a {text-decoration: none; } En la punta de la lengua: Advice to immigrant parents

14 oct 2015

Advice to immigrant parents

Being a linguistic minority in a foreign country where someone’s L1 is no longer an official language, or even not spoken whatsoever, is an experience that should be addressed with the relevance it deserves. 

Many aspects of life are about to change forever, and it would be desirable that immigrants who undergo this drastic change, had a strategic plan to help themselves and other family members assimilate these sociolinguistic adjustment in a non-traumatic way.
Hence, my advice to immigrant parents whose child is on the process of acquiring the host country language as an L2, would be to openly talk to the child about the circumstantial changes he is experiencing, and the consequences of being a linguistic minority in a foreign country. Some of the points I’m about to mention, may be better off discussed during late childhood or early puberty.

  • ·         Cultural affiliation (perception and feelings) towards the country of origin and the host country.
  • ·         The importance of cultural assimilation.
  • ·         The benefits of being a bicultural individual.
  • ·         The length of stay in the host country (temporary or permanent)
  • ·         Xenophobic (discriminatory) attitudes some individuals may hold against him and how to react to them.
  • ·         The importance of connecting his new language to his mother language (additive bilingualism) and how this might make him a more aware and “intelligent” person (cognitive benefits).
  • ·         The benefits of high polarity or language independency (avoiding linguistic interference and code-mixing) as a social distinctive of education.  
  • ·         Talking about under which circumstances certain language behaviors such as: code-switching, code-mixing, register adaptation, use of standard language, slang, etc. are socially acceptable and appreciated or vice-versa (pragmatics and sociolinguistic awareness)
  • ·         Heritage and linguistic pride in a non-ethnocentric way.
  • ·         Translanguaging (the process whereby multilingual language users mediate complex social and cognitive activities through strategic employment of multiple semiotic resources to act, to know and to be) and how his brain has and will continue to change in way that differs from a monolingual one.
  • ·         Why having an accent is not something to be ashamed of, since everyone has an one regardless if it’s a native or non-native one.

Finally, it is also important for the parent to look for government dependencies
in charge of providing second language courses to newly arrived immigrants, and if they ever feel like they have acquired enough proficiency in the new language, then it may be up to them to decide if they want to shift from their L1 to their L2 at home as well.

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