Kletsheads [English edition]
Kletsheads [English edition]
About Kletsheads [English edition]
The podcast about bilingual children
What do bilingual children think about being bilingual? Children - from 8 to 38 years old - talk about the fun and not so fun sides of being bilingual, their favourite words, the language they use with their pets, and what language they will speak when they become parents themselves. In the first two seasons of Kletsheads, I talked to children about what it is like to grow up with two or more languages, our Kletshead of the Week. In this special episode, I bring you the best of, a compilation of my favourite bits from 'Kletshead of the Week'. Want to listen to the whole conversation with one of our Kletsheads? You can. You can find the link to the relevant episodes below: You'll find brothers Aiden and Quinn in the very first episode of Kletsheads on How to plan for a bilingual child. Christie, who spoke about the different personalities associated with her languages is in Episode 4, Season 1 (Should you worry about language mixing?). French-English bilinguals Loïc and Ella are in Episode 2, Season 1 (How much language does a child need to hear to become bilingual?) and Episode 6, Season 1 (Bilingual siblings), respectively. Katriina tells us about her struggles with Finnish in Episode 9, Season 1 (How to make the use of bilingual children's home languages in the classroom: Translanguaging), and South African Rehoboth talks about swearing in Episode 4, Season 2 (Trilingual with Xitsonga and Hot off the press). You can find Japanese-English bilingual Naia in Episode 3, Season 1 (How do you know if a bilingual child has a language delay?), and Italian-English-Arabic trilingual Sara in Episode 8, Season 2 (Language mixing and bilingual secrets). Thorwen talks about how his parents persuaded him to attend heritage language school in Episode 7, Season 1 (Does it matter if a bilingual child only actively uses one language?).
Transcript It's over two years since the Covid-19 pandemic broke out and families across the globe were forced into lockdown, with schools and childcare centres closed and many parents having to juggle working from home with caring for younger children and homeschooling older ones. Whilst this was a shared experience across many communities in many (if not most) countries around the world, individual families found themselves in many different circumstances, some more bearable than others. In the second season of Kletsheads, we spoke about the impact of the pandemic of multilingual families in a special episode dedicated to the topic in early 2021. In that episode, I also told you about a research project which I was carrying out together with students following the MA in Linguistics programme at Radboud University, The Netherlands. Many listeners (and many others) took part in this project and in Hot off the Press (starts at 01:12), I tell you about our main findings. You can read all about them in the full report and infographic on the project's webpage, available in English and in Dutch. A publication in an academic journal will follow soon. In Let's Klets (starts at 09:57), I talk to Dr. Francesca la Morgia is Founder and Director of the Mother Tongues, a social enterprise working to promote multilingualism and intercultural dialogue in Ireland. Co-incidentally, she also contributed to the earlier Kletsheads episode on bilingual families in lockdown. Francesca is a linguist, researcher and social entrepreneur based in Dublin. As she mentioned in our conversation, Francesca is also the creator of the Language Explorers Activitiy Book, which can be used by teachers and parents to help children explore their own bilingualism as well as bringing them into contact with 30 different languages in a fun and interactive way. Another great resource! Find out about all of Mother Tongues' various activities - including the Mother Tongues festival - on their website. This is the final episode of the season. Stay in touch via social media and thanks for listening!
Transcript Bilingual children sometimes say things that their monolingual peers would never say. This is the same for adults, too. They don't always know certain words in each of their two (or more) languages. And in the many cases when bilingual children do know the word in question, they can't always think of it straightaway. Again, this also holds for adults. I speak from experience as someone who sometimes has to use google translate from Dutch to English to remember what a word is in my native language. As a parent, teacher or speech language therapist, you may wonder whether all of this is normal. The answer is "yes". Being creative with words, not always finding the right one, and sometimes saying things in ways monolinguals would never do is quite normal. In this episode research Elly Koutamanis explains why this is the case, how we know this exactly, and what this tells us about how the bilingual mind deals with words from two languages. We talked about two different kinds words: cognates and false friends. Cognates are words which look or sound similar and mean the same thing. For example, cat in English looks and sounds like kat in Dutch, and they both refer to the same four-legged furry creature that miaouws. False friends also look and sound similar but they mean something different. For example, the German word schlimm 'bad' sounds and looks like the Dutch word slim, which means something quite different: 'clever'. Research shows that the bilinguals respond differently to these two kinds of words, both compared with each other and compared with words that are completely unrelated across languages. Listen to the podcast to find out how exactly! What this research shows is that bilignuals are unable to switch off their languages and this means that how they use or understand one language is often influenced by the other. It also shows that a bilingual's two languages live together in the same 'bin' rather than in two separate 'bins', one for each language. How words from two different languages are connected to the same concept (the triangle idea Elly spoke about in the episode) In this episode, I also share the last Kletsheads Quick and Easy (starts at 18:00) for this season, a concrete tip that you can immediately and easily use to make a success of multilingualism in your family, classroom or practice. This episode's tip is to talk to your child about their bilingualism! In the episode I mention Eowyn Crisfield's book, Bilingual Families: A Practical Language Planning Guide, and the animations, Bilingualism in the picture. These are three short films about bilingualism and what it means to grow up bilingual. They are available in English - and if you go to the Dutch website - in Dutch, Polish, Turkish and Arabic. Elly Koutamanis is a PhD student at the Centre for Language Studies at Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Her research is on exactly the same topic as this episode: how does the bilingual child's mind handle words from two languages. She's a member of the 2in1 project, which investigates how bilingual children's languages influence each other more generally. We heard from another project member, Chantal van Dijk, in an earlier episode on this topic last season. You can read more in this piece by Elly, Chantal and colleagues on the MPI TalkLing blog.
