On your bicycle, or maybe tricicle

El Pais published a long report on the issue of bilingualism and trilingualism this Sunday. The issue is of course of particular interest in areas of Spain where apart from Spanish there is a local language such as Basque, Catalan or Gallego and also the need to have a third language such as English on the agenda.

The article begins with a discussion of whether or not being trilingual is just as easy as being bilingual. There are arguments for and against this but ultimately the conclusion is that not enough research has been done.

In terms of aiming for a trilingual education system the key of course will the teacher training as we all know. An expert from China also, however, stressed the importance of parents contribution in terms of how important they value the languages involved. In just three decades English has replaced Russian in China as the language most valued by parents as being useful  and therefore most successfully implemented in the educational system

Interesting stuff although I would have welcomed some more detailed description of what being bilingual or trilingual actually entails. Are they referring to speaking or using a second or third language efficiently or actually being bilingual or trilingual in what I would consider the proper sense of these words. I know many people who, being native Spanish or English speakers, also speak the other language with a high degree of fluency and many of our kids do so as well but I remain hesitant when it comes to defining somebody as being bilingual. It really isn’t that easy, is it?

Your comments on this more than welcome and meanwhile the original article (in Spanish) is at : http://tinyurl.com/7tkm3ot

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