First of all I need to say thank you for this site! I plan to write my dissertation on multilingual children and Iam finding so much interesting information!
I would like to quickly thank all parents who have decided to pass on the most valuable gift of all- language. My mother was an exchange student in the United States from Sweden and fell in love with my father who is American. Though they planned to live in Sweden they ended up moving back to Maine soon after I was born. My mother once told me that she remembers sitting at Logan Airport in Boston singing to me in her arms as she said good bye to her homeland. But my mother was determined to make me aware of my heritage and even more importantly, to give me the ability to communicate with my Swedish family, above all my wonderful grandparents. So she did.
But it was certainly a rough road. People criticized her for confusing me and "stunting" my mental growth! I realize that little was known of the advages of a second language at the time, but can we really expect someone to cast away their own language when they feel torn from their home? Besides, the most natural thing for a mother is to speak the mother tongue to their children (though I certainly applaud those who introduce to their children their second language!!) and in a place where she much have felt so alone, isn't the most comforting relationship the one with your own child?
And thanks to my brave mother, I could, at the age of two, translate word for word from English to Swedish and vise versa. As could my brothers. And after my Swedish was stable I learned how easy other languages were, even those that were non- germanic like French. I pursued French because I found that it was my passion and when I graduated I placed 5th for my scores on the National French Test and 1st in teh state of Maine!
Thanks to a mother who wouldn't listen to the criticism of her communtiy and who is now a fantastic High School English teacher, I've found my passion in life. I currently live in Sweden and am a French major. I honestly don't know what I would be studying or if I would have the same will to continue my education if I didn't have languages as my strength.
So if you're wondering if you should introduce your child to a new language, do it! It's the smartest investment in your child's future!