Transcript Most bilingual children mix their two languages. Perhaps not all the time and not in all contexts, but as many parents will know, bilingual children regularly start a sentence in one language and finish it in another, or they insert a word from one language whilst speaking the other. Such behaviour is perfectly normal. You might say it's part and parcel of being bilingual. Yet why children mix and why some do it more than others remains poorly understood. Given that language mixing is often one of the biggest concerns raised by parents raising their children bilingually, it's surprising how little research there is on the topic. In Hot off the Press (starts at 01:05) I tell you about one of the few pieces of research on language mixing in bilingual children where researchers in the US asked what makes children mix - not being proficient enough in their two languages or not being able to control which one they're speaking? It turns out that it's a bit of both. Listen to the podcast to find out more or take a look at the research paper yourself. Here are the details: Gross, M.C. & Kaushanskaya, M. (2020). Cognitive and linguistic predictors of language control in bilingual children. Frontiers in Psychology. 11:968. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00968 Megan Gross is a researcher at the University of Massachussetts at Amherst in the US, and you read about her work on her Bilingual Language Development Lab's website. Rita Kaushanskaya is a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, also in the US. Read about her work on her Language Acquisition and Bilingualism Lab's website. In this episode I also talk to another Kletshead of the week (starts at 12:21). This episode we're off to Ireland where I talk to 12-year-old Sara who's growing up with English, Arabic and Italian. She tells me about learning to read in Arabic and how one of the benefits of being bilingual is being able to use your 'other' language as a secret language when you don't want everyone to know what you're saying. This is in fact one of the most popular answers we've had to that question on the podcast!
Transcript Every three years, teenagers around the world are tested on their abilities in maths, science and reading, as part of PISA, the Programme for International Student Assessment. Basically, it's a way of comparing how well countries are doing when it comes to educating their children. Because of Covid-19, the latest PISA data we have are from 2018 and what these data show is that in many countries, there are huge differences between children in how well they score, differences that are related to, for example, their parents' level of education (often referred to as socio-economic status), where their parents come from (whether they have an immigrant background), and also the language spoken at home. What causes these differences and when do they emerge? Do we see the same differences for all bilingual children? In this episode of Kletsheads, we're talking about the relationship between bilingualism and academic achievement. To what extent does speaking another language at home affect how well a child does at school? In conversation with researcher Orhan Agirdag, we discover that the performance gap between bilingual students and their monolingual classmates is *not* due to their bilingualism. It is precisely the children who use their home language more that do better at PISA. So what is the reason? According to Orhan, this achievement gap is caused by the way bilingual children are treated in education. We talk about the role of teachers' expectations, a country's educational system, and about using the multicultural capital of bilingual children in school. Orhan Agirdag is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Psychological and Pedagogical Sciences of KU Leuven and at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences of the University of Amsterdam. He has more than 100 publications to his name on all kinds of subjects concerning bilingualism and education. If you want to know more about his research and about the topics he discussed in the podcast, and you read Dutch, then read his book, Onderwijs in een gekleurde samenleving. In this episode I also share another Kletsheads Quick and Easy (starts at 25:44) with you, a concrete tip that you can put to use straightaway to make a success of the bilingualism in your family, class or clinic. This episode's tip is to play a game with your child. It's a tip taken from the resources provided by the PEACH project. The PEACH project is a European project supporting families raising bilingual and multilingual children by creating a handbook for parents and educators as well as informative videos and a whole host of free resources for you to use (be sure to scroll to the bottom of the page!). As I mentioned in the podcast, there are even pictures you can download to turn into jigsaw puzzles to play with your child whilst speaking your hertiage language. It's well worth a look!
Transcript When you're raising a bilingual child and you're the the only source of one of your child's two or more languages, it can be a good idea to try and find other people or places for your child to hear and use that language. One way you can do this is to use multimedia resources such as tv and films, apps, audiobooks and music. In Hot off the Press (starts at 01:12), we talk about a recent piece of research from Singapore that investigates whether using multimedia resources really does support bilingual children's language development. This is the study in question: Sun H and Yin B (2020) Multimedia Input and Bilingual Children’s Language Learning. Front. Psychol. 11:2023. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.02023 The researchers asked what matters most: how much time children spend engaging with this resources or how many different kinds of multimedia resources they use? It turns out that for the dominant language in the children's wider environment, English, multimedia resources didn't have much of an impact at all. For their children's heritage language, Mandarin Chinese, the diversity of resources was positively related to their scores on a range of language tests, but how much time they spent engaging with such resources was not. Our discussion of multimedia resources continues in Let's Klets (starts at 09:26) when I speak to Ute Limacher-Riebold from the PEACH project. The PEACH project is a European project supporting families raising bilingual and multilingual chidlren by creating a handbook for parents and educators as well as informative videos and a whole host of free resources for you to use (be sure to scroll to the bottom of the page!). As Ute mentioned in our conversation, there's also an ever-increasing set of Spotify playlists with all kinds of audio resources in a range of different languages (go to Spotify and search for PEACH project) and there are PEACH ambassadors around the world. Ute also mentioned a number of other resources she's been involved in creating, including the Activities for Multilingual Families YouTube channel. Ute Limacher-Riebold is a language consultant with expertise in intercultural communication and multilingualism. She is based in the Netherlands but has lived in various countries around the world, although never in her parents' country of origin, Germany. Find out more about Ute and her work at Ute's International Lounge.
