Bringing up multilingual children

In August, I developed and led a workshop with multilingual families who had children in ABC Head Start’s summer camp program. Over lunch, we talked about bilingualism and strategies to support children’s language development. Families shared their experiences of feeling isolated after moving to Canada and having young children. They shared feeling worried that they were not doing the right thing by speaking their home language.  They felt lucky to have had the support and encouragement of ABC Headstart to keep using their home language – but still wondered how to help support their child’s language development.  I talked about goals and practical strategies for using one’s home language.  Such an interesting discussion – thanks ABC HSS for hosting!

MLF Lab went to camp!

In July 2021, the Multilingual Families Lab partnered once again with ABC Head Start Society to provide a dual-language program in their Summer Camp! Wendy, Rita and Natalie adapted and led the activities this summer. We had so much fun collaborating with teachers to discuss bilingualism with children.  Within this summer camp context, we met with children three times to talk about being bilingual.  In our little group of children, more than 10 languages were spoken: Punjabi, Somali, German, Harari, Tagalog, Tamil, Bambara, Urdu, Malayalam and French. Amazing! We learned how to say “Hello” in different languages and read stories in multiple languages.  We helped children create their own dual-language book using their home language and their own drawings.

International Multilingualism Day

The Multilingual Families Lab is celebrating International Multilingualism Day!

International Multilingualism Day aims to celebrate linguistic diversity and the multi-layered way we use languages in our everyday lives. For many families, speaking more than one language has many advantages, from maintaining ties with your extended family to opening up job opportunities. Research in our lab is contributing to a broader understanding of multilingual language development: all children can learn more than one language. Keys to this learning are fostering opportunities, valuing the languages being learned, and making it fun.

A key message of International Multilingualism Day: “There is no *right* way to do languages. There is only your way. And that’s what matters.” We could not have said it better!

Inspired by Aviak Johnston’s book “What is your superpower?“, our lab brainstormed about what brought us together as students, researchers, and individuals. What brought us together is our languageS and cultureS – we are excited to learn from our families and each other and connect. We have integrated this in our lab motto – and made it multilingual! It was fun to put our collective 12 languages to work to share our superpowers.

Lab Motto

Join us in celebrate multilingualism – in whatever way that looks like for you!


Flying Canoë Volant #YEG

In the Mill Creek Ravine of Edmonton, a special cultural celebration took place the first week of March 2021. The Flying Canoë Volant is a festival inspired by a tale that highlights cultures of the French Canadians, Métis, and First Nations. This tale is the story of woodcutters that wanted to visit their loved ones. The only way they could see them in their far away location and be back the next day for work was to fly on a canoe. They made a deal with the devil for a magical flying canoe, but in return they could not swear or touch the cross of church steeples along the way. Will they make it back home…? You can find out by reading a version of this tale, La Chasse-galerie, written by Honoré Beaugrand in 1892. Several Multilingual Families Lab members joined this celebration of local history and cultures in an enchanted winter environment where safety measures were a priority. 

Le Guide du Programme StimuLER

C’est avec plaisir qu’on partage notre Guide du Programme StimuLER: Un programme communautaire de soutien au développement langagier des enfants réfugiés ou nouveau arrivants.

Le programme de Stimulation langagière pour les enfants réfugiés (StimuLER) a été initié en 2015 par Dre. Andrea MacLeod et Mme Sabah Meziane, orthophoniste aux études doctorales, dans le but de répondre aux besoins des enfants réfugiés et nouveaux arrivants. Il est important d’intégrer les deux langues de l’enfant pour enrichir à la fois la langue maternelle et la langue seconde et ainsi réduire les risques de perte de la langue maternelle, ainsi que les conséquences négatives qui en découlent. 

C’est avec grand plaisir que nous partageons ce guide libre d’accès!


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