Communication and relationships

mother tongues stories

We are a small family of three. I am a French mother living in Dublin since my teenage years, and with my Irish partner, we have a daughter. I see my ability to ensure she speaks French as a gift that I would be selfish to keep to myself.

mother_tonguesThe technical side of being bilingual is useful of course: being able to settle in various countries, being able to learn new languages with perhaps a little more ease, having more chances of finding a job. But for me, the most important lesson is to make my child aware that despite all having different tongues, we are all humans and we can all communicate.
I feel that children who grow up without hearing other languages are less likely to approach others in the playground and they are more reticent to communicate with foreign children and therefore are more reticent as adults.

My favourite moment was witnessing my daughter play when she was a toddler (and only speaking French) with a handful of bilingual and trilingual children. None of them spoke the same language, yet they had no problem at all to communicate and have fun with each other. I feel that Dublin is the best setting for this, as it is swarming with the wealth of a myriad of first-generation immigrants.

In a paradoxical way, I think bilingualism transcends the need for language as it encourages people to communicate rather than speak. 

Author: Emilie Akoka

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