Bilingualism and aging: Can you lose a language? [Transcript]

June 15, 2023

00:00:15 – 00:01:20
Sharon: Welcome to Kletsheads, the podcast about bilingual children. My name is Sharon Unsworth, linguist at Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. A mother of two bilingual children. This episode of Kletsheads is all about bilingualism and aging. Is it possible to forget a language you learnt as a child when you’re older and can being bilingual actually help you as you get older? Acting as a kind of therapy for your aging brain, Researcher Merel Keijzer is going to tell us the answers. I’ve also got another quick and easy for you, a concrete tip you can put into practice straight away to make the most out of the bilingualism in your family, class or clinic. Our Kletshead of the week is the nine year old Yujin growing up in the UK and he tells us how he would feel if he forgot his two heritage languages, Korean and French, and could only speak English. Keep listening to find out more.

00:01:20 – 00:03:03
Sharon: If we’re lucky, we’ll all grow old. And if we’re even luckier, we’ll stay healthy for as long as possible. But even if we stay healthy, it’s inevitable that we slow down both physically and mentally. We often don’t function as well as we used to. As we get older, we become forgetful and we may also develop problems like dementia. Research shows that being bilingual might help when it comes to slowing down these kinds of problems. Why is this the case and does this apply to all bilinguals? In this episode, I’m joined by language scientist from the University of Groningen, Merel Keijzer, and she’s going to tell us the answers to those questions and more. I started by asking Merel about a different topic, though. Language loss. Quite a few children who grow up with two or more languages end up preferring one of the two, usually the one that they use at school, or the language that’s most widely spoken in their community. In many cases, they no longer actively use their other language, the heritage language. What happens when these children get older? Do they lose this language altogether? Or is their language just lying dormant somewhere in the depths of their mind? In a previous episode of the podcast, I spoke to a ten year old bilingual girl who told me that this is exactly what happened to her. Naya is growing up in the UK with an English speaking father and a Japanese speaking mother, and she actively uses both languages. She did, however, used to know a third language. You lived in Denmark, didn’t you, when you were younger?

00:03:03 – 00:03:07
Naya: Yeah, I lived there for five years. I was born there.

00:03:07 – 00:03:09
Sharon: And could you speak Danish then?

00:03:09 – 00:03:15
Naya: Yes, I actually all I did was speak Danish, but now it’s drifted away.

00:03:16 – 00:03:18
Sharon: So can you remember anything in Danish or not?

00:03:18 – 00:03:21
Naya: I can only say hi. My name is Nya.

00:03:22 – 00:03:23
Sharon: Oh, Do you want to say that for me?

00:03:24 – 00:03:28
Naya: Hi. Mit navn er Naya. That’s all.

00:03:28 – 00:03:30
Sharon: Really? Isn’t that funny how that happened?

00:03:30 – 00:03:33
Naya: Yeah, but like I can say, my favorite bread.

00:03:33 – 00:03:34
Sharon: Oh, what’s that then?

00:03:34 – 00:03:35
Naya: Hopvel.

00:03:35 – 00:03:37
Sharon: What kind of bread is that?

00:03:37 – 00:03:49
Naya: It’s kind of seeds inside. And it’s not like a normal bread that you would eat here. It’s kind of lots of seed clumped together. But then that’s the bread part and it’s. Yeah, I love it. Mhm.

00:03:49 – 00:04:06
Sharon: Sounds delicious. So we just heard from Naya and it was a really interesting conversation. Remember when we had, it was kind of flabbergasted when she told me no, I really don’t know any more Danish. And what happens in cases like that if children stop using a language actively, do they really lose it altogether?

00:04:06 – 00:05:04
Merel: Yeah, Losing, lose, losing a language is interesting. Is it really loss or is it temporarily inaccessibility? Can you not really get to it? So easily? And I think we have a difference between language loss and language attrition. So sort of in that word, attrition is already it’s already in there that it’s not completely lost. And there is such a thing called the savings account or the savings effect, it’s sometimes called that if children have used and in this case, she she went to school, right, in Denmark. Yeah. Or preschool or. So she, she will have used Danish quite a bit before she stopped using it altogether. So when she started if or not so much when, but if at one point in her life she starts speaking Danish up again, it will be easier to relearn. So it’s still there. Somewhere hidden. You can say hidden language rather than completely lost. But five years old is quite young, though to to really stop using a language altogether.

00:05:04 – 00:05:06
Sharon: So young. In what way?

00:05:07 – 00:05:38
Merel: Well young if you if you’re she will not have been able to read yet in Danish. And if you’re if she’d been, let’s say I don’t know nine she will have been literate in Danish and there’s it’s easier to maintain. You’re also so your your your foundation is a lot more solid compared to if you if you don’t have that in place and it’s also easier to maintain. So if you want to to read something or to read a book in Danish or look at some Internet pages, for instance, it’s easier to to keep it up than if you don’t have that.

00:05:38 – 00:05:45
Sharon: Yeah, Yeah. So I suppose we can can we think of it as though, like, the language has gone to sleep? Like it’s gone. Gone in hibernation?

00:05:45 – 00:06:06
Merel: Yeah. Like dormant almost. Right. Yeah. No. Yeah. And it’s. And it can be reactivated again. If she were put in a situation where she was re-immersed or put back in a situation where she, where she hears Danish and can pick it up again. So that becomes easier to do compared to someone who’s never learned Danish in their lives. That’s a different story. Yeah.

00:06:06 – 00:06:24
Sharon: Yeah. Okay. So you mentioned then, you know, actively using the language matters, but also the age at which you may be stop using the language. Whether you can read in that language, Are there other factors that determine the extent to which your language goes into its hibernation?

00:06:24 – 00:08:35
Merel: Hibernation state Yeah. Yeah. I think there’s also some things that are very intricate. And for instance, there is a study we just talked about age and how if children are older, then they will have had a bigger, a better chance of maintaining the language. One of the things that we do know, there is a study that generated quite a bit of interest when it first came out like early 2000s. And this has it’s an international adoptees story. So these were Korean children who were adopted into francophone families between the ages of 4 to 9. So that’s quite a big age range, obviously. But nine years old, I mean, we just talked about if she had been nine, it may have been a different story. But these some of these children were nine years old and when they were adopted into their new families. So they made a switch to French and they were retest or they were tested again when they were in their 20s. And compared to a group of French children, youngsters, young people who’d never really had that Korean experience or exposed to Korean in any way, and they were looked in terms of behavior. So do they really recognize still certain sound differences that are Korean versus other languages? But also they looked at their brain activity and in this case, there was nothing there, seemingly so there was no trace, no remnant. And we just talked about savings, but this would be a counter example of that. So there didn’t seem to be anything that was saved. So they looked similar to the French controls we call that controls. So the the other participants who didn’t have that Korean background and in that case, this is very, very extreme and trauma will have come into that, too. So if our brain copes with trauma in a certain way, if there are memories that are really have negative associations and language is a memory is a type of memory too, then it will be harder to like suppress. It’s a kind of survival mechanism so that that also goes into it. So attitudes in general, socio affective variables that can also determine to what extent someone will remember or will maintain a language.

