Grandmothers Tell a Story

Immigrants (and often migrants) know both the advantages of being bilingual and bicultural, and also the frustrations. Host societies can be intolerant and impatient but bilinguals interpret all the time, because nothing is simple once you have two words for one thing, and two grammatical frameworks. Everyday speech is either difficult when it fails or magical when it works. This amounts to linguistic sophistication that schools are slow to recognize. The arbitrary nature of language is no surprise to people who live in two or more languages; nor is the need for care in communication. Bringing bilingual families into their children’s formal education benefits students with enhanced self–esteem. It also boosts the resolve of parents. And schools learn to love the sophistication of difficulty and diversity.