Bilingual children, more open to the world
Belonging to an ethnic minority is not as simple as we think, especially when it has to adapt to the society in which it lives and to comply with the new rules. Besides the endless adaptation to the majority community in which they live, learning the language or culture, in some cases, members of a minority make an effort to preserve their own traditions. For an elderly person, the whole process may prove exhausting, sometimes much too demanding. For children, however, this can be an opportunity to expand their horizons.
Being bilingual is both a necessity and a fashion, given the Eurostat statistics: the number of foreigners (people who are not citizens of their country of residence) living on the territory of a Member State of the EU on 1 January 2011 was 33. 3 million people, the equivalent to 6.6% of the population of the 27 countries included in the Union at the time of the study.
Another study conducted in 2013 by the University of Granada, Spain, pointed out that the children brought up in a bilingual environment have a better working memory than those who grew up knowing just one language. In addition, they have a superior ability of understanding, a language and communication more developed at a lexical and significance level compared with those of a child who only knows his mother tongue. Bilingual people have a great advantage: knowing another culture and another language, they tear down the language barriers and manage to interpret a situation from two perspectives: one, represented by their own culture, and the other one based on the culture they gathered.
Parents who decide to raise their child in a bilingual way usually come from two different cultures. They can choose to teach their child only the language of the country where they live or their native language, too. A language is learned through interaction, games or by embracing several groups that teach foreign languages. It is preferable for a child to know as many languages, because learning is more effective if the child is smaller. Bilingualism has a strong positive impact on the mental state of a child.
Many bilingual people have chosen to keep their own customs, although they are fluent in a new language. They’ve adapted and borrowed only the values they felt they needed.
Ethnic minorities in our country are encouraged by Cultural Agora @ Your Library to tell their story. This is a project initiated by the National Association of Libraries and Librarians in Romania (ANBPR) inviting representatives of various ethnic minorities to share their life stories, their culture, language and authentic values they believe in, through the digital storytelling technology.
Cultural Agora @ Your Library is a project implemented by ANBPR in affiliation with Jazzmontor AS Norvegia and REPLIKA Cultural Association, financed through the SEE 2009-2014 Grants, the PA17/RO13 Programme “The Promotion of diversity of culture and art within the European heritage” (www.fonduri-diversitate.ro) in Romania.