00:08:35 – 00:08:38
Sharon: Right, right. So social effects are variables. We mean like how people feel.

00:08:39 – 00:08:57
Merel: How they feel. Yeah. How they how what their attitudes do. They think it’s important to, to maintain a language. And in the case of children, what what would the attitude be if their parents so do they try to actively encourage their children to still use a language or or do they not care so much?

00:08:57 – 00:09:04
Sharon: Yeah. Yeah. So there’s a whole bunch of factors, like as is often the case when we’re talking about anything to do with bilingualism.

00:09:04 – 00:09:37
Merel: Exactly. Yeah. It’s hard to really point to. There’s one factor. This is the decisive or this is the most important thing. I think it’s a combination of different factors and there’s individual differences too. So if the same maybe if a brother and sister, if they’re put in the same situation, then one might respond very differently. Although the input’s the same, the situation is very similar, but each person just still comes with their own toolkit almost and their own. So it’s hard to predict outcomes of a language loss kind of situation where people stop actively using a language.

00:09:37 – 00:10:21
Sharon: Yeah. And in fact, in an earlier episode of the podcast, we spoke with Johanna Paradis about the all these different factors that can impact not losing a language necessarily, but learning a language as a child or learning more than one language. And so if anybody’s interested in that, they can go back and listen to that. That’s the first episode of this this season. So summing up then, this idea of of losing languages or not as a child. So the example of Naya. So. We see there are some cases, extreme cases, you’d say, like the Korean example that you just gave, where they really seemed to be. No traces of that language. But there are also cases where it is more it’s gone into hibernation. And if you wake it up, it will wake up again.

00:10:21 – 00:10:25
Merel: Yeah, that’s a nice way of putting it. Yeah. If you wake it up again.

00:10:25 – 00:10:37
Sharon: And do we know because I know there have been studies looking at, you know, relearning a language that children have learned early on in childhood. So is it really the case that if you did that, you will be better at learning it later on?

00:10:37 – 00:11:41
Merel: Yeah, you will be. Yeah, exactly. You will be better at it. You will be pick it up faster compared to someone who didn’t have that experience growing up. And if there is no other factor, such as the traumatic experiences that we talked about earlier on, and there are also I mean, we talked about international adoptees and that’s quite an extreme case. But there are also studies done by your colleagues in Nijmegen, right, who looked at also international adoptees, but who may not have had that traumatic experience and relearning their language that they once heard Chinese in this case and that they picked it up faster compared to children who didn’t have that experience. So there are definitely studies looking into that. Also of of people who live in communities such as in the US, where there’s where they have a heritage language background such as Spanish. And when they moved to, for instance, college classes that they seem to be picking it up faster compared to peers who don’t come from that background. So yes, there are studies looking into that. Yeah.

00:11:41 – 00:11:50
Sharon: Okay. So for parents, if children maybe stop using a language, then there is some hope that it might be there. Yeah, it might be there somewhere.

00:11:50 – 00:12:07
Merel: It’s never I mean, it’s always an enrichment, I would say. And even if at that stage in life they don’t do anything with it, if at one point it may come back and they’ll be put in a situation where it’ll be useful to relearn, and then they have that to fall back on to, to build on.

00:12:08 – 00:13:14
Sharon: Yeah, this actually makes me think of my cousin. So my middle cousin who grew up Dutch, English, bilingual, um, and she was like, I don’t know, 8 or 9 or so when I arrived in the Netherlands and I spoke English to her, but she really only wanted to speak Dutch and actually even switched to speaking Dutch with her because I thought, I really want a relationship with this kid. And it’s really funny because when she was little, she only spoke English and then she went and slept at a friend’s house and decided she only wanted to speak Dutch like them. Um, and then. And then when? And then was would really speak Dutch. I mean, she obviously had some English input. Still. It wasn’t that there was none. None there at all. Um, but, but now you know, she works in, she works in Paris, she speaks English at work and French, I assume she has to. But now we only speak English to each other, like ever. We never speak Dutch to each other. And it’s really funny. I think that’s just a really hopeful story when you think, Oh, you know. You know, that’s it. It’s gone. They’re not speaking that language to me anymore. That actually, you know, is there an English is just like, you know.

00:13:14 – 00:13:59
Merel: Yeah, no, exactly. And it’s a hopeful it’s nice to say. And I can also definitely relate. I mean, I have twin boys who are now 13 and they lived in the US for a year, spoke only English also to each other. So their entire interaction was in English. And then they decided when they started school in the Netherlands again, that that was not something that they wanted to continue. But now they’re picking it up again in secondary school very fast, going through it and sounding very. Well, one of them at least native like. So it’s. I agree. Yeah. You see that happening. And normally all theories that we know about in terms of second language acquisition and and multilingualism, they break down in your own children. But in this case, it works, right? It does seem to to work that way.

00:13:59 – 00:14:11
Sharon: Yeah, it’s very, uh, it’s it can be both dangerous and informative. Applying the theories that you learn as a researcher to your own children. Yeah.

00:14:11 – 00:14:23
Sharon: We’re going to leave our conversation with Merel now to hear from our Kletshead of the week. Avid reader Yuijin tells us how he would feel if he were to lose two of his three languages.

00:14:30 – 00:14:37
Yuijin: My name is Yuijin and I’m nine years old and I speak. French, English and Korean.

00:14:37 – 00:14:38
Sharon: Okey doke. Where do you live, Yuijin?

00:14:39 – 00:14:41
Yuijin: I live in Barking and Dagenham.

00:14:42 – 00:14:43
Sharon: And that’s in the UK. Right?

00:14:43 – 00:14:44
Yuijin: Yes, in.

00:14:44 – 00:14:47
Sharon: England. Yeah. And who do you speak English with?

00:14:47 – 00:14:51
Yuijin: My friends and my teachers. And everyone outside of my house.

00:14:51 – 00:14:51
Sharon: Uh huh.

00:14:51 – 00:14:55
Sharon: And what about your other languages? Who do you speak French and Korean with?

