A linguist has spoken out about a report from the Department of Internal Affairs in New Zealand, a country where over 160 languages are spoken, that she feels put maintaining your first language in a bad light when it comes to integration in moving to a new country.
She claims the report emphasises a negative correlation between maintaining a heritage language and gaining proficiency in English.
“It’s crucial for [non-English speaking] parents to feel vindicated in speaking their own language with their children. We’re talking about the transfer of cultural knowledge, which can be crucial to the healthy development of children of immigrant background. Language carries deep cultural roots and the foundations of identity.”
Dr Arianna Berardi-Wiltshire, Linguist
Language connects us not only to members of our family who may or may not acquire the same level of proficiency in a new language being acquired, but also connects us to our country of origin, older ancestors or family members still based there as well as numerous cultural and historical reference points that it would be un-wise to entirely lose touch with or even neglect. While there are numerous benefits to acquiring a new language, especially in looking for work in your new home or beginning studies there. However, new cultures have much to bring to the counties they move or travel to. One of the loveliest things about meeting people from other countries, and one of the easiest ways to begin a conversation with them is to ask them to teach you a small bit of their language. Learn to say hello, how are you in theirs and you’ll also be contributing to better integration too.
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