We live in a world where those who try to create divisions between people of different countries, creeds and cultures are getting more and more vocal and who try to disrupt the stability in way that leads to discrimination, abuse, displacement of families, fear and even to devastating loss of lives.
As a parent and a grandparent, I feel that as adults it is our responsibility to do our utmost to leave our world in a safe state for generations to be. As a parent who has raised two bilingual daughters, I firmly believe that as multilingual families we are a strong force for unity and that we can counteract the divisive trends that are rife all across the world.
Speaking more than one language makes you more open-minded
Research has shown that bilinguals are on average more open-minded than those who speak only one language. When you learn more than one language, you also learn that one thing can have more than one name. You know that words for the same thing can have a slightly different meaning in different languages and through this you learn that people can look at the same thing and see something different. You learn to put yourself in another person’s shoes. When you do this, it often leads to a more tolerant and understanding life view. Tolerance and understanding is exactly what we need more of today.
Multilingual families are often multicultural
Language and culture are intrinsically linked – when you combine many languages in a family, usually you also end up combining many cultures. Multicultural families can be positive role models for celebrating diversity and showing the rest of the community the way to live together and making diversity the new normal.
Bridge-building – that’s what multilingual families do
In a family where more than one language is spoken, there are always compromises to be made – who speaks what with whom and when? Sometimes not everyone understands what is said during certain discussions – this does however not stop the family from feeling as one strong unity. Children growing up in such an environment learn to take each other into consideration and appreciate the importance of finding those all-important compromises. Add to that the language skills of the children and you have the making of a future global citizen.
More than half of the world’s population is bilingual
As bilinguals, we are in the majority in the world – we can use this position to spread the message of tolerance and understanding around us. None of us can do this on our own, but together we can be a true positive force to be reckoned with.
Keep speaking your languages and pass them on to your children – together we can build a better world for them.