A study has revealed that half of the children living and going to school in Brussels are multilingual.
Only half of Brussels’ children (51%) grows up in a family in which French is the only language, according to a study of 4,233 toddlers held by the French-speaking university ULB at the request of the Observatoire de l’enfant, reported La Libre Belgique.
The other half speaks two, three or more languages at home. ULB-sociologist Perrine Humblet thinks that institutions, nurseries and schools should take greater account of multilingualism.
83% of the respondents spoke French. In 46% of the families, at least one other language is spoken, in 3% of the families, at least two other languages.
The ULB study is not clear about the other languages are, but other research indicates that it is mostly Dutch and English. “In lesser quantities, it is also Arabic, Spanish and Italian,” said Humblet to Bruzz.
She beleives institutions should see plurilingualism, the ability to switch between multiple languages depending on the situation for ease of communication, as a new thing that nurseries and schools should also take into account. Not every child starts with the same basic knowledge of French. Educators should be better prepared to deal with that, so that children will not miss out on learning.
Humblet also stressed that all native tongues should be seen as equal. “A child speaking English at home is seen as a good thing, whereas when it is Arabic or Lingala, it is often seen as an obstacle,” she added.
The Brussels Times