Category Archives: bilingual

An expat child has many layers of influence – Your Expat Child

Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory This was mentioned in Rianne Cornelisse’s paper about how expat children adapt when returning home. What is the theory of Bronfenbrenner all about? In this model the child is the centre of its own system. The layers are built from the inside out. The first layer … Read More on

See on Scoop.itInternational Career




The Expat Child blog written by Carole Hallett Mobbs has great resources to rise children abroad and she is also a consultant for expats and their children

Here a selection about multilingualism:


Bilingualism and biculturalism are related, but they are not the same thing.

See on Scoop.itGlobal Leaders

Anne Egros‘s insight:

A very much-needed explanation on the distinction of bilingualism and biculturalism.

For example, too often managers are chosen for their abilities to speak the local language but someone can have a better cultural sensitivity and be  more successful without speaking the local language.

Here more about empirical evidences that languages can shape behaviours but cannot make you multicultural :

Related articles:

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Neuromyths Busting and Education

English: PET scan of a normal human brain

English: PET scan of a normal human brain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The OECD’s Brain and Learning project (2002) emphasized that many misconceptions about the brain exist among professionals in the field of education. Though these so-called “neuromyths” are loosely based on scientific facts, they may have adverse effects on educational practice. 

Here the list of some of the biggest neuromyths, or misguided beliefs about brain functions and their impact on learning and education design:

1-We use only 10 percent of our brains.

Wikipedia collected the refutations of the myth in its  “Ten Percent Of The Brain Myth” page Neuroscientist Barry Beyerstein sets out several kinds of evidence refuting the ten percent myth, here the top three most evident for me:

  • Studies of brain damage: If 90% of the brain is normally unused, then damage to these areas should not impair performance. Instead, there is almost no area of the brain that can be damaged without loss of abilities. Even slight damage to small areas of the brain can have profound effects.
  • Brain scans have shown that no matter what we’re doing, our brains are always active up to 45%. Some areas are more active at any one time than others, but unless we have brain damage, there is no one part of the brain that is absolutely not functioning.
  • Brain imaging: Technologies such as positron emission tomography (PET) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) allow the activity of the living brain to be monitored. They reveal that even during sleep, all parts of the brain show some level of activity. Only in the case of serious damage does a brain have “silent” areas.

2-The brain is static, unchanging, and set before you start school. The most widely accepted conclusion of current research in neuroscience is  neuroplasticity: Our brains grow, change, and adapt at all times in our lives depending on stimulus received from our environment. Therefore the more we use our brain at any age, the more we can develop connections and learn new skills even new languages. Experts routinely take the time to learn, unlearn and relearn relevant information related to their fields of expertise. There is a lot of new research going on in the field of cultural neurosciences, looking at the relations existing between cultural dimensions and the brain’s plasticity. Although most people think that good memory means good retrieval, good memory is actually good learning–forming a strong association when acquiring new information.

3-Some people are left-brained and some are right-brained. Like many other myths, this one has emerged from a misunderstanding of experiments made by 1981 Nobel Prize winner Roger Sperry, who noticed differences in the brain when he studied people whose left and right brains had been surgically disconnected. Today, neuroscientists know that the two sides of the brain work together to perform a wide variety of tasks and that the two hemispheres communicate through the corpus callosum.

4-Male and female brains are radically different. Though there may be subtle differences between male and female brains, there is absolutely no significant evidence to suggest that the genders learn or should be taught differently. 

5-The ages 0-3 are more important than any other age for learning. Even though the connections between neurons, called synapses, are greatest in number during this period there are few studies that have to do with teaching during these “critical” time periods.

Still, there are some powerful insights emerging from brain science that speak directly to how we teach in the classroom: learning experiences do help the brain grow, emotional safety does influence learning, and making lessons relevant can help information stick. The trick is separating the meat from the marketing.

 Related resources:

Living Abroad: In What Language Do You Feel Emotions ?

A bilingual French-Dutch traffic sign in Brussels

A bilingual French-Dutch traffic sign in Brussels (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I came across this interesting article about some studies on languages used by multilingual third culture kids (TCKs) to express various emotions in different situations.

Language is strongly tied to identity and when we speak more than one language the one we chose to speak  is often very specific to certain contexts and the sociocultural environment.  When I was based in Japan, I have been intrigued to see French siblings speaking Japanese while playing together at home even if there were in a French school with Japanese students but with French parents 

As far as emotions is concerned I have not observed any specific language pattern in my son to express emotions and feelings. My son will often speak to me in English when it is about a story he is reading or a movie he is watching or to tell what happened at school but Interestingly he has certain movies that he watches exclusively in French and others exclusively in English without apparent specific rules except the obvious ones like watching “Harry Potter” in English because the story is based in England and because he reads the books in English. Also movies that mock the French accent like in the Pink Panther series. 

When he is with French adults he uses sophisticated vocabulary with few grammar errors and with younger French children he will show a lot of non-verbal empathy. With English speakers he will use exclusively English both for facts or expressing emotions. At home with us, when arguing or upset he often switches to English but not always.

Since he has been in a bilingual environment from birth to now, 10 years later,  his brain has probably been developed differently than mine who acquired bilingualism later as a young adult. Some researches in neuroscience have shown that when learning two languages almost simultaneously there is one unique zone in the brain that is activated for language perception and interpretation while when the second language is acquired later as adults there are two distinct parts that are activated for each language.

In my case, I think in English for work and I prefer to write in English too. I read business or self-help books in English but read novels, thrillers and other form of non-professional literature exclusively in French. However interestingly I write in my personal Facebook profile mainly in English unless there are specific jokes I can’t translate from French to English that I will share with my circle of fiends who speak French. I use Twitter and Linkedin exclusively in English because for me they are  professional tools and I can’t share emotions on those platforms.

According to François Grosjean, Ph.D.,  Emeritus Professor of psycholinguistics at the University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland. it is too simplistic to suggest that late bilinguals have emotional ties only with their first language and no ties with their other language(s). In his article Emotions in More than One Language” he mentioned many cases of people who don’t use the first language or mother tongue to express emotions but may use one language or another based on  their emotional experiences in various languages.

 In sum, expressing emotions in more than one language follows no set rules; some bilinguals prefer to use one language, some the other, and some both-Francois Grosjean

What about your experience as bilingual or raising bilingual children ?

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