Why language skills matter – to me, you and our children, and the world

by | Apr 6, 2016 | Being the parent in a multilingual family, Language and bilingualism | 2 comments

Raising Global Citizens At Home

“Why have you chosen to write about bilingual children and languages, surely there are more important things in the world – why don’t you write about how important science is?” – this is a question I once got in a comment. The simple answer is – I believe I know quite a lot about bilingual kids and have been able to help parents and teachers, so this is what I write about. Science is very important, but not my forte, so I leave it to those in the know.

The more I have thought about that question, the more I have realised that there are other reasons as well. I believe that this world needs more people who can speak more than one language. Someone who knows two (or more) languages can act as the bridge between cultures and countries. And boy (and girl!) do we need bridge-builders in this day and age. Okay, I will step down from my soap box, but I hope we agree!

Whether you grow up with more than one language or become fluent in another one later in life, the same thing applies: not only do you learn a new way to communicate, but you get a deeper understanding of another culture. You are no longer just watching a culture through the glasses of a translator, but you are in it, you can participate. You learn that there are more ways than one to look at things – and all of them can be just as right. You become more open-minded and learn to appreciate the wonderful diversity of our common world.

I support all kind of language learning. It will come as no surprise to you that I am a strong proponent of passing on family languages to the next generation. I also take my hat off for monolingual parents that take it on to raise their children bilingual. I think that children should be exposed to other languages at an early age at school – and that they should be introduced to them in a way that engages them and sparks their interest to want to know more and use their language skills.

However, you do not have to be fluent in a language to use it to your advantage when raising your own little global citizens – you can start with a language you do not know at all!

The above is the topic for my presentation which will be part of Multicultural Kid Blogs first ever online summit on Raising Global Citizens at Home. The free summit runs from Monday the 11th to Sunday the 17th of April and you are in for a treat with the line-up of authors, experts, bloggers, educators and parents all sharing their best ideas on how to raise world citizens in your own home and without too much expense.

REGISTER now and you will be receiving daily summit emails with links to videos and resources on the different topics: music, arts & crafts, travel, food, language, books and media. You will also receive a workbook which you can use at home with your kids to help you implement the ideas in your own family.

Raising Global Citizens At Home

See you there!

Never miss a post! Sign up to the Multilingual Parenting newsletter and I will send you a recap of the week’s posts every Sunday. Every second week you will receive a more extensive issue with links to research articles and interesting posts from other writers, as well as handy tips and ideas! Want to read more like this? My book Bringing up a Bilingual Child is available on Amazon and in well-stocked bookshops. Do you have a specific question? You can send it to our team of Family Language Coaches and we will reply in a Q&A (questions are answered in order of arrival). If you are interested in tailor-made family language coaching, please, contact me and I will send you a proposal.


  1. Ivana

    Dear Rita,
    It is with great pleasure that I read every one of your blog entries. I wasn’t brought up bilingual, but throughout education I have become fluent in four languages (and have passive knowledge of two more as well as two “dead” languages); as it happens, I ended up living outside my birth country and have become bilingual through a daily use and switching between my mother tongue and that of my host country. The wealth of knowing several languages have opened many doors (and borders) and made me more adaptable and employable than monolingual co-citizens. Not to mention the beauty of making “foreign” your own…

    This time however, I would like to consult with you on a specific question. I am a mum of soon-to-be five year-old twin boys. My husband and I share a common mother tongue (Serbo-Croatian) and this is what we speak at home; shortly after they turned one, we found a nanny who spoke with them a majority language of our host country (English). The boys have therefore become bilingual. However, they did not speak until two and a half and shortly after they started pre-school in English and so from very early on two of them adopted English as their language of play. They now attend Reception class at primary school and spend a big part of the day in English and when they return home they continue talking to each other in English. Because they play together both at school and at home, and this play is in English, I am worried they will lose their mother tongue gradually. While I don’t want to interfere in their relationship and impose the language that they “have” to use, I am trying gently to suggest that at home we speak Serbo-Croatian and English at school and everywhere else. One of the boys is fine with this and wants to speak with his brother in SC, but his brother ignores him and responds in English, which leaves the first twin frustrated. Are you familiar with experiences of other cases of bilingual twins and do you have any advice about how to preserve mother tongue at home (when one of the twins refuses to speak it with his brother and only uses it with me and my husband, but we don’t spend hours playing Star Wars with him as his twin brother does!)?

    Thank you for your help and keep writing,

    • Rita

      Dear Ivana

      Thank you for your question and for your kind feedback. We now answer indepth questions only through the Q&A section and in the order they arrive. Your query will be featured in the Q&A section on Thursday the 23rd of June. You will find a link to the Q&A on the home page on that day.

      In the meantime, please do not hesitate to send us any further details you would like us to consider when answering your question.

      Due to the high number of questions coming in, I realise there will be a while before you get a response. However, should you be interested in individual family language coaching, please let me know and I will send you some further details about the different options.

      Kind regards,



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