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#188 Multilingual Kids

December 7, 2012

Submitted by Valérie

OMG she is just the smartest child ever!

When facing a difficult meeting with a hostile EAW (the guy from the international organization that is about to duplicate your project, or the one competing for the co-financing that would earn you this year’s bonus…) or a key meeting with a strategically important EAW (someone who might be your next boss, or the one that might award you the co- financing that would earn you this year’s bonus…), it’s always a good idea to know if the person has children.

Once you know that, you have found your in. Maneuver the conversation around to the topic of multilingual kids and you are about to score more brownie points than you ever could with the most brilliant power point presentation of impacts and success stories.

Long-standing EAWs typically have around 3 kids born in at least 2 different countries, and these kids are geniuses. You will hear about how the older one, who was born in Laos but spent his 5 first years in Tanzania and attends French school usually prefers to speak Dutch with her grandma. You’ll be in awe at the youngest one, who speaks American English with his parents but British English at school and is working on a hilarious comic book about the differences between the two. And you’ll be amazed to learn that the three kids have developed their own Creole of Lingala and Quechua as their common secret language.

If you’re lucky, the EAW will have some pop statistics about how children who speak multiple languages are more intelligent and socially adept than those who only speak one language, and how speaking more than one language makes children have better problem solving abilities and more developed activity in the regions of the brain that deal with empathy. This helps the EAW feel OK about moving the children around every few years, having a variety of local women do the majority of the child rearing and putting aid work first.

Keep the monologue going through simple questions and well-placed exclamations of “wow” and “oh my god, that’s impressive”. You are almost there – that EAW is going to love you.

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