If you are interested in knowing more about my tailored trainings, don’t hesitate to contact me or let me know in the comments below.

Some feedback from the participants:

I found this very useful and gave me a lot to think about. Many of the subjects are things we are dealing with in Iceland for example concerning the obligations of parents, the evaluation of children whom are bilingual and have perhaps learning disabilities and etc. I think through out our conversation we need to do much better in Iceland concerning language policy, the co-operation with parents and far most the emphasis on what is suitable time for children to be in ,,welcoming class”.
– Dagbjort A.

Very good training, most of which will affect my work and focus. It has confirmed that what I do is likely to help and support multilingual children and their families.

– Sigrún Baldursd

My expectations about the training were met in a very positive way. We had lectures/training which included long discussions about raising multilingual children both as parents and members of school staff. We also got a fantastic training and tips from Ute on how to be successful as consultants for multilingual families and schools. Ute recommended further reading and articles as she has a great overview of the issues regarding muItilingualism. I personally improved my knowledge and practical skills for my job and my head is full of new ideas and possibilities. I highly recommend Ute´s training.

– Ragnheiður Valgerður

Great training! High academic level but practical at the same time. My main takeaway is professional empowerment since Ute’s approach resonated with our work. Ute also gave us some really good directions in regards to literature and strategies for reaching key stake holders. My next action is reading, “digesting” the literature and then devising a plan.

– Helga A.

Our training was exceptionally well-organized and adequately accommodated to our team’s focal points. We simply wished to have more time to discuss further but this was probably the main take away, to invite Ute to Iceland and organize more training sessions on more efficient strategies for our work as consultants.

– Kriselle Lou Suson Jonsdottir

Thank you for a very well organized and interesting two day training. As you know it triggered much conversations among our group while we were trying to explain the situation to you but also trying to grasp your information with the aim of applying it.

– Thora S. U.

I liked you training very much. It was great to see your point of view and your experience.

– Oksana Shabatura 

I can not describe how happy I am to be with you and learn from you. Not only because you are such an interesting person with a rich background. Your knowledge and how are you teaching… I’m just amazed!

– Aleksandra

Great training. Well prepaired and thought into the icelandic context. My main takeaway is that we are on the right path. We might have to sharpen some tools in our toolbox but overall it was empowering. Academically helpful as well.
– Helga

My expectations from the training were met. A very interesting and educational look at the training of my parents and education workers, so for me very much needed in my work.
– Magdalena Elísbaet Andrésdóttir

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