Transcript Learning to read is an important step in your child's development. When children start to learn to read depends on the country they live in. In some parts of the world, like the UK, children are taught to read pretty much as soon as they enter school, whereas in other countries, like here in NL, children spend a year or two first learning to recognise letters before they're actually sat down and taught how to read and write. Learning to read comes more easily to some children than others. And as a parent, it's important to help your child by reading to them, helping them sound out words, and of course encouraging them to read themselves. In this episode we discuss what you can do as a parent to help your bilingual child learn to read in both languages together with Elise de Bree. We start by discussing the process of learning to read, the steps involved and where children might experience difficulties. We learn that bilingual children learn to read in exactly the same way as monolingual children and all parents can support their children's reading development by helping them practice, having them sound out words and reading to them yourself. This will help children to learn new words, a crucial part of learning to read, because even if you can figure out what each letter on the page sounds like, if you don't then recognise the word you're reading, you won't be any the wiser. We also discuss the question of how to approach reading in the home or heritage language (or languages). How do you make sure that your child can read in their heritage language as well as their school language? Is it always better to start with the school langauge and then move on to the other language? Or is it ok to do it the other way round ? Or even at the same time? What happens when the two languages use different scripts? Listen to the podcast to find out the answers to all of these questions. In this episode I also share my third Kletsheads Quick and Easy (starts at 24:45) with you, a concrete tip that you can put to use straightaway to make a success of the bilingualism in your family, class or clinic. This episode's tip is to map your child's input. The book I mentioned in the episode, where this tip comes from, is Eowyn Crisfield's recent book, Bilingual Families: A Practical Language Planning Guide. There you'll find more about the idea of mapping your child's language input. For a similar (and simpler) approach, take a look at the materials developed by the Planting Languages project and in particular at page 13 (step 5) in their booklet for parents (here in English but also available in Polish, French, Dutch and Greek). As I said in the podcast, I also tried to map my daughter's input. Here's the result: In the podcast I mention a tool that we've designed as part of the Q-BEx project. Essentially, this is a questionnaire which parents complete online (or together with a teacher or speech language therapist) and which outputs various measures of language exposure, language use and language richness, in both of the child's languages. In other words, it's a way of mapping a bilingual child's input! If you want to find out more, take a look at the project's website where there's information for teachers, parents and clinicians. We'd love it if you gave it a try! Elise De Bree is professor of Developmental Language Disorders in Inclusive Education at the Faculty of Social Sciences aan de Utrecht University, the Netherlands. This is endowed professorship from the Koninklijke Auris. Her research focuses on reading and spelling, including dyslexia, and the language development of children with development language disorder (DLD). Find out more about Elise's research here. She contributes to several national organisations (Stichting Dyslexie Nederland and Nederlands Kwaliteitsinstituut Dyslexie) which provide research-based information and advice to parents, teachers and clinicians.
Transcript In Hot off the Press (starts at 01:12), I tell you about a recently published study from Canada. This research deals with two important factors in bilingual language development, namely how early you start (age) and how much contact you have with a language (amount of language input). It's often thought that age is more important than language input, but this research shows that this is not the case. The study focused on the language development of bilingual children in Montreal who were growing up with French and English and/or another language. The children were 6 and 8 years old and had started learning French at different ages (before 3 years or after 3 years). The results show that -- once how much contact the children had with French was taken into account -- the early and late bilingual children hardly differed (or did not differ) from each other, nor from monolingual French-speaking children. It was true, however, that there was lots of variation between bilingual children in their scores on the language tests used, and these were related to differences in the amount of input in French that children had had up to that point. This research was led by Elin Thordardottir, professor in the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders atMcGill University. Here are details: Elin, Thordardottir (2019). Amount trumps timing in bilingual vocabulary acquisition: Effects of input in simultaneous and sequential bilingual school-age bilinguals. International Journal of Bilingualism, 23, 236-255. https://doi.org/10.1177/1367006917722418 It's open access, which means that you don't have to pay to be able to read it. Would you like to know more about the Q-BEx project (Q-BEx stands for 'quantifying bilingual experience')? You can find an infographic about what the questionnaire involves here and summaries of our research so far - all written in accessible language - here. Our Kletshead of the week (starts at 13:13) is 13-year-old Rehoboth. He lives in South Africa and is growing up trilingual with English, Afrikaans and Xitsonga as his three languages. He tells me which language he dreams in, and why he thinks it's unfair if your school books aren't available in your heritage language.
