Drongo Festival: “Languages for your Future”, Professional information on multilingualism and playful experimentation with language-jamming, 27 September 2014, Public Library in Amsterdam.
Linguistic matters, as “displaced people” know too well, are not of secondary importance in the processes of cultural and social integration in the global cities and villages we inhabit today. Europe is a multilingual community by definition and some of its countries such as the Netherlands claim to be forerunners in “multiculturality-enhancing” policies. Unfortunately, most of the measures that would have to inspire and support (linguistic) integration just address a single problem or issue without considering the whole ecology of a multicultural society.. and they are not always correctly applied.
Within the actual didactic-pedagogical model that is followed by most public primary schools in the Netherlands, for instance, multilingualism is often interpreted as the origin of a deficiency in the knowledge of the Dutch language and – by consequence – as an expensive obstacle to the achievement of the educational standards. Schools and professionals often consider the presence of multilingual children in a classroom as a problem rather than an opportunity for renewing education (not just as far as the linguistic disciplines concerns) for the new multicultural society.
Therefore, teachers, parents and