00:14:56 – 00:15:00
Yuijin: French. With my dad and Korean. With my mom. I speak English with my brother too.

00:15:00 – 00:15:02
Sharon: Oh, okay.

00:15:02 – 00:15:03
Sharon: Have you got one, brother?

00:15:03 – 00:15:04
Yuijin: Yes.

00:15:04 – 00:15:06
Sharon: The older. A big brother or a little brother?

00:15:06 – 00:15:07
Yuijin: Big.

00:15:07 – 00:15:10
Sharon: Big. Uh huh. And so do you only speak English to your brother?

00:15:10 – 00:15:12
Yuijin: Sometimes French, sometimes Korean.

00:15:13 – 00:15:20
Sharon: Ah, so you sometimes change. That’s interesting. So why do you change Sometimes. Which language you speak?

00:15:21 – 00:15:35
Yuijin: Don’t know why I changed, but sometimes when I change my voice, my brother thinks that I’m somebody else. Like, sometimes when I speak Korean, he thinks that it’s our mom. And when. When I speak French, he thinks that it’s our dad sometimes.

00:15:35 – 00:15:36
Sharon: Uh huh.

00:15:36 – 00:15:42
Sharon: So are you trying to. Are you trying to trick him? So what’s the best thing about speaking French and Korean?

00:15:42 – 00:15:48
Yuijin: That we can travel around the world and make new friends and talk with our family?

00:15:48 – 00:15:52
Sharon: And do you do you get to go to France or Korea much?

00:15:52 – 00:16:00
Yuijin: I go to Korea a lot. And France last year for skiing. I don’t go to France that much.

00:16:01 – 00:16:06
Sharon: Mhm. Yeah. And, um. Do you like going to, uh, to France and Korea?

00:16:06 – 00:16:06
Yuijin: Yeah.

00:16:06 – 00:16:13
Sharon: So imagine if you suddenly forgot how to speak French and Korean and you could only speak English. How would you feel?

00:16:13 – 00:16:18
Yuijin: Oh, I’d feel lost for words if I went to a Korean and France.

00:16:19 – 00:16:23
Sharon: Uh huh. Yeah, I think that’s a good way of putting it, isn’t it? Because you wouldn’t know what to say, you mean?

00:16:23 – 00:16:25
Yuijin: Yeah. Yes.

00:16:26 – 00:16:30
Sharon: And tell me, is there a language that you find easier to speak in?

00:16:30 – 00:16:36
Yuijin: I think it’s English because I normally speak English.

00:16:37 – 00:17:07
Sharon: And do you have any words that you say? Almost always in Korean or almost always in French, even when you speak in English? So in our house. So I live in I didn’t say, did I live in the Netherlands? So in Holland. And we all speak English at home, but we have some words that we always say in Dutch, like, for example knuffeltje. Knuffeltje means soft toy, like a cuddly toy. And we always say that in Dutch, even when we’re speaking, even when we’re speaking English. Do you have any words like that in Korean or French?

00:17:08 – 00:17:23
Yuijin: I used to say ible, which means blanket in Korean because I forgot what how it said in English. And then one day I suddenly realized what it said.

00:17:24 – 00:17:24
Merel: Uh huh.

00:17:24 – 00:17:26
Sharon: And what was it again in Korean idol?

00:17:26 – 00:17:27
Merel: Ible.

00:17:28 – 00:17:38
Sharon: Aha. Good. I’ve learned a Korean word. Then. That’s good. Tell me about your. So your mom and your dad. Do you sometimes get angry at your mom and dad? Do they sometimes do things that get you annoyed?

00:17:38 – 00:17:38
Yuijin: Yeah.

00:17:38 – 00:17:43
Sharon: Yeah. Uh huh. And when you do that, do you speak to them? Which language do you speak to them in?

00:17:43 – 00:17:46
Yuijin: It depends on if it’s my mom or dad.

00:17:46 – 00:18:02
Sharon: Uh, okay. So you don’t switch languages when you get annoyed. If I get if I get annoyed sometimes, if I get annoyed with my children, then sometimes I decide to speak Dutch instead of English. Which is a bit strange, really.

00:18:02 – 00:18:06
Yuijin: Yeah. That’s what my mum and dad does. Yeah.

00:18:06 – 00:18:08
Sharon: Is that what your mum and dad do?

00:18:08 – 00:18:08
Yuijin: Yeah.

00:18:08 – 00:18:10
Sharon: So they switch to English, then?

00:18:10 – 00:18:18
Yuijin: They switch to French and Korean. They’re angry, but they mostly speak French and Korean, so I don’t know if they’re angry or not.

00:18:19 – 00:18:24
Sharon: And let’s talk about school. So school is all in English, right? Is that right?

00:18:24 – 00:18:25
Yuijin: Yes.

00:18:25 – 00:18:30
Sharon: Yeah. And you do you sometimes speak French at school because you said you get French at school.

00:18:30 – 00:18:33
Yuijin: We just learn how to speak French.

00:18:34 – 00:18:35
Sharon: So you’re at primary school, right?

00:18:35 – 00:18:36
Yuijin: Yes.

00:18:36 – 00:18:40
Sharon: Yeah. So do you actually have French lessons yet or not?

00:18:40 – 00:18:41
Yuijin: We do.

00:18:41 – 00:18:42
Sharon: Oh, you do? Uh huh.

00:18:42 – 00:18:44
Yuijin: Okay. Like the French basics.

00:18:45 – 00:18:52
Sharon: Are okay, like bonjour savoir. Yeah. And what about, what about Korean? Do you sometimes get the chance to speak Korean at school?

00:18:53 – 00:18:54
Yuijin: When my friends ask.

00:18:55 – 00:18:58
Sharon: Uh, when your friends ask. Uh huh. What do they ask you?

00:18:58 – 00:19:02
Yuijin: Then they’re like, How do you say this? How do you say that?

00:19:02 – 00:19:05
Sharon: What about when you’re asleep and you’re dreaming? Do you dream at night?

00:19:05 – 00:19:06
Yuijin: Not really.

00:19:06 – 00:19:06
Merel: Not really.

00:19:06 – 00:19:07
Sharon: How do you know?

00:19:07 – 00:19:12
Yuijin: It’s normally just black for me, and I just get these weird patterns.

00:19:14 – 00:19:15
Sharon: And do you like reading?

00:19:15 – 00:19:16
Yuijin: Yes.

00:19:17 – 00:19:20
Sharon: What’s your, what are you reading at the moment? Are you reading a book at the moment?

