More languages to more people – An information service for multilingual families based on research

This post is also available in: Norwegian Bokmål, Russian, Sami

 

Flere språk til flere (More languages to more people) has two locations, one at UiT – The Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø and one at NTNU -The Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim. Both are branches of the information service Bilingualism Matters at the University of Edinburgh. This service is run by Professor Antonella Sorace who is one of the world’s leading researchers within bilingualism.

Norway As a Multilingual Society
Norway is a multilingual society where, according to Statistics Norway, more than 300 different languages are spoken. In a population of only 5,3 million, this wide range of languages holds significant potential for cultural diversity and economic opportunity. In many parts of the world, it is common for children to be exposed to two or even more languages right from birth. In Europe, however, bilingualism or multilingualism is a relatively recent phenomenon. As a consequence, growing up with more than one language is often regarded as ’special’ and even dangerous for a child’s development, and multilingualism is often surrounded by negative beliefs and misunderstandings. This is largely due to a lack of information. ’Flere språk til flere’ (more languages to more people) will try to improve on this situation by informing the public about the benefits of bilingualism and by encouraging families, educators, and policy makers to support children’s development of multiple languages.

Benefits of Multilingualism
Research has shown that bilingualism is beneficial for children’s development. Children exposed to different languages become more aware of different cultures and other people’s views. But they also tend to be better than monolinguals at ’multitasking’ and focusing attention; they often are more precocious readers, and generally tend to find it easier to learn other languages. Bilingualism gives children much more than two languages!

You can read more about the benefits of bilingualism in this article from The New York Times.

Short story of our logo
Our logo is a young kid who says hello in four languages, representing all the children in Norway who grow up with more than one language. The child in our logo looks happy, and not at all confused. He or she knows what a great gift being multilingual is!

We could have included many more languages, but we chose four that are well represented in Tromsø, the location of our first branch: Norwegian (hei), North Sami (bures), Russian (privet) and Arabic (marhaba). The child in the logo was drawn by a young student in Italy, Elisabetta Wolleb.