“To have a second language is to possess a second soul” (Charlemagne)

04 Oct

Already mentioned here my [random] thoughts on the whole bi/multilingual culture {Comments and extra thoughts on being a multilingual parent…}, and its obvious benefits, not only to the growing child, but also for the society that child is part of… Recently, CNN brought out an interesting/challenging/poking discussion on a study about ‘lifelong bilinguals’ {Study: Bilinguals Have Faster Brains} and the development of their brains… also, worth to check it out [I clearly did, it’s part of who I’m… that said, I had no other option but to join the discussion forum with my 2 cents growing up as a nomad child, and now a ‘trailing spouse’ and mother to 3 TCKs].

I’m always on the lookout for interesting resources for supporting our toddlers’ learning, I stumbled upon this very interesting article from Multilingual Living, which I’m sharing below.

A very good resource for parents of TCKs, homeschooling parents, or any parent concerned about improving their children’s learning skills, without loosing track of reality.  From our “tentative trilingual home” to yours

Good reading!

Benefits of Multilingualism

By Michał B. Paradowski
Institute of Applied Linguistics,
 University of Warsaw

The advantages that multilinguals exhibit over monolinguals are not restricted to linguistic knowledge only, but extend outside the area of language. The substantial long-lived cognitive, social, personal, academic, and professional benefits of enrichment bilingual contexts have been well documented. Children and older persons learning foreign languages have been demonstrated to:

  • have a keener awareness and sharper perception of language. Foreign language learning “enhances children’s understanding of how language itself works and their ability to manipulate language in the service of thinking and problem solving”; 
  • be more capable of separating meaning from form;
  • learn more rapidly in their native language (L1), regardless of race, gender, or academic level;
  • be more efficient communicators in the L1;
  • be consistently better able to deal with distractions, which may help offset age-related declines in mental dexterity;
  • develop a markedly better language proficiency in, sensitivity to, and understanding of their mother tongue;
  • develop a greater vocabulary size over age, including that in their L1;
  • have a better ear for listening and sharper memories;
  • be better language learners in institutionalized learning contexts because of more developed language-learning capacities owing to the more complex linguistic knowledge and higher language awareness;
  • have increased ability to apply more reading strategies effectively due to their greater experience in language learning and reading in two—or more—different languages;
  • develop not only better verbal, but also spatial abilities;
  • parcel up and categorize meanings in different ways;
  • display generally greater cognitive flexibility, better problem solving and higher-order thinking skills;
  • a person who speaks multiple languages has a stereoscopic vision of the world from two or more perspectives, enabling them to be more flexible in their thinking, learn reading more easily. Multilinguals, therefore, are not restricted to a single world-view, but also have a better understanding that other outlooks are possible. Indeed, this has always been seen as one of the main educational advantages of language teaching”; 
  • multilinguals can expand their personal horizons and—being simultaneously insiders and outsiders—see their own culture from a new perspective not available to monoglots, enabling the comparison, contrast, and understanding of cultural concepts;
  • be better problem-solvers gaining multiple perspectives on issues at hand;
  • have improved critical thinking abilities;
  • better understand and appreciate people of other countries, thereby lessening racism, xenophobia, and intolerance, as the learning of a new language usually brings with it a revelation of a new culture;
  • learn further languages more quickly and efficiently than their hitherto monolingual peers;
  • to say nothing of the social and employment advantages of being bilingual {Study: Bilinguals Have Faster Brains}– offering the student the ability to communicate with people s/he would otherwise not have the chance to interact with, and increasing job opportunities in many careers {The Value In Being Bilingual or Multilingual}.

Posted by on October 4, 2016 in EDUCATION, LANGUAGE, resources, TCKs


Tags: , , , , , , ,

21 responses to ““To have a second language is to possess a second soul” (Charlemagne)

  1. Andrew Weiler

    April 6, 2013 at 12:40 am

    No doubt about the benefits of being multilingual..on many fronts. What is a shame however that so few people who set out on the journey ever complete it! Why? Not because they are not capable. We already have amply demonstrated that we are. There are a few issues that get in the way, one of the more destructive factors being the way most of us have been taught in schools and hence influences us for the rest of our lives. A few succeed using those means, but most don’t
    We need to leave those influences behind and find ones that work, that are empowering and respect the awesome abilities all of us were endowed with at birth.


  2. learnitalianforfun

    February 8, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    That’s amazing! I love studying and speaking foreign languages 😀 thanks for sharing!


  3. frizztext

    January 19, 2013 at 7:21 am

    “To have a second language
    is to possess a second soul”
    for sure, but maybe every people we meet
    = like discovering a new language too!