00:19:20 – 00:19:23
Yuijin: At school we’re reading the book called Holes.

00:19:24 – 00:19:32
Sharon: So that’s that’s what you’re reading at school and in English. And what are you are you reading? Do you read at home before? Do you read at night before you go to bed? Or do you just read you in the day?

00:19:33 – 00:19:36
Yuijin: Yeah, I read a lot of books during the day.

00:19:36 – 00:19:38
Sharon: Oh dear. Tell me about them then.

00:19:38 – 00:19:57
Yuijin: I’ll have a whole collection. Not sure about Hunan. Um, they’ve even have their own. Have their episodes on TV too. And Poleni, a mad scientist which is a girl and always saves the day.

00:19:58 – 00:20:01
Sharon: She sounds cool. Are some in Korean and some in French?

00:20:02 – 00:20:08
Yuijin: Uh, Hunan named Doraemon. And uh, I forgot the third one.

00:20:08 – 00:20:09
Sharon: But that’s in Korean.

00:20:09 – 00:20:16
Yuijin: Yeah. And Lyttelton and Lyttelton. And the other book is in French.

00:20:17 – 00:20:19
Sharon: So you can read in all three languages?

00:20:19 – 00:20:20
Yuijin: Yes.

00:20:20 – 00:20:30
Sharon: Oh, that’s cool. Can I ask you about Korean? Because when I see Korean, I just see lots of little circles and lines. How was it for you to learn how to read in Korean?

00:20:30 – 00:20:42
Yuijin: Uh, the way I learned it is when I saw my mum read and I took a few lessons with her, and I started off with Korean because I was born in Korea.

00:20:43 – 00:20:49
Sharon: How is it to read it? Do you find it easy or do you find it difficult or is it actually just normal?

00:20:49 – 00:21:08
Yuijin: I find it easy now, since once a year I spend one month in Korea and it’s easier for me now. Since last year I read a lot of books and learnt a lot from my mum’s older sisters.

00:21:09 – 00:21:10
Sharon: And can you write in Korea?

00:21:10 – 00:21:13
Yuijin: Yeah, but I make lots of mistakes.

00:21:13 – 00:21:15
Sharon: But that’s normal, right? When you’re learning something or not.

00:21:15 – 00:21:23
Yuijin: It’s easy for me to read, but it’s hard for me to write because I know the basic like annyong haseyo, hello.

00:21:24 – 00:21:27
Sharon: Yeah, well, it is easier to read than it is to write, right?

00:21:27 – 00:21:37
Yuijin: Yeah. I think I learnt how to read French first or and read English first before I started writing.

00:21:38 – 00:21:39
Sharon: Can you write in French as well?

00:21:40 – 00:21:42
Yuijin: Yeah, a bit more easier.

00:21:43 – 00:21:47
Sharon: It’s the same alphabet isn’t it, as English. So that probably helps.

00:21:47 – 00:21:55
Yuijin: You write it like in English, but you have to add a few slashes and lines.

00:21:56 – 00:22:01
Sharon: Like the accents above the letters. So let’s talk about animals. Do you like animals?

00:22:01 – 00:22:02
Yuijin: Yes.

00:22:02 – 00:22:11
Sharon: Oh, okay. So I’m always interested in the languages that animals speak, right? So. And the sounds. They’re making different languages. So what does a cow say in English?

00:22:11 – 00:22:12
Yuijin: A moo.

00:22:12 – 00:22:18
Sharon: Yeah. Moo. Right. In Dutch, a cow says boo. What about in, do you know what a cow says in French or Korean?

00:22:19 – 00:22:46
Yuijin: In Korean. It’s a ma. And in French is like meuh. Like in French is meuh and in Korean it’s zero a line which has a six sticking out of it. And the Q and another key with the line with a lines and another line sticking out of it.

00:22:47 – 00:23:00
Sharon: Let’s see. We’re going to, we’re going to finish up now so I can speak French, but I can’t speak Korean, so maybe is there, can you think of a word that you think would be quite difficult for me to say? What word could you teach me in Korean?

00:23:01 – 00:23:02
Yuijin: Nasionaligam.

00:23:03 – 00:23:04
Sharon: Okay. Say it again.

00:23:04 – 00:23:09
Yuijin: Nasionaligam. I don’t know what it means, but I just found it in a book.

00:23:11 – 00:23:15
Sharon: Oh, let’s hope it doesn’t mean something naughty. Nasionaligam.

00:23:15 – 00:23:23
Yuijin: I think it’s like. I think it’s like not something national. National news or something.

00:23:24 – 00:23:30
Sharon: Okay. What about a word that you, a word that you liked or something yummy?

00:23:30 – 00:23:31
Yuijin: Ddukbokgi.

00:23:31 – 00:23:33
Sharon: Ddukbokgi. Did I say that right?

00:23:33 – 00:23:34
Yuijin: Yes.

00:23:34 – 00:23:35
Sharon: What does it mean?

00:23:36 – 00:23:56
Yuijin: Uh, it’s a type of food in Korea where it’s dipped in spicy sauce, and you. And it’s with. I’m not sure, but like, dumplings. And then you dip it in spicy sauce, and then that’s what people in Korea like to eat, which is spicy.

00:23:57 – 00:23:59
Sharon: Mm. That sounds yummy. Do you like that?

00:23:59 – 00:24:00
Yuijin: Yeah.

00:24:01 – 00:24:14
Sharon: Okay, we’re going to finish now. So I always finish by asking the person I’m talking to to say, uh, teach me thank you and goodbye. In one of their languages. So maybe you can teach me that in Korean. So how do you say thank you in Korean?

00:24:14 – 00:24:33
Yuijin: Uh, come up some to an adult and go gomawo to a friend, and goodbye is anyong to a friend. Or if you’re staying at her house, the guest would say, you could say Annyeonghaseyo. And if they’re going, say, Annyeonghaseyo.

00:24:33 – 00:24:35
Sharon: Annyeonghaseyo.

00:24:35 – 00:24:36
Yuijin: Yes, that.

00:24:36 – 00:24:41
Sharon: Well, should we say that? That’s goodbye, Annyeonghaseyo. And what was thank you?

00:24:41 – 00:24:43
Yuijin: Gum up ni de to an adult.

00:24:43 – 00:24:46
Sharon: Okay, let’s. Let’s do that. Gum up ni de.

00:24:46 – 00:24:47
Yuijin: Gum up ni de.

00:24:48 – 00:24:49
Sharon: Is that good?

00:24:49 – 00:24:50
Yuijin: Yes. Close.

