According to an investigation carried out from a researcher of the ULB, at the request of the Observatory of the child, in Brussels, 50% of children (one in two) grow up in a family where several languages are spoken. This has been reported by Belgian news outlet La Libre Belgique.
The study shows that for half of all children (51%), French is the only language spoken at home. While in 46% of families, another language is spoken and 3% at least other two. The investigation doesn’t reveal exactly which are the other languages spoken, but other studies carried out within the adult population show that it is mainly English and Dutch. According to Perrine Humblet, sociologist and doctor in Public Health Sciences at the ULB, follow “Arabic, Spanish and Italian, followed by other languages of the world”.
The sociologist continues stating that this multilingualism is a new norm that institutions should take into account. This new situation must be taken into consideration in nurseries and schools. In fact, the researcher stresses the importance of valuing all mother tongues. “Institutions are not aware that these children are full of skills. If a child speaks English at home, it is positive, but if he speaks Arabic or Lingala, plurilingualism is likely to be considered an obstacle”. According to her, is, therefore, necessary to use these mother languages, whatever they are, as a teaching tool to value all languages.