    • 3rdCultureChildren

      January 19, 2013 at 8:48 am

      Absolutely! I’m sure we all have seconds, third souls… We’re all unique, complex, and beautiful… Meeting somebody new, somebody for the first time, or ‘re-discovering’ somebody is one of the most beautiful events in life! 😮 Thanks for stopping by, Frizz!


  4. mariadesuede

    January 17, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    D’accordo, lo ho capito perché parlo più di sei lingue..
    D’accord, je l’ai compris parce que je parle plus de six langues…
    Instämmer, jag förstod det därför att jag pratar fler än sex spràk…
    I agréé, I did understand this because I speak more than six languages…


    • 3rdCultureChildren

      January 17, 2013 at 6:03 pm

      Good for you, Maria de Suede! 😮 Although, one didn’t need to speak six languages to understand that… the original quote is in French, but it became quite popular in English! Thanks for stopping by!


  5. (D)OCULAR

    August 19, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Being Belgian I’m multilingual, Dutch (my mother tongue), French, English and a little notion of German, not all of them perfect, but I get by.

    occasionally I find myself thinking in English or French (even in German although I just have a little notion of it :D)

    It’s very nice to know more than one language, it definitely helps in foreign countries, especially because nobody understands my mother tongue :D…

    I recommend it to every one, and don’ be afraid to make mistakes, the fact you are trying to speak someone else’s language is (almost) always appreciated. Also ask them to correct you if you say something completely wrong, that’s how you learn it… And the most important thing, the younger you start, the better.



    • 3rdCultureChildren

      August 19, 2012 at 4:37 pm

      I totally agree with you! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences over here… i believe that it’s such a rich experience, and something one carries on, forever! 😮


  6. Heather Dray

    November 14, 2011 at 12:37 am

    I was TERRIBLE at learning a second language – but I didn’t take Spanish until I was a sophomore in high school. I just couldn’t get it, despite a few more years of high school/college. But my kids? We’ve been feeding them new words Spanish since they were wee little, and now they’re learning Arabic in their new school. It’s something we think is important, and I hope it will make (all the above!) difference for them. Thanks for sharing all of this!


    • 3rd Culture Children

      November 13, 2011 at 1:31 pm

      Heather, thank you for taking the time to check this post out, and comment, sharing your experiences! When I first started this blog, my original idea was to have a channel to share our travel experiences (and pretty pictures!) with our family and friends. Later, the blog developed/morphed into a forum for other parents/expats, when we realized that we were all experiencing similar challenges, when it came to adjusting to new realities… i have not lost the original focus of this travel/family blog, but it makes me really happy to know that there are others out there, interested, concerned, curious, with a bit to share. I do appreciate any input, and I’m glad with all the positive feedback, especially regarding the “resources” part… At the end, we’re all the same: we’re all parents, we all have a life story, we’re trying our best to minimize our mistakes… Trailing spouses, second career parents, new moms/dads… you name it! And we’re all raising our children under a multi-cultural, multi-language environment. If we’re succeeding? Only time will tell us. Hopefully, we’re on the right track, and our experiences and teaching will not get “lost in translation”! ;o Thanks so much for your input. Please keep them coming! Cheers and greetings from Brazil!


  7. Rois

    November 14, 2011 at 12:11 am

    Thanks for sharing! It is actually very true! Thanks to my mum who encouraged me to learn English begining at age of 6, I consider myself speaking good English, so I am kind of bilingual 🙂 (even trilingual, but still have to improve a lot my Spanish), so I’ve experienced almost all of the above. I like most this part of the article:
    “a person who speaks multiple languages has a stereoscopic vision of the world from two or more perspectives, enabling them to be more flexible in their thinking, learn reading more easily. Multilinguals, therefore, are not restricted to a single world-view, but also have a better understanding that other outlooks are possible. Indeed, this has always been seen as one of the main educational advantages of language teaching”.
    Unfortunatelly can’t teach my child Portuguese, which should be his second language, but I hope I’ll at least manage to teach him the basic of English or Spanish. And of course I hope he will speak and write correctly in Bulgarian. 🙂


    • 3rd Culture Children

      November 13, 2011 at 1:35 pm

      Rois, thanks again for sharing your multi-cultural experiences. As I’d stated earlier, I do appreciate the use of this blog as a forum for other expatriates. It’s incredibly satisfying to see the outcome. I enjoy searching for new information, and bringing them out here to the other followers and/or readers. I feel like I’m contributing my “2 cents” to a better discussion, who knows? ;o Hopefully, both of our families will turn out fine regarding multi-languages, with a better perception of reality, and a much better understanding of different cultures! Cheers and thanks from Recife, Brazil!



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