How to Promote Bilingualism and Multiculturalism

Globe with multicultural children holding hands

Multicultural world of children

At a recent workshop on blogging by seasoned blogger Bill Belew, I learned of a book and site that chronicles the experience of being bilingual in the United States from a young bicultural girl’s point of view. Hearing of this book made me realize how the interest in bilingualism is spreading and how cultures are blending more and more. It is also becoming easier and easier to find resources on bilingualism and other languages and cultures.

One of the easiest ways to promote bilingualism and multiculturalism is to read and share books about the the multicultural experience. These can be in one language or bilingual. You may even find some that are written in more than three langauges. Even if you don’t know the language of the bilingual book, you can discuss the words or the way they look (if the writing system is different from English) with your child. Some books, like the famous Dora the Explorer books will offer the possibility for expanded learning and exposure through television shows, video and games you can buy.

Share these books with friends and family. Read them to your children. Enjoy them on your own as you learn other languages. We are all kids again when it comes to learning another language! With the the vast resources of the Internet and “shrinking of the globe,” there’s no reason why we can’t learn more about other cultures and languages.

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The Value of Multilingualism

Multilingual Cat

Being multilingual can help even a cat, who can confuse a predator dog with a simple “Bow-wow.” There are actually cats who have been known to do this!! There are also some great jokes (used famously by foreign language teachers to inspire their students). Here’s one about a Bilingual Mouse:

Three mice are being chased by a cat. After a few minutes, the mice are cornered by thecat, with no chance of escape. But as the cat moves forward, one of the mice suddenly shouts, “Woof, woof, woof!”and the surprised cat runs away. Later, the mice tell their mother what happened. She smiles and says, “You see, it pays to be bilingual.”

You can find many variations of that same type of joke. Here’s another that also shows the value of bilingualism:

A police dog responds to an ad for work with the FBI. “Well,” says the personnel director, “you’ll have to meet some strict requirements. First, you must type at least 60 words per minute.” Sitting down at the typewriter, the dog types out 80 words per minute.  “Also,” says the director, “you must pass a physical and complete the obstacle course.” This perfect dog specimen finishes the course in record time. “There’s one last requirement,” the director continues; “you must be bilingual.” With confidence, the dog looks up at him and says, “Meow!”

Keeping to the theme of humor, here’s a joke you must put on your French accent for. It’s called “the finest Franglais pun ever coined.”

It’s been claimed that the French navy adopted a new, uplifting slogan to spur its seamen on to valour and glory in France’s hour of need. “To the water! The hour has come!”. Or, in French: “A l’eau. C’est l’heure!”

Keeping to the French: Why don’t the French eat two eggs for breakfast? Because one egg is un oeuf!

Speaking of multilingualism, there’s an excellent site called “My China Connection” that has lots of great information. Click on the name of the site to access it.

Do you have a favorite joke or bilingual site? Tell me about it!