When parents ask me whether they really need a plan when raising their children with multiple languages, I ask them how serious they are about it. Don't get me wrong: one can be serious about it and succeed without any plan – I was raised this way. My parents didn't know what they were doing. They just started something and it happened to work out. But it wasn't straight forward, there were many bumps on the road and I know that surely 60% of them could have been avoided if some goals were set and agreed on.
So, one of my following questions for parents is then what makes them NOT to want to set clear goals and agree on the most important steps to take as parents and as a family.
We plan so many things in life!
Why would we leave our children's growing up with multiple languages and cultures to chance?
"A goal without a plan is just a wish"
~ Antoine de Saint Exupéry
There are enough unforeseen situations even when we have a plan – we all know that.
Fact is that with a plan we can raise our children with multiple languages in a more effective way. We can get informed and updated about the options we have. We can be a step ahead, think ahead and act proactively instead of repairing situations...
I help you keep informed and proactive during your multilingual journey.
No matter where you are on your and your children's multilingual journey.
It is not important WHEN we start. It is important THAT we start.
Why should you get my help with this?
I know how it feels, what the pros and cons are, what strategies to adopt, what research says, and how reality looks and feels like...
I grew up with multiple languages myself and at several stages of my language acquisition and learning journey I could have benefited from specific support – from parents, teachers and the community.
It would have helped me to not waste time and energy in finding ways to maintain my languages and cultures. When I felt the only one using my language and knowing about one of my cultures, I was close to give up and shift to the one of my host country. Go "full immersion" with a complete adaptation that would lead me to neglect my home language and culture.
I found ways to foster my languages and cultures even if there were not many others to share them with. Motivation to set clear goals did the trick, and a great dose of curiosity and pride!
"Isn't it enough if we speak our languages with our children?"
Yes, it can – or not.
Our language use shifts and changes throughout the years, also depending on where we live, what we use them for, and with whom we use them.
My children grew up with multiple languages too, and they are all three fluent in 3 languages (speak, read and write them), they also speak and read other 3 languages to different levels of fluency, and they keep adding new languages to their repertoire.
Someone told me that I planted the seed of multilingualism in them. I guess they are right.
My children experience the advantages of being multilingual, how this helps in everyday life, when visiting other countries, connecting with people all over the world, when reading and learning about topics they are interested in, when looking for jobs etc.
Like myself, they noticed that they understand other languages much easier thanks to the broad and diverse language baseline they have acquired.
I know what research says on this matter, and I keep informed about latest research and practices (check out our interviews with experts on Raising Multilinguals LIVE).
Furthermore, I have more than 35 years of experience with supporting families raise their children with multiple languages and cultures successfully.
What they all have in common is that they knew what they were (and are!) doing and therefore always one or two steps ahead, and they know what decisions and actions are necessary:
Parenting multilingual children has become a task that is largely understood as an investment into securing the child's future, where language planning issues add yet another dimension to parental anxieties.
(Ingrid Piller, Livia Gerber, Family Language policy between the bilingual advantage and the monolingual mindset, International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 2018, p.3)
Language planning does not need to become a reason for anxiety!
As a linguist, trained in multilingualism, language acquisition, psycholinguistics, historical linguistics, contact linguistics.
I am also an intercultural communication expert, and speech and language specialist.
I help multilingual families foster their home languages in the most effective way, and balance – or juggle! – all their languages in order to support their children become multi-literate (i.e. understand, speak, read and write in multiple languages).
I design a tailored S.M.A.R.T. Family Language Plan© for individual families to work with.
This plan takes into account the:
- realistic short and long term language goals for all the family languages
- language fluencies of all family members
- amount of time every (!) family member can dedicate to each language
- resources the family needs to foster the language skills
- readiness of the children to acquire and learn the languages
- readiness of the parents to maintain and foster their languages and new ones
- changes that happens within the family and the community that can affect language acquisition and learning
- other cultural factors that play a role in transmitting and teaching languages at home
My advice is based on scientific findings, best practices and experience
I also offer support to multilingual families whose children are receiving speech and language therapy or any other kind of learning support at school.
I accompany them through the different stages of their children’s language development.
For this, I work closely with the therapist or other professional in order to guarantee the best support for the whole family.
If you would like me to design a tailored
S.M.A.R.T. Family Language Plan© for your family,
book a consultation with me.
Why a Family Language Plan?
Warum ein Sprachen-Plan für Familien?
A cosa serve una pianificazione linguistica per la famiglia?
À quoi bon un plan des langues pour la famille?
Prof. Elizabeth Lanza's answer /Antwort/ risposta/ réponse
- A family is a community of practice (Elizabeth Lanza, 2007) with its own norms for language use and which has its own ways of speaking, acting and believing (p. 47).
- It is important to focus on interactional processes through which the family realizes, negotiates and modifies its FLP in face-to-face interaction (Fishman 1991)
- Furthermore, the children's agency, their attitudes and involvement in the language acquisition and learning process is crucial (Mila Schwartz) for a successful and effective language acquisition and learning experience.
Mila Schwartz, Anna Verschik, 2014, Achieving Success in Family Language Policy: Parents, Children and Educators in Interaction, in: Successful Family Language Policy, Multilingual Education vol. 6, 1-2.
Elizabeth Lanza, 2007, Multilingualism in the family, in: Handbook of multilingualism and multilingual communication, ed. A. Peter and W. Li, 45–67. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
As a linguist and language expert specialized in bilingualism, multilingualism and language acquisition, I help multilingual families with all their languages.
I offer a tailored S.M.A.R.T. Family Language Plan© that considers each family members needs and levels of fluency, and that the family can use for orientation.
My support consists in professional advice based on scientific findings, successful methods and personal experience.
Als Linguistin und Sprachexpertin, spezialisiert in Zwei- und Mehrsprachigkeit sowie Spracherwerb, helfe ich mehrsprachigen Familien mit all ihren Sprachen.
Ich biete einen persönlichen und auf die Familie zugeschnitten Sprachen-Plan an, anhand dessen die Familie sich orientieren kann.
Zudem stehe ich mit professionellem Rat beiseite, der auf wissenschaftlichen Erkenntnissen, erfolgreichen Methoden und persönlichen Erfahrungen beruht.
In quanto linguista specializzata in bilinguismo (e multilinguismo) e acquisizione del linguaggio, aiuto famiglie espatriate e multilingue con la pianificazione linguistica.
Offro un piano linguistico personalizzato che serve da orientamento.
Aiuto le famiglie a trovare soluzioni che permettono di mantenere le lingue in famiglia qualora la scuola e / o la società non garantiscano il desiderato supporto.
Nel mio approccio mi baso sui più recenti dati scientifici, metodi di successo ed esperienze personali.
En tant que linguiste, experte en bilinguisme (et multilinguisme), autant que acquisition et apprentissage des langues, j'aide les familles expatriées qui parlent plusieurs langues. Mon plan des langues personnalisé, aide à focaliser sur les langues les plus importantes pour la famille (et les enfants) et il considère les besoins de chaque membre de la famille; par exemple, si les enfants doivent acquérir une certaine compétence dans une langue étrangère et on veut qu'ils ne perdent pas les autres langues qu'ils ont déjà acquis, si un enfant ne répond pas dans la langue cible etc.
Avec mon Plan des Langues personnalisé j’aide les familles à trouver une solution qui leur permet de maintenir les langues lorsque les écoles ou la société ne garantissent pas le support désiré.
Mon approche se base sur les recherches les plus récentes, méthodes de succès et expériences personnelles.