Transcript Children who grow up hearing two or more languages do not always end up actively using all their languages as they get older. In such cases, it's typically the heritage or minority language which suffers at the expense of the school language. As we heard in the last episode of Kletsheads when I spoke to my neighbour Kate, children may be perfectly capable of speaking the heritage language but prefer to use the language or languages spoken at school. in some cases, however, they might not be able to speak the heritage language well enough in order to express themselves properly. This is often a great source of frustration for parents, who may feel disappointed and in some cases rejected by their child's inability or unwillingness to use their native language. It can also make communication quite difficult and parents may sometimes switch to speaking the school language in order to be able to communicate with their child, even though in some cases they themselves might not be very proficient in that language. All of this can a negative impact on the relationship between parent and child, and on children's well-being. This is the topic we're talking about in this episode of Kletsheads, together with researchers Elspeth Wilson and Napoleon Katsos. What is the impact of children's use and knowledge of the heritage language on family well-being? We talk about the role of language use and language proficiency (it's quite hard to disentangle the two), about the importance of promoting the heritage language culture, and we share tips for parents and teachers about what you can do to make sure that the bilingual children in your environment are happy, engaged and generally feel positive about life! We also hear our second Kletsheads Quick & Easy (starts 21:18), a concrete tip that you can put to use straightaway to make a success of the bilingualism in your family, class or clinic. This episode's tip: find one new source of language input for your child's heritage language. Dr. Elspeth Wilson is a post-doctoral researcher in the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge. Her research mostly focuses on how children learn to understand what other people mean when they're talking, especially when what they literally say is often not what they mean (this area of linguistics is known as pragmatics). Professor Napoleon Katsos is professor of Experimental Pragmatics in the section Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at the University of Cambridge. One of his many research interests is language learning in monolingual and bilingual children and on the relation between bilingualism and autism. Together with colleagues, Elspeth and Napoleon published what's called a scoping review on the relationship between bilingualism and well-being. A scoping review is bascially a way of bringing together all the research that's been done on a topic and summarising it for others. As we heard in the episode, there's not actually that much research on this topic but what there is, you can find in this paper. Here are the full details: Müller, L-M., Howard, K., Wilson, E., Gibson, J., & Katsos, N. (2020). Bilingualism in the family and child well-being: A scoping review. International Journal of Bilingualism, 24(5-6), 1049-1070. doi:10.1177/1367006920920939 It's open access, which means that you can go to the website and read it there or download it for free. (Should that not work for you, send Kletsheads a message and we'll email it you!). Elspeth and Napoleon are also part of the Cambridge Bilingualism Network, and as Napoleon mentioned on the podcast, they helped develop a set of materials for bilingual parents-to-be and antenatal practioners who work with them. You can find these on the We Speak Multi website. Another great resource when it comes to well-being in bilingual families is the Harmonious Bilingualism Network directed by Professor Annick De Houwer.
Transcript In this episode of Kletsheads we talk about one of the greatest frustrations faced by parents raising their children bilingually: you speak consistently to them in the heritage or home language and they consistently respond in the school language. Of course this only happens when you're proficient in that language, too, and for many parents this is indeed the case. In Let's Klets (starts at 15:35), we speak to Kate, English-speaking mum to two daughters, aged 5 and 8. Until recently, they both almost always spoke to her in their other language, Dutch, the language of the community they grow up in, the language they use at school, the language they use with their father, and a language which Kate herself speaks very well. It will be a familiar situation to many, no doubt. Kate tells us how a summer holiday in the US last year changed all this and how she discovered just how much English her children actually knew. It's a story of hope which I'm sure will inspire many parents to stick at speaking their heritage language even when it might seem like they're fighting a losing battle. In one of our new features for this season, Hot off the Press (starts at 01:37), I tell you about a recent piece of research on bilingual children. In this first edition, we hear about a study looking at bilingual children who speak Russian as their heritage language and who were growing up in five different countries (Norway, UK, Germany, Latvia and Israel). The study examines their acquisition of grammatical gender. Grammatical gender in Russian can be tricky, because it's not always clear which gender (masculine, feminine, neuter) a noun has. Some genders are harder to learn than others and in this study, we learn that those which have less 'transparent' cues need more input, that instruction in the heritage language can help in this regard, and that for this particular aspect of Russian, any influence from the children's other language was minimal. The study in question is free to access: Rodina Y., Kupisch T., Meir N., Mitrofanova N., Urek O. & Westergaard M. (2020) Internal and External Factors in Heritage Language Acquisition: Evidence From Heritage Russian in Israel, Germany, Norway, Latvia and the United Kingdom. Frontiers in Education https://doi.org/10.3389/feduc.2020.00020
Transcript Children start talking when they are around one year old. However, we know from research that they are already working on language before that. In this episode, we learn what exactly babies know about language. And we hear about the ingenious ways scientists have developed to figure this out. For example, they measure how fast babies suck on a fake teat, or measure the activity in their brains. Bilingual babies by definition hear more than one language while in their cradle. How do they keep their two languages apart? How do they know which combination of sounds belong together and in which language? How do they learn their first words? These are all questions we discuss in this episode of Kletsheads. We do this together with Krista Byers-Heinlein from Concordia University in Canada. We learn that bilingual babies can hear differences between all kinds of languages, and just like monolingual babies, they start to zoom in on the sounds of the languages they hear around them in the first 12 months. Babies use the rhythm of language to distinguish different languages. In the podcast you will hear three languages, German, Spanish and Japanese. All three have a different rhythm. The pieces in the