00:24:50 – 00:24:55
Sharon: Gum up ni de. And, what was goodbye?

00:24:56 – 00:24:59
Yuijin: If you’re staying at a house Annyeonghaseyo.

00:24:59 – 00:25:01
Sharon: Annyeonghaseyo.

00:25:01 – 00:25:01
Yuijin: Annyeonghaseyo.

00:25:03 – 00:25:06
Sharon: Thank you. It’s been lovely talking to you. Thank you.

00:25:06 – 00:25:08
Yuijin: You’re welcome. Bye.

00:25:10 – 00:25:11
Yuijin: Kletshead of the week.

00:25:15 – 00:26:19
Sharon: Often parents of bilingual children live in a in a different place from where they grew up and use a second or even a third language in their daily lives, sometimes as much as sometimes even more than the the language that they grew up with. And, you know, and I notice thinking about myself, I’ve lived like over 20 years in the Netherlands, and I definitely speak English in a different way than I did when I arrived. Right. I don’t sound half as northern as I used to, unfortunately. And and there are definitely Dutchisms in in what I what I say. Maybe some of the listeners can even pick up on those. Um, and, and that’s even though I use English daily right in both at home and at work. And of course that’s part and parcel of being bilingual that, you know, one language influences the other. Um, but thinking about, you know, this idea of what happens when you get, as you get older, like we spoke about with the, with Naya. Um, you know, now I’m young and fit.

00:26:19 – 00:26:21
Merel: Absolutely. Yeah, more or less.

00:26:21 – 00:26:44
Sharon: Uh, what’s going to happen then to me and my English when I get older, right? So I’m going to carry on living here. Guess. Does it matter, for example, that I only started learning Dutch when I was 26? Yeah, right. So maybe my English is going to be okay. I know you’ve done a lot of research about what happens when you move somewhere else and what happens to your mother tongue. Maybe you can tell us a bit about that.

00:26:44 – 00:29:41
Merel: Yeah, exactly. And I mean, it’s in a way it would be nice, right, to be able to predict. So to safeguard or to have some sort of guarantee in place that you’ll be fine when you when you’re 60 or 65 or a little bit older. And I think in general, you are, it’s just very hard to predict what’s going to happen per person because there are all these individual differences. And you’re right, we looked quite a lot at people who move from their first language environment to another language setting situation. And there’s huge there’s people who’ve been away for 40, 50 years and really still sound very native-like. So there’s almost nothing in their speech, not in terms of word choice, grammatical structures, nothing that would suggest that they’ve been away from such a long time, maybe apart from the fact they sound a little bit old fashioned, sometimes archaic. Right? Almost like time stood still for them. It’s like this snapshot of what their first language used to sound like so many years ago. And there’s others who. Who? Yeah. Who more quickly show the effects of having another language. It’s also there’s a small studies, really small studies, maybe a little bit artificial if you talk about daily life. But if you’re able or if you’re asked to name an item so you see a picture, for instance, this is done in a lab kind of setting, right? So it’s not so much on the street, but if people come in for more of an experimental session and you have to name a picture in your in another language ten times, then it’s harder to do that in your mother tongue, although you don’t even speak that language so well. And it’s a very different situation for you and for a lot of other parents who do speak the language of the new environment to a really high level. And then the question is what to what extent does that influence And you’re right, I mean, they always influence each other, right? There’s always one language that impacts on the other. Interesting thing is, though, that if people get older, what we did often notice is that they started becoming stronger, if anything. Right. Becoming stronger again in their first language. And that can sometimes have to do with like a preoccupation of the the past, like nostalgia. I don’t know how you want to call that, but also that involves the language of older or past days. And that would be something that we did see. In general, what happens when we get older is that our brain changes. As much as we hate it, it does happen also means that certain functions of our brain, like inhibition, they tend to decline. This is not felt as strong for everyone, but overall that’s true. So it becomes harder to separate languages because of that as well. So there might be more influences either way so that there is more English in your Dutch or more Dutch in your English. And what you then often do see is that the language that has always been dominant and that can really change mean patterns, language, dominance patterns change throughout the lifetime. That becomes more more strong at that point in time. Stronger.

00:29:41 – 00:30:19
Sharon: Yeah. And I think it’s good to say as well that we by no means mean there’s no kind of negative evaluation of one language influence and the other. Right? That’s just part and parcel of being bilingual. We’ve discussed that quite a bit on the on the podcast and by saying people who, you know, I don’t sound like a it’s not that I don’t sound native-like whatever that is, because that’s a whole other discussion that researchers have as well. It’s just I don’t sound like what I would have sounded like if I’d have stayed living in England or I don’t sound like I don’t sound. What my sister sounds like, who grew up in the same place but now still lives in England, right?

00:30:19 – 00:30:50
Merel: Yeah, absolutely. It’s a it’s a factual, it’s an observation. Right. It’s not so much that you that there’s some sort of value judgment attached to it. I think it’s if anything, you have more languages to tap, to tap into as a resource and that. Sure I mean of course that that shows that has leaves its mark but there’s all the richness associated with that from being able to talk or to converse and to. Yeah. To, to talk to different networks because that’s another thing, right? You have a larger network typically. Yeah.

00:30:50 – 00:31:16
Sharon: Yeah. And so thinking about what happens to your, uh, to your, the first language that you knew as you get older in an environment where you speak and use another language, um, are there certain aspects of language? You know, I’m thinking of vocabulary or grammar or, you know, phonology, your accent, uh, are the more certain aspects more prone to being forgotten?

00:31:16 – 00:33:13
Merel: Yes, definitely. Yeah. So there are certain domains of language that are just much more susceptible to to loss or to be forgotten. And one of the things is words. And and this is something that I think a lot of people can relate to, even if you don’t really right, If you don’t speak another language, sometimes it’s hard. You can’t find a certain word. So you find it hard. If you’re if you know that you’re searching for a certain word, but you can’t find it or not in not in a quick enough way anyways. And I think if people who are multilingual tend to have that quite a bit. So they’ll find a word in one language, although they’re looking for the word in the other language. So yeah, the lexicon, as we call it. So words is something that’s affected quite early on. There’s other domains that are more robust to changes in the grammar. The grammatical structures in general is a is one such domain, and that tends to be, because you’ve there’s normally a solid foundation, but you have to use it, right? You can you can definitely avoid constructions that you’re a little bit uncertain about that you don’t know or you tend to yeah, be a bit sensitive. You don’t know how a certain structure works. So you can go around that. But in general, you do still have to form some sort of coherent utterance, so you need the grammar to do that. Yeah. And there’s so there are definitely. But within that, within grammar too, there are certain parts of that that might go faster compared to others and that tend to be the, the harder ones to acquire in children too. So for instance, there’s this, this thing called regression or the regression hypothesis. So if things are acquired really late in children and there are some structures like strong verbs, right? That would be an example or the passive passive constructions, those tend to be hard to really master for, for children. And they also tend to be the ones that are easy to go in a language loss, language, attrition situation.

