MaMLiSE for parents: What is important to know?

For many children in the world, it is natural to grow up with more than one language. In many cases, parents do not systematically plan their family language policies. Instead, they use the language(s) that come(s) most naturally or intuitively to them, and they might also mix different languages in different environments or depending on the situation.

However, in some cases, for example when parents struggle to transmit a family language after moving to another country, they might want to change their approach and find an approach that helps them to foster the family language(s). Parents who are themselves multilingual or speak two or more different languages and live in an environment with a monolingual self-concept, as is the case in most European countries, might feel insecure or have questions about multilingualism in the family.

There is no recipe for a multilingual upbringing as each family is different. Therefore, this website cannot provide one strategy for all families. It aims to give background information, show video testimonials from different countries and provide resources for families to find their individual way.

What is important to know is that:
● All families are unique in their life circumstances, language repertoires and aims so there cannot just be one single approach.
● Balanced multilingualism, where a person is equally proficient in two or more languages, is a rare form of multilingualism and therefore not an adequate aim of a family language policy.
● All children need support in language acquisition in all their languages. Meaningful interactions are key.
● Language mixing is a natural form of communication.
● Life situations change over time – and so does language use.
● Family language policy is not about teaching languages but about communication in the close relationships within the family.
● There are many advantages for a child to develop their full language repertoire. Moreover, a person’s multilingualism is a part of them, so no reasons have to be given for fostering multilingualism.