Multilingualism in a Culturally Diverse World
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Multilingualism in a Culturally Diverse World

If you’re an educator supporting children learning various languages, at different developmental stages and in different contexts and geographies, then don’t miss Kaja Jasinska, a cognitive neuroscientist interested in understanding how early life experience changes the brain’s capacity for language and learning. 

“We found that school children who are learning two languages from birth actually outperform monolingual children on tasks that measure a child’s awareness of and ability to manipulate sounds of languages.”

As well as Kaja’s insights, in this episode we hear from three teachers in different geographical regions around the world, all of whom support children whose mother tongue is perhaps not the same as the language in which they are being taught. 

“A child’s first language skills support their second language skills and literacy skills… we want to ensure that children are able to fully learn that first language and that should be the language that parents and caregivers are most proficient at.”- Kaja Jasinska

First we hear from Daniela, an Italian language facilitator supporting young bilingual kids in Luxembourg. Daniela works with young children supporting the link between heritage language, local languages and the development of early literacy.

“After one year of storytelling in Italian, I arrived one day without a voice. I asked them to tell me the story. They narrated me the most beautiful story I have ever heard, mimicking my voice and intonation. It was even more beautiful than the author’s story.” – Daniela

Then we travel to Nigeria to meet Olasunkanmi, an innovative international teacher prize winner who teaches English to lower secondary school students in a public school in a suburban area of Abuja.

“For me as a teacher what is rewarding has always been my results. My students can give me up to 90% pass rate… nothing makes me happier than that… I feel fulfilled seeing that.” – Olasunkanmi

Finally we hear from Jose Luis, who tries to infuse his love of Spanish into older kids in an international private school in Singapore.

“What I try to teach to them is the spirit of the language… how it feels to think in Spanish, how it feels to write in Spanish.” – Jose Luis

Stay tuned until the very end to hear our expert, Kaja, share some observations on how educators might best support bilingual and multilingual children. 

On today’s podcast:

  • What’s happening in the brain of a multilingual child in the first few years of development
  • How multilingualism affects reading development in children
  • A child’s first language skills support their second language skills & literacy skills 
  • Quality education is key
Nina Alonso
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