Nurturing bilingualism & multiculturalism through friends

Nurturing bilingualism & multiculturalism through friends is one of the most pleasant aspects of raising children with multiple languages, and yet, one of the most vital. It’s an excellent opportunity to practice a language that may not be very common in the place where you live. In addition, your family gets immersed in the culture and hopefully creates lasting friendships: a sure-fire way to develop emotional ties to your target language and culture.

In the words of Marianna Du Bosq, founder of Bilingual Avenue, it’s all about building your language tribe during your multilingual journey. For our family, it has been about creating friendships with people who speak our common tongues – English, Spanish or French. But there are so many other ways to go about finding support for your language journey. It can come in the form of an online forum or a Facebook group. There are also many geographically located groups, associations and clubs that organize themselves with the sole purpose of having language based playgroups or support groups for parents. To get advice on how to build your own language tribe, please visit Marianna’s brilliant post – Building your Language Tribe: Advice from bloggers around the world!

Our friends Daniel and Itzel are from Mexico but have been living in France for several years now. They have 2 children who are close in age to our two oldest children. We don’t see each other often, probably only twice a year, but when we do we usually eat a big potluck style meal together and spend time outdoors where parents and children can play and chat. The children no longer speak Spanish to each other (most of the time) but at the dinner table we volley back and forth from Spanish to French with a sprinkling of English! We would love it if the children spoke to each other more in Spanish, but such is life, they have long since adopted the majority language (French) and we know better than to interfere in their language of choice with each other! Nevertheless, we feel that the time spent together with people with whom we share a common language and culture is one that is beneficial for all of us. Quite honestly, I personally soak in the opportunities to ask my dear friend Itzel about how you say this, that and the other en español! The compadres (our husbands) wear their beautiful guayaberas and enjoy tortilla chips with chipotle sauce. And Daniel and Itzel never go to Mexico without bringing us back a few special Mexican treats (usually edible!). We enjoy our association with these friends that keep us in touch with my (our) Mexican heritage and feel that these types of friendships make language and culture so much more tangible, colorful and full of life and flavor for our children.

Do you have a language tribe? How do you go about nurturing bilingualism and multiculturalism as you raise your multilingual family?

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