podcast were all from adults reading children's books. Spanish: Pollito Tito - Chicken Little in Spanish with English subtitles Japanese: Learn Japanese with Children's Books - 12 Minutes of Japanese Kids Books With Hiroko German: Noaanou's Kinderkram - Vorlesegeschichten: Pixi Buch "Conni bekommt eine Katze" Importantly, keeping the two languages separate by having each parent only speak one language only does not appear to be necessary for babies to keep their languages apart. As Krista put it, mixing your languages won't mix up your babies. We also hear about bilingual babies learning languages which are similar to each other, and about differences between bilingual and monolingual babies when it comes to their flexibility in learning new rules that don't have anything to do with language: bilingual babies adapt to the environment they're growing up in and this can have consequences for how they learn such rules. In the first edition of our new feature, Kletsheads Quick and Easy (starts at 25:35), I encourage you to give your bilingual child a compliment about their bilingualism. Compliments make a child feel valued, it boosts their self-esteem, and gives them self-confidence. It is also a way of recognising that speaking two or more languages is not always easy, and that it can sometimes take extra effort. Krista Byers-Heinlein is Research Chair in Bilingualism and Open Science in the Department of Psychology at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. In her lab, she researches studies how bilingualism in the infant and preschool years affects children’s language, social, and cognitive development. She has published widely on these topics and regularly communicates her findings to a broader audience in talks and appearances on podcasts such as this one. You can read about her research here.
The second season of Kletsheads is almost about to start! The first episode will drop on Feb 18th. You can expect the same mix of science, experiences, and practical tips, but not quite the same as the last season. The episodes will be a bit shorter (between 30 and 45 minutes, instead of an hour) and they'll be released every two weeks (instead of once a month). And we have two new features for you: Hot off the Press and Kletsheads Quick and Easy. Listen to this teaser episode to find out more!
Transcript In this special bonus episode of Kletsheads we have a podcast crossover. We are delighted to share an episode of the Much Language Such Talk podcast, an English language podcast that answers questions about language, learning, and culture. The podcast was created by three researchers at the University of Edinburgh, Brittany Blankship, Eva-Maria Schnelten and Carine Abraham, who are also volunteers at Bilingualism Matters, a research and information centre on multilingualism at the University of Edinburgh. There are episodes on a variety of topics related to multilingualism, from language, race and ethnicity, to language and cognition, and specific languages such as Basque. This episode is about multilingual children. Carine is the host and I am the guest. We talk about the role of language input (listen to this episode of Kletsheads if you want to hear more about this), bilingual siblings (here's an episode about that), how the languages of bilingual children can influence each other (we also have an episode of Kletsheads about this), and of course about podcasting and why I started the Kletsheads podcast. During the conversation with Carine and Maria I talked about the Kletskoppen child language festival. This is a science festival about language for children. The next edition will take place on March 6th, 2022 in Nijmegen.
Transcript "You're wobbling the whole time the table! This is what my bilingual son said to his sister when they were playing a board game sat together at a small table and big sister was apparently also playing with the table leg. His message was clear. Big sister stopped and the game continued. What struck me most about this conversation was the way in which my son had chosen to phrase his message: his sentence was perfectly ok English, and his sister clearly understoond him, but I am certain that his English-speaking cousins in England would have said it differently. They would have switched the words around and said "You're wobbling the table the whole time" instead. This is a wonderful example of what we call cross-linguistic influence. The way in which my son put together his sentence was clearly influenced by the fact that he speaks Dutch as well as English, because in Dutch, "de hele tijd" (the Dutch for "the whole time") comes before "de tafel" (the Dutch for "the table") and not after it. Bilingual children sometimes sound different to children who only speak one language. They sometimes say things in a slightly different way, and this is often related to how their other language works. Why do bilingual children do this? What does this tell us about their language development? Why do some bilingual children do it more often than others? Is cross-linguistic influence something to worry about or is it part and parcel of being bilingual? These are all questions that we answer in this episode of Kletsheads, the last episode of season 1, together with fellow researcher Chantal van Dijk. We learn that cross-linguistic influence is part and parcel of being bilingual. This is because the two languages of a multilingual are connected to each other. Some researchers even claim that certain grammatical rules are shared between languages, for example if they are the same in the two languages. We also hear that language dominance can have an effect on when one language influences the other: if bilingual children are much stronger in one of their languages, their stronger language usually influences the weaker language, although cross-linguistic influence in the other direction - that is, from the weaker language to the stronger language - is still possible. In Let's Klets (starts at 14:30) we talk to Martha, a mum here in the Netherlands who grew up herself as a bilingual child. She talks about deciding which of her two languages (English and Dutch) she should speak to her son, and about the challenges her family faced during the lockdown and once her son went back to school. And we hear from trilingual 12-year-old Nicole (starts at 37:08). She's growing with with Dutch, English and Italian. She tells us about why she thinks it's important for her to speak Italian (to speak to her grandparents) and how some words can be a bit confusing because they sound the same but mean something different. Chantal van Dijk is a postdoctoral researcher at the Radboud University in Nijmegen where she is conducting research within the 2in1 project on the language development of bilingual children and in particular cross-linguistic influence. In September 2021 she will defend her thesis with four different studies on this topic. In the podcast, she talked about a large study that we carried out together, a "meta-analysis" where we pooled together data from over 700 bilingual children, 700 monolingual children, and 17 unique language combinations, to find out which factors predict whenand how much cross-linguistic influence takes place. The article is published in the Journal of Child Language and you can access it here. As I said in the podcast, it's written for an academic audience so it does contain quite a lot of jargon.