00:33:14 – 00:33:17
Sharon: So strong verbs like bring and brought?

00:33:17 – 00:33:41
Merel: Well exactly. Yeah. And you regularize people will tend to regularize things and it also because it’s less of a burden it’s you just have to write normally you can remember a rule, but then all the exceptions to that rule would have to be stored independently. And if you don’t have to do that, then that’s quite a cognitive load reduction. You can say you don’t need so much brain space if you if you want to call it that way.

00:33:42 – 00:33:54
Sharon: Yeah. Yeah. And I guess, you know, if, if you know, you haven’t used brought for a very long time, it’s harder to, to get it out of your, out of the network to wake it up again.

00:33:55 – 00:34:28
Merel: Absolutely. Yeah. That’s a really good point too. So if there’s there’s everything that’s been used quite recently and that’s used quite frequently too. So frequent words tend not to be a problem, right? But if there’s words that are not used so much, you haven’t used them for a long time, then they tend to be the one that ones that. Yeah, that we talked about hibernation. Right. Those words are definitely hibernating. And you will get to it mostly. Mostly in a moment where you don’t need it, right? Like two hours after the fact or something will pop up. And so that’s the word that I was looking for. But yeah.

00:34:29 – 00:34:36
Sharon: Yeah, no, I completely recognize this situation. I’m sure many of our listeners do too.

00:34:36 – 00:34:56
Sharon: Before Merel tells us about some of the benefits bilingualism might have as you get older, it’s time for another Kletsheads quick and easy. A concrete tip you can put into practice straight away to make the most out of the bilingualism in your family, class or clinic.

00:34:57 – 00:34:59
Sharon: Kletsheads Quick and easy.

00:35:00 – 00:36:58
Sharon: As parents of bilingual children, we often think about what we’re going to do and how we’re going to approach raising a bilingual child. When the kids are young. But after that, we often just carry on merrily without thinking too much about what we’re doing, whether our approach is on the right track. An important part of bilingual parenting is to occasionally stop, think and evaluate what you’re doing, whether, for example, your family language policy is still right for you and your children. If you take some time to do this, you can make any necessary adjustments before it’s too late. Questions you might want to ask yourself are is everyone happy? Are things going well? Are we achieving our goals by doing it this way? It’s important not to be afraid to change things, to choose a different route if needs be. And if things are going well, take a moment to think about why this is and how can you make sure that this success will continue in the future. If you’re looking for help or inspiration, check out Edwin Crisfield’s book, Bilingual Families A Practical Language Planning Guide, or Adam Beck’s latest book, Bilingual Success Stories Around the World. We will, by the way, be discussing both of those books in detail in a future episode of the podcast. As a teacher of bilingual children, you can also stop, think and evaluate. Ask yourself, with or without colleagues, how the bilingual children in your class or at your school are getting on. Are there things that could be improved or changed to help you do this? Use the materials developed by the language Friendly School and the Peach Project. They have a whole guide for educators. The links to both are in the show notes. So the Kletsheads quick and easy for today, is to stop, think and evaluate.

00:37:00 – 00:37:02
Sharon: Kletsheads quick and easy.

00:37:04 – 00:38:00
Sharon: So we’ve spoken then about things that. Well, go wrong. I mean, you can’t see. I’m kind of like, you know, between quotation marks I go wrong. It’s not really go wrong, but things that change maybe in a less than positive way as you as you age as a bilingual person. There’s of course, research that shows that being bilingual can actually have all sorts of benefits when you get older. So maybe we can talk about that now. I mean, it’s even claimed and this is a nice result from research that is very popular in the media. It makes a good headline, right, that bilingual people. Bilinguals will get dementia 4 or 5 years later than people who’ve lived largely monolingual lives. That, of course, seems yeah, it seems like a nice prospect as as a bilingual. But, um. Is it true? What’s your reading of the research that we have so far?

00:38:00 – 00:39:32
Merel: Well, yeah, with, with headlines, it’s always the case that there is a truth in it, right? But it’s much more nuanced normally. So. Yeah, it is indeed true. So people who and this is a quite a robust finding. So it’s been found in different settings, different contexts involving different languages, people who are multilingual and really also still actively using multiple languages. I think that’s important to to add have been found to go to a doctor at a later age. So it’s not and this is important to underscore. So it’s not that they get dementia later, but they present with the first symptoms at a later stage. And it seems to be across all of those different contexts. It does seem to be this four, four and a half year mark that they seem to be. So there’s a delay in terms of when the the symptoms first manifest themselves. So yeah, there is definitely that that aspect to it. And it’s what you what you then often see is that if you look at inside the brain, if you do brain scans, MRIs, still scans or pictures of the brain, there are brain show the same amount of of atrophy. So it’s not the case that they show less damage somehow and in some cases even there’s more damage, but they still continue to function at the same kind of level in their daily lives and a cognitive level. So so that is I think is very revealing because it shows that the brain is somehow found a way to cope with that. You can deal with that kind of damage better compared to someone who doesn’t speak several languages.

00:39:32 – 00:39:36
Sharon: And then the of course, the question is how come? Why?

00:39:37 – 00:41:07
Merel: Yeah, exactly. You felt it coming, right? That’s the what’s the mechanism underlying it? Well, it’s the kind of thing if you’re there’s several answers to that question. I think overall, the types of brain structures that we see are activated when people speak multiple languages and actively have to switch between them, they also tend to be the structures that decline when we get older. So there’s this brain training. I suppose you’ve strengthened the connections between different parts of your brain as you you juggle multiple languages throughout your lifetime. So that’s one part of the story. It’s also true that if you switch, if you regularly switch between languages, you train a part of your brain as well, the prefrontal cortex, and there’s other cognitive functions, other things that you do that that also are governed in that particular area. So focusing on something, switching the ignoring your apps thing that we just talked about, right? So what you’re going to focus on and what you’re going to ignore. So almost as a byproduct of being or juggling several languages, you’re also train that part of the brain that including things that have nothing to do with language. So you you show an effect. So you build up especially for older adults and you build up this this cognitive reserve, you can say, right, you have this reserve in place that people who speak one language don’t necessarily have. It’s not just language. Right? I think that’s that’s important to state. There’s all sorts of life experiences that can do that. So it’s it’s not just using several languages.

