“Multilingual Families” is an important project co-funded in the framework of Key Activity 2 Languages of the Lifelong Learning programme that is targeted at preserving the languages and culture of the 47.3 million immigrants living in the European Union and the many families with parents having more than one language. These people represent a linguistic treasure house for Europe and one that must be preserved to enhance the linguistic and multi-cultural diversity of Europe.
To preserve this treasure into the second generation, i.e. the children of immigrants and linguistically diverse parents, is vital as a continuing linguistic resource. Children who are bilingual are also a strong beacon to their monolingual peers that multilingualism, is obtainable.
The difficulty is to support and inform immigrant or bilingual parents how and why to raise their children multilingually in an informal setting.
The “Multilingual Families” project will provide this support to parents in 3 ways by answering the questions:
- Why – should we support children’s learning and continuing use of the family language?
- What – can we do to support them?
- How – do we implement real language support so that they learn the family language and retain it?
It will go further and provide support materials to teachers, immigrant groups in fact all stakeholders that work with immigrants and bilingual parents, so that they can disseminate the project resources to immigrant and bilingual parents and support them by answering questions and obtaining materials, in the form of informal and formal guides for teachers, stakeholders and parents. Example activities for parents and teachers are being created as well, to act as a starting point to motivate informal language learning and use.
In addition, a large repository of information and links about raising children in more than one language has been added to the website.
Finally “Multilingual Families” will also create resources for the children, to show them directly why having 2 or more languages, and family languages, is something to be proud of and has huge value in their lives. These resources will be available in 17 languages and are being added to the project website.
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