Although a few major languages seem to dominate the world's linguistic landscape,
the world is, has been and will continue to be multilingual.
Aware of that reality, many parents choose to bring up their children bilingually. By making that choice they hope to provide their children with, among others, the wonderful gift of communication and cultural awareness. However, when the bilingual family lives in a monolingual context, that choice may not be fully understood by many.
Many social circles pay lip service to bilingualism because it seems a fashionable choice nowadays, but, in truth, they are ready to question the need to educate a young child bilingually, especially if the child lives in a monolingual area dominated by one of the major world languages. They use arguments such as "a threat to language purity" or "cultural damage" as if speaking two languages from birth were dangerous and even harmful. Some of them even go further asking for norms and rules in an attempt to shun away any possible change one language may go through by being in contact with other languages.
These issues have been debated by some of the experts attending the First International Spanish Forum in Madrid this weekend. The Forum has also welcomed the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature, Mario Vargas Llosa. Together with Antonio Caño, he has talked about journalism and language. The writer has remembered his days as a journalist in England and France, his teaching days and has even advanced the title for his next novel "Five Corners" (Las Cinco Esquinas). He has talked about the importance of reading as a way to preserve both culture and freedom.
At the end of the conversation, Mario Vargas Llosa has kindly answered some questions from the audience and autographed books showing once more that his great personality equates the greatness of his writing. Seizing that "one in a million chance" I had this afternoon and fully aware of the importance that some encouraging words from the author could be for bilingual families, I have asked Mr. Vargas Llosa for his opinion about non-native parents who live in a monolingual area and still choose to bring up their children bilingually. He has answered that not only is it a good idea but that, if possible, it would be important to introduce more languages in the lives of our children.
So, keep up with your bilingual journey!!
Read to your child!!
And remember you are not the only one and
Mario Vargas Llosa fully supports your choice!
Don't let people who live in fear discourage you!!