Transcript One language at school and another language at home. This is the reality for most bilingual children here in the Netherlands and in many countries around the world. Bilingual children often use the school language when they're at home, sometimes because this is the language spoken to them by one of their parents, but speaking the other language at school? That rarely happens. Sometimes it's not even allowed. According to many researchers -- and more and more teachers -- this is a missed opportunity. Because using the home languages of bilingual children at school can have all kinds of advantages. It makes them feel better, they often perform better academically (also in the school language), and it promotes inclusivity. One way of giving the home languages of bilingual children a place at school is called translanguaging. In this episode, I talk to Joana Duarte, a polyglot herself, about this strategy and what research-based evidence there is to show that it works. In short, it does work but only under the right circumstances. Joana tells us what those circumstances are. We also discuss potential concerns teachers may have, such as what to do when you don't speak or understand the children's home language yourself, and we hear what teachers who have worked with Joana and her team have learned from using this approach. In Let's Klets (starts at 37:12), I talk to Victoria Farrell and Marie Newton, both speech and language therapists working in the UK, and both members of the Bilingualism London Clinical Excellence Network, a group of speech and language therapists specialised in working with children and families from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. They provide support, help and encouragement to all members and promote the exchange of information and ideas and resources. Check out their website for more details! Our Kletshead of the week (starts at 15:14) is Katriina from Canada. She was raised trilingually, with Finnish from mum, English from dad and her wider environment, and French at school. Now an adult herself, she reflects on her own multilingualism, as well as that of her future children. Joana Duarte is Professor in Multilingualism and Literacy at NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences in Leeuwarden, and Special Professor of World Citizenship and Bilingual Education at the University of Amsterdam. She conducts research on diversity and equity, the language acquisition of multilingual students, language attitudes of teachers and families, multilingual didactics and teacher professionalisation in the context of multilingualism in education. One of the projects Joana mentioned during our conversation is the 3M project (More Opportunities With Multilingualism). There are many resources there but most are in Dutch. An extensive list of the research of Joana and her colleagues can be found on this website. One of the researchers most associated with translanguaging is Ofélia García. List to her in this lecture where she explains what translanguaging entails. This explainer video by Eowyn Crisfield (our guest on the very first episode of Kletsheads): https://youtu.be/iNOtmn2UTzI When talking about how schools can find out more about bilingual children's home language environments, I mentioned the Q-BEx project. Q-BEx stands for Quantifying Bilingual Experience and in this project we are developing a user-friendly, online questionnaire which teachers, clinicans and researchers can use bto gain more insight into children's language experience, now and in the past. This project is led by Cécile De Cat at Leeds University, and involves researchers from the UK (Drasko Kascelan - Leeds, Ludovica Serratrice - Reading), France (Philippe Prévost & Laurie Tuller -- Tours) and me (Sharon Unsworth - Nijmegen).
Transcript Many children in the world grow up with three languages. For example, because their parents both speak a different language and they learn a third language at school. Or because they speak one language at home and go to a bilingual school where they learn two new languages. There are also many countries in the world where almost everyone is trilingual. Think, for instance, of countries in Central and West Africa, countries like India, Luxembourg and Switzerland. There are actually far more trilingual children than you might first think, also in countries like the Netherlands. In this episode, we focus mainly on trilingual families. For example, where one parent speaks Russian, the other German, and at school a third language is learnt. Our guest is Simona Montanari, researcher and mother of two trilingual (Spanish, Italian, English) teenagers. Together with Simona, we answer the following questions: What can you realistically expect from a child who grows up with three languages, and how can you best support his or her multilingual development? Are children able to keep their languages apart? Do they take longer to develop their language than children who grow up with only one or two languages? How many languages can a child learn at once? We discover that there are many similarities between trilingualism and bilingualism. This means that the factors that play a role in bilingualism, such as how much language a child is exposed to, also play a role in trilingualism. We also talk about (possible) differences between bilingualism and trilingualism. We discuss trilingual language development in the early years as well as what happens when children grow up and how you can ensure that your child continues to master and use all three languages. And there's a bit of an Italian flavour to this episode, because in Let's Klets (starts at 14:36) I talk to another native speaker of Italian, Sara. She lives in London, and together with her American husband is raising her child bilingually. She tells us how her daughter was a completely passive bilingual, understanding everthing her mum said to her in Italian but only answering in English. Until the lockdown. Because after spending hours and hours re-enacting Elsa's coronation day with her mum (from the popular film Frozen), and a visit from nonna (her Italian grandma), everything changed! To the delight of both her parents, she now regularly uses Italian and has even said that she wants to start learning Spanish. In this episode we have not one, but two Kletsheads of the week (starts at 27:54), Gabriel and Elliot. They live in France, but also speak English and Czech. Simona Montanari is a researcher at California State University, Los Angeles, USA. She is one of the few people who have done research on trilingual children. During the podcast, she also talks about her own children. If you want to 'meet' the two girls, check out her YouTube channel where there are several videos showing examples of their three languages. Simona also does research on bilingual education. You can find more on her website.
