I met Elodie at one of my workshops. She had a French accent and was very curious about the concepts of first and second language. Her son was just a baby when she participated in my “Cross Cultural Awareness” course for public administrators in the Queensland government.
As a migrant, Elodie felt the gap at work between locals and migrants was widening. She came to my course to get some insights into possible ways to bridge this gap.
When she left, she said, “I’m so happy I met you when my son is just a baby. Everything so makes sense now and I have full confident about what I need to do”.
In the last two years, I’ve met Elodie a few of times when she was trying to organize a group at her workplace to support migrants and help locals and migrants communicate better with each other.
This week, she sent me this email:
Did I tell you my son can count to 15 in his 3 languages? Just turned 2… Speak to him in one language and he answers in another, never needs translation… It freaks some people, I find it fascinating. You gave me the best advice ever first time I spoke with you. Thanks, it really means a lot to me.
We speak English (all of us), French (me) and Italian (husband and my in-laws).
He spends 1 day/week with his Italian grandmother who only speaks Italian to him (with your recommendation, we asked and she is very happy to comply). I go home once a year where he baths in French and has no problem whatsoever communicating with other kids and adults.
It is the most amazing thing to observe, the non-translating part. For example, he learned face, lips, ears, eyes, etc in Italian and I was thinking oh I need to get him that in French too so we had a mummy/son moment and I was saying them in French and he already knew. Bizarre.
Life in a multilingual environment!
Thank you so much.
A/Senior Administration Officer, Compliance Support Unit
Department of Environment and Resource Management
Yet another victory of one more family raising multilingual super kids.