00:41:08 – 00:41:09
Sharon: So like what then?

00:41:09 – 00:41:51
Merel: Well, musical instrument of people or if they do right, if they play a musical instrument. Some things that we have no say over, by the way. So things like that are genetically determined for us that we have no control over. But there’s other things that we do, things like diet, whether we regularly exercise, even personality traits of buildings. If you’re outgoing, if you’re quite open to new experiences. All of these things have been linked to building up cognitive reserve, to building up this this kind of extra, more healthy years that would that could buy you and the more combined so if they’re combined these experiences seems to be seems to be better compared to just one of those experiences.

00:41:51 – 00:41:58
Sharon: So if you’re an outgoing bilingual musician, fantastic. You’ve got a you’ve got a good life ahead of you.

00:41:58 – 00:42:02
Merel: That’s a healthy life ahead of you. Exactly. Yeah. No, absolutely.

00:42:03 – 00:42:21
Sharon: To the extent that these benefits exist, then do they? Do we see them for all bilinguals? So regardless of the circumstances in which they grow up in. You know, whether they started learning or using two languages early on or not, or depending on which languages it is or how many there are. If you have 3 or 4?

00:42:22 – 00:44:21
Merel: All really good questions. Yeah, I think so. One of the earliest studies that were looking into this effect, they found that for, for early bilinguals generally. So people who started learning a new language early on in life. But since then there have been so many other studies that have also looked at different types of bilinguals and individual differences. So who will and who will not show this effect? And what they’ve come down to. So most of them seem to be in agreement that there’s three different types. Very roughly speaking, it’s very hard to put people in boxes or categorize them. But in general, there’s three different types of people who speak multiple languages. There’s the type who’ve learned different languages in their lives. At one point, but they really don’t use them. So they really only use one language these days in their daily lives. There’s the type of person that really learned them but still continues to use them, and they can still also have been older when they started acquiring a language, but they’re now at a live stage where they still use different languages and and often in different domains too. So, for instance, one language at home and one language outside the home, at work or at school. And then thirdly, there’s the, the the type of multilingual that lives in an environment where there’s lots and lots of multilinguals around who so they can code switch what we call code switching so they can switch between languages quite freely because they know that the people that they will be talking to can also do that so they can understand different languages. And you often see even languages being switched within a sentence. So they’ll go from one language to the next. And the greatest effect, what we see so far. So the people who show this kind of reserve effect when they get older, they tend to fall in the second category. So those people who continue to use different languages, but they use them in different domains because then the burden, let’s say, on your your system, on your brain is the greatest, because you really have to carefully separate your languages because you don’t want to speak the wrong language to the wrong person who will not understand what you’re saying.

00:44:22 – 00:44:56
Sharon: Right. So, you know, often people think if you’ve got English as your home language and you growing up in the Netherlands, I’m thinking, you know, for example, in our family, oh, that’s a great advantage. And it is in very many ways, don’t get me wrong. But in this circumstance, that’s maybe English is not a good language. You can better have a language that you can’t speak outside the home. Yeah, because not very many people speak it because that’s going to help you separate the two languages in terms of where you speak them. And that means that you have to, you know, suppress, ignore the other one. Yeah. More.

00:44:56 – 00:45:42
Merel: Yeah, absolutely. It’s yeah, it’s very much environmentally determined. Right. So in what kind of setting do you find yourself and. Yeah, so that’s, that’s, that’s the thing. And in general, so you also asked earlier, I think that’s a really interesting question too. So does it matter which languages? Does it matter if languages are closely related, belong to the same language family versus they’re completely different and they cannot even be compared and there’s still no consensus. So there’s studies that have found that if the languages are more closely related, if they look more alike, it’s harder to separate them. It’s more of a burden to separate them. It’s harder to do. And because of that, there’s a greater effect. But that’s on the other side. There are studies that show the exact opposite. So it’s that’s a hard question to answer.

00:45:42 – 00:45:48
Sharon: The jury’s out on that one. And what about the question, the number of languages that you know, so if you trilingual.

00:45:48 – 00:46:32
Merel: Or multi, polyglot when it comes to so how many languages you speak? Yeah. So there are some studies on that and they don’t seem to find a huge effect or a difference, at least between speaking to versus more than two languages. There are definitely studies of people who look at and that’s generally some sort of elaborate case study. So several of these people who speak really a lot of languages and speak all of them fluently, five up to 14 languages, and they do seem to have different brain structures. But then again, you would expect that, right, compared to people. So they use all of them actively. But overall, it doesn’t seem to matter so much if it’s trilingual or bilingual.

00:46:33 – 00:46:43
Sharon: Okay. Clear. Um, are there any other possible benefits of being bilingual when it comes to growing older?

00:46:43 – 00:48:20
Merel: Yeah. So I think in general, people tend to focus on the cognitive aspect because it’s, I mean, we, I think we’re all in somehow, maybe or some way, maybe afraid that our brain’s going to give out on us. And so I can see the focus. Yeah, right. At one point. Not now. Obviously, we’re the prime of our lives, right? So, yeah, I think so. I can see the focus, but there are definitely other elements as well. And so a sense of if you speak different languages, you tend to speak those different languages with different people. So your social networks may be different, more elaborate. And so those social structures in place, we talked about socio effective earlier on. So really your social life, your attitudes, your your emotions associated with a certain language. And I think that’s also a very important not to be underestimated factor. And I think language can really play an important role in growing old and growing old in a way in which you would still experience a high quality of life. And I think in general, loneliness or perceived loneliness, that’s something that’s quite prevalent for older adults and who are especially those in institutional homes but or institutional care institutions, but also those still what we call community dwelling, right? People who still live in their own environment and in their own house. So yeah, I think that’s a and it has trickle down effects too. So if you if you’re a socio if your quality of life is good, if you experience in general quite a high level of well-being, then that too has effects or repercussions for how you act cognitively. So there is this there’s a two way system there, really.

00:48:22 – 00:49:13
Sharon: Yeah. Okay. So. Well, that’s good to know, right? It’s not only this this cognitive effect, which, you know, is really important. Um, and is definitely something that many people and myself included are slightly scared of. But yeah, the other we shouldn’t forget the other benefits that there are too. I just want to finish by asking you about something else that I know you’ve been looking at, and that’s not really about people who grow up bilingual or you’ve been bilingual for a long time. But the using what we’ve just spoken about as a way of helping people who maybe don’t speak another language, who are monolingual. So bilingualism is a kind of therapy, I think I’ve heard you speak about it as maybe you can tell us a bit about that, because I think even though it’s not really central to what we talk about on the podcast, I’m sure there are many people who would be interested in knowing more about it.