Transcript "Help! My child doesn't speak my language back to me!" This is one of the most frequently heard concerns from parents raising their children bilingually. You really try your best, consistently speaking your language to your child, and yet she or he mostly speaks to you in the majority language, usually the language spoken at school (so Dutch here in the Netherlands, English in Ireland, German in Germany, and so on). Some parents don't really mind when their children do this, but for others it can be a source of great frustration. In this episode of Kletsheads we ask whether it matters if a bilingual child only actively uses one of the two languages she or he hears? It turns out that is does. At least if you want your child to be able to actively use both languages in the long run. Our guest is researcher Erika Hoff (who also appeared in Episode 2, where we answered the question How much language does a child need to hear to become bilingual?). In this episode, we learn that speaking a language is different from just listening to one. And we also provide lots of tips for parents on how to encourage a bilingual child to continue using their minority or heritage language. These are not only useful for parents themselves, but also for speech language therapists and teachers who want to provide advice to bilingual parents. Sharon and Thorwen chatting online In Let's Klets (starts at 27:00) we speak to Ellen-Rose Kambel about Language Friendly Schools, an initiative designed to encourage schools around the world to welcome and value all the languages spoken by their students and their parents. And our Kletshead of the week (starts at 10:55) is the 19-year-old Thorwen, originally from the Netherlands but who spent most of his childhood in Hong Kong. He tells us about his positive experiences of going to a local (rather than international) school and about attending Dutch language education. To find out more about this, take a look at the Stichting NOB website. Erika Hoff is Professor of Developmental Psychology at Florida Atlantic University in the USA. She is world-renowned for her research into the language development of bilingual and monolingual children and currently leads a research project following a large group of Spanish-English bilingual children from 2½ years of age up to and including their tenth birthday. In her research, she focuses on the factors in the young child's environment which predict later language development. Our conversation took place in June 2019 when Erika was a guest researcher at Radboud University. Ellen-Rose Kambel is Director of the Rutu Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to mother-tongue education. With a PhD in social sciences, she has written several books and articles on education and multilingualism. Together with Emmanuelle Le Pichon-Vorstman (University of Toronto), she founded The Language Friendly School. Go to their website to find a roadmap indicating what a school should and should not do in order to become language-friendly. Ellen-Rose Kambel is Director of the Rutu Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to mother-tongue education. With a PhD in social sciences, she has written several books and articles on education and multilingualism. Together with Emmanuelle Le Pichon-Vorstman (University of Toronto), she founded The Language Friendly School. Go to their website to find a roadmap indicating what a school should and should not do in order to become language-friendly.
Transcript Children growing up in the same bilingual family can differ in how well they speak their two (or more) languages. Sometimes siblings in bilingual families differ in how much they use their two (or more) languages. Parents often remark that their eldest child is more bilingual than their youngest. Or that their youngest develops more quickly in the school language and often ends up preferring this language over the heritage language (or languages). A crucial moment in a bilngual family's life is when the eldest child goes to school. Then, suddenly, the school language starts being used (more) at home and language dynamics may change in the family. This is what parents often report, but to what extent is this backed up by research? What can the available research tell us about the language development of siblings in bilingual families? Do older children really have such a big influence on the bilingual language development of their younger siblings? And if so, is this the same for both the school language and the heritage language? The language development of siblings in bilingual families is a topic that we've done some research on recently. You'll hear a bit more about this during the episode and you can read the study I talk about here (open access). I also talk to Canadian researcher Tamara Sorenson Duncan about her research on the topic. We also discuss the language use between siblings in bilingual families. Children often have a preference for the school language when they talk to each other, much to the frustration of at least one of their parents. There's not much research on this topic but I will give you a number of practical tips for how, as a parent, you can ensure that your children continue to use their heritage language in the home. In Let's Klets (starts at 22:17), I talk to Gisi Cannizzaro, enthusiastic promoter of heritage language schools here in the Netherlands. Our Kletshead of the week (starts at 35:04) is the 11-year-old Ella from Montréal. She comes from an English-speaking household and attends French-language school. We talk about the language of dreams and about the word for "squirrel" in different languages! Dr. Tamara Sorenson Duncan is an assistant professor at Carleton University in Ottowa, Canada. Her research focuses on the bilingual language development of children who immigrated or fled to Canada with their parents, children with language development disorders, and children with autism. The research she discusses in this episode was carried out as part of her doctoral research at the University of Alberta, under the supervision of Prof. Johanne Paradis. Dr. Gisi Cannizzaro lives in Eindhoven with her Italian husband and two trilingual sons (English, Italian, and Dutch). Originally from New Orleans, in the U.S., she speaks English as her mother tongue. After completing a PhD in child language acquisition at Groningen University in the Netherlands, she worked for six years as an educational consultant helping multilingual, internationally mobile families with children. In 2018 she initiated two volunteer projects in Eindhoven: one to organize Italian language lessons for Italian-speaking children (Eindhoven Italian School "La Lampadina") and one to organize a network of mother tongue ("heritage language") programs, Heritage Language Schools Eindhoven. The Heritage Language Schools Eindhoven website contains information about heritage language education in the Eindhoven region, lists the available programs, and announces news and updates from these programs. The site also has information that is of interest for people living outside of Eindhoven: it lists events about multilingualism in the Netherlands and abroad (if online), features interviews with experts in the field of heritage language education, and contains useful resources for parents and Dutch school teachers. There is a special resource page devoted to information about professional developm...
