Bilinguals and biculturals of all ages need to be celebrated from time to time. This is a letter to my newborn grandchild who will grow up bilingual and bicultural. Read More
How beautiful! I often struggle with the fact that my children will grow up in a culture so different to my parents and wonder how my children will connect properly with my parents without my parents feeling left out. This is really beautiful. I'm going to email this link to my mother now. Thank you so much.
As someone who speaks a few languages fluently, I tend to see and understand the world differently than those who predominantly speak one language. It can be lonely.
I also have a tendency to think in one language while speaking in another, so the way in which I verbally express myself can sound funny to others or even grammatically or syntactically incorrect in the language I'm speaking.
Language is deeply tied to culture, so I find that I actually need to place myself in a certain mindset to speak a specific language. Oftentimes it means that I need some time to gather my thoughts to think about what I would like to say and how I'd like to express myself before I actually speak. This can be interpreted as "stuttering", which appears to be frowned upon by society. So, at least for me, there can definitely be some challenges to being multi-lingual.
Thanks for this beautiful letter. Very soon my grandson will arrive and I will forward this letter to my son and my daughter in law. We are very proud to be Hispanics and bilinguals. I learned how to speak fluently English after I was forty five years- old which was very difficult; therefore, I have a strong accent.
I forgot to write that one thing that is as important as the verbal language is the body language that is unique of each culture. I asked one time to a professor in a language acquisition workshop why they don't teach about body language in the universities, and she didn't have an answer.
I love this article! I couldn't agree more about celebrating bicultural and bilingual people. I love my bilingual life. It has given me a richness that is hard to put into words! I'm so glad my son will have the opportunity to live his life bilingual/bicultural from the very beginning!
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François Grosjean, Ph.D., is Emeritus Professor of psycholinguistics at the University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland and the author of Bilingual: Life and Reality, among other books.
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