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  • Writer's pictureHLE Network

Caregivers and communities need public support to raise their children bilingually

May 2, 2022


In case you had any doubt: Caregivers and communities need public support to raise their children bilingually. Also, children learning heritage languages often require extra support.

These are the findings of Laia Fibla, Jessica E. Kosie, Ruth Kircher, Casey Lew-Williams, and and Krista Byers-Heinlein – researchers at Concordia University, Princeton University, and Mercator European Research Centre on Multilingualism and Language Learning. Their recent scientific article in Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences outlines six main implications for policy, which are also summarized in the pinwheel below. (In the pinwheel image, we highlighted in blue two implications especially relevant for the work of HLE Network.)

What is their advice? Caregivers – and communities more broadly – need to be empowered to raise children with multiple languages from infancy if they so desire. Also, it can be challenging for children to gain sufficient high-quality experiences in languages that are spoken less widely in the community, such as immigrant heritage languages. They suggest that multilingual community libraries can help.

Targeted playtimes or story times in cultural centres and public libraries help support social networks among families that share the same language(s). Those institutions can provide useful resources, such as children’s books in different languages and in bilingual formats.

The advice of this team of researchers is to spread the word about the long-term, positive outcomes of transmitting heritage languages. Through HLE Network's activities, that is exactly what we do!


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