Transcript Many bilingual families across the world find themselves in lockdown. And as a result, schools are closed and children are having to be taught online and/or by their parents. What would have been unheard of a year ago has now - unfortunately - become normal. But normal, of course, does not mean easy. Many families are struggling with homeschooling, from practical issues like whether there is enough space and equipment available to issues relating to actual content of the lessons. Bilingual families may also face additional challenges. If you don't speak the school language at home, how do you make sure your child has enough contact with that language - Dutch in the case of the Netherlands, where Kletsheads is based. What language should you use as a parent while homeschooling? Is it better to switch to the school language or can you continue to use your mother tongue? These are all questions we answer in this special episode of Kletsheads about the impact of the lockdown on bilingual families. We're joined by Tessa Mearns, researcher at Leiden University in the Netherlands, and Francesca la Morgia from the organisation, Mother Tongues. Tessa and Francesca are both mothers of bilingual children, too, so they also tell us about their families' experiences during this period. And it's not all doom and gloom! We'll also talk about some of the upsides bilingual families have reported to the lockdown: more time at home means more contact with the home language (the non-Dutch language, in our case) and this has meant children are improving, using that language more, and sometimes developing new skills such as reading. At the time this podcast "drops", as it's called in podcast world, the primary schools in the Netherlands have just re-opened, but secondary schools are still teaching online only and children with family members who are shielding or who are shielding themselves of course have to stay at home. In many other places around the world, all schools remain closed and in many countries, this also holds for preschool childcare centres, too. Whether you're still in the thick of it or you want some tips on how to approach homeschooling if you're faced with it again (let's hope not), there are plenty of practical suggestions and tips for both parents and teachers. Because this is a special episode, there's no Kletshead of the Week or Let's Klets this time. Dr. Tessa Mearns is a Lecturer Researcher at ICLON (Leiden University Graduate School of Teaching) where she also coordinates the World Teachers Programme. Tessa is from Great Britain and, together with her English-speaking husband, is raising her two children bilingually. For this episode, she collected the experiences and tips of other bilingual families in her local are. Dr. Francesca la Morgia is Director of the Mother Tongues, a not for profit organization aimed at promoting multilingualism in Ireland. She is a linguist, researcher and social entrepreneur based in Dublin. In the podcast, Francesca mentioned several resources which she and her colleagues have developed for parents and teachers. You can find these here. Francesca is also the creator of the Language Explorers Activitiy Book, which can be used by teachers and parents to help children explore their own bilingualism as well as bringing them into contact with 30 different languages in a fun and interactive way. Another great resource! At the end of the podcast, I mention a study from the UK about the impact of the lockdown on multilingual families. You can read more about it in this New York Times article, or in this blog by the lead researcher, Prof. Ludovica Serratrice of the University of Reading. We want to conduct a similar study at Radboud University and will share more information about this around mid-March via social media. If you would like to apply now, please contact us via this website or send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Transcript For many bilingual families, mixing languages is quite normal. Children may start a sentence in one language and end it with the other. They sometimes throw in words from the other language in what is otherwise a monolingual conversation. For many parents, this is often cause for concern. It might be a sign that their child can't speak either language well, or that they're confused. In this episode of Kletsheads, we find out whether these concerns are justified. Children aren't the only ones mix. Parents who speak more than one language do this, too. And this is also something which parents often worry about. Will it have a negative effect on your child's language development? Can you better avoid mixing altogether? Together with Professor Elma Blom of Utrecht University (The Netherlands), we discuss the reasons why children mix their two languages, and what we know about the impact of parental mixing on children's development in their two (or more) languages. We learn that language mixing is completely normal, and based on the available research, there's no real reason to worry about it, either when your child does it or you do it yourself as a parent. Sharon and Liz recording Let's klets And there's a bit of a Canadian theme in this episode! Our Kletshead of the week (starts at 09:40) is thirty-something Christi from Ontario, Canada. She grew up bilingually with German and Spanish, but now considers English her dominant language. And in Let's Klets (starts at 21:07), we stay in Canada to speak to Dutch-speaking mum, Liz, (pictured above) about her hopes and concerns about the future of her bilingual toddler. Elma Blom is professor of Language Development and Multilingualism in Family and Education at Utrecht University. Her research focuses on the language development of bilingual children, children with language impairment, and bilingual children with language impairment. Find out more about Elma and her research interests on her website.
Kids & Family
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