00:49:13 – 00:51:22
Merel: Yeah, no, it’s yeah, gladly. I think in general. So we know about all of these advantages, right? The enrichment we just talked about that quite elaborately of, of having the, the experience speaking multiple languages and everything that comes with that. But not everyone is as lucky as that, right? So there are definitely people who don’t have who are not put in a situation where they grow up with multiple languages from birth or at one point have acquired another language. So we wanted to see is there if they don’t have that and if they are older adults or people we look at as are between 65 and 85 when they come to us and then we teach them a new language for a period of three months. English in this case, although they do speak some English, but at a quite a rudimentary level. So they’re enrolled in an English course and this is done in the Netherlands. But in general, there’s lots of similar studies around the world where older adults learn a new language and to see what kind of benefits are associated with that. So what do they show at the end of those three months cognitively, but also socio effectively so their well-being? Does that improve? Do they report other things in terms of self-fulfillment? If you learn something as complex as a as a new language, that’s quite something to have achieved, right? And in general, I think there’s quite a lot of discourse about the decline and aging and things changing and mostly in a negative way. And I think it’s it also feeds into that. So if people start if they’re able still flexible somehow enough to learn a new language, that’s that’s quite a boost to your confidence. So yeah, we’ve compared learning a new language to to other complex new skill learning such as learning to play the guitar. We just talked about music. There were no people. Maybe we should have done that who learned both English and learning to play the guitar. But maybe that’s over, overtaxing. Yeah, that’s a lot. And then we also had groups that just got together, so they, they, they met every from time to time, but then they didn’t learn anything new. They did like creative workshops. Well, that’s, it’s learning something new, but it’s not something that they had to actively practice each day.

00:51:22 – 00:51:29
Sharon: Yeah. Yeah. And what and what happened then? Was there a difference between the guitar learners and the language learners and the?

00:51:29 – 00:53:10
Merel: So far, no. So but what we do see actually, because we have healthy older adults, we had older adults who already suffered from memory problems and those who had mood problems, so who late-life depression symptoms and for the people with mild cognitive impairment. So those who like a precursor stage to Alzheimer’s, typically that’s what it’s seen as they did improve most compared to in the language condition compared to the music condition. So there seemed to be that. But this is very tentative, right? We’re. In the middle of analyzing the results. But it seems to be if people have to have to have more to learn a great more to improve than language seems to be very beneficial. But one of the things that we did see is that both the guitar group and also the language group, they didn’t deteriorate because three months is a long time, right? If you’re already in a certain age band, then they showed like it maintenance of instead of just further decline. And we did see that in some cases in the group that just got together, they steadily, not hugely, but they steadily performed worse over time. And we didn’t see that in the guitar and in the language group so much and they enjoyed it, right? That’s also mean well-being definitely increased in both cases in and sometimes some cases even more for the language group. So they have something that they like doing and that, you know, and we don’t know. I mean, maybe if we if we meet up with these people again in one year, it would be interesting. It’s not part of the project, but it would be interesting to see what kind of long term effects this would have for them. Yeah.

00:53:10 – 00:53:22
Sharon: Yeah. That’s really interesting, right? That you could use bilingualism or not bilingualism, but learning a second language as a form of therapy. Or one kind of therapy, maybe.

00:53:22 – 00:53:50
Merel: Yeah, exactly. Or preventative treatment somehow, Right. If you start learning a new language now and that’s a project that we’re doing at the moment, if people are carriers of a certain gene that makes them have like a predisposition for to develop Alzheimer’s, if we if they are multilingual now, does that prevent that from actually materializing? Because if you’re a carrier, you don’t have to, of course, get something you don’t have to to get Alzheimer’s. But it’s something that we’re doing at the moment. It’s another project.

00:53:51 – 00:54:05
Sharon: Right. Well, we’ll look forward to hearing the results of that maybe in a in another episode of the podcast. But for now, thanks for sharing all your insights about being bilingual and growing older.

00:54:05 – 00:54:06
Merel: Thank you.

00:54:06 – 00:57:19
Sharon: Second language therapy does seem like a nice prospect. Thanks to Merel for this super interesting chat. We learned that if you grew up bilingually and continued to use your two languages, as you get older, you’re less likely to suffer from dementia. By that we don’t mean that you’re less likely to get it, but if and when you do, you’ll notice the symptoms later. So like playing a musical instrument and exercising a lot, it seems that bilingualism is a way to build up what we call cognitive reserve. And this seems to be especially the case when you use your languages in different contexts. So one language at home and the other at school or work. I hope many listeners will also be reassured to hear that in most cases, bilingual children will not lose their heritage language altogether if they don’t continue to use it as they grow older. In fact, should they want to learn this language again later on, they’ll likely pick it up more quickly than someone who has to start from scratch. So thinking back to Naya at the start of this episode, if she were to follow Danish language classes, chances are she’d do better than someone who has never had any contact with Danish before. And parents who are themselves bilingual are hopefully also reassured when it comes to their own language use. If you don’t use a language very often, it’s perfectly normal to have to search for words. So be kind to yourself if you too cannot always come up with the right word in your native language. We learned that these kinds of problems are less likely to occur when it comes to grammar, but not impossible. Especially the parts of grammar that you learn last as a child will be susceptible to forgetting. Chances are, though, that as soon as you’re back in your home country, your language will also wake up from its hibernation. Because being bilingual is very dynamic. It keeps changing and surprising. It keeps us on our toes. And if you ask me, that’s what makes it all the more interesting. That’s it for this episode. We’ll be back in a month’s time with the book review episode that I mentioned earlier. So we’re going to be reviewing two books about bilingual parenting, Bilingual success stories from Around the World by Adam Beck and Raising Bilingual Families A Practical Language Planning Guide by Awan Crisfield. I also talked to a parent about her experiences writing the family language plan Awan talks about in her book. Until then, if you want to know more about Kletz heads, go to our website at That’s where you’ll also find more information about this episode. If you want to make sure you don’t miss an episode, subscribe to Kletsheads using your favorite podcast app. If you know someone else who might enjoy the podcast, then I’d really appreciate it if you would share it with them. You can do this via the website or in your podcast app, and if you’re on social media, we’d love it if you followed us. Our handle is @kletsheads. Thanks for listening and until the next time. Or as we say in Dutch, til the Falcon. The gear.

This transcript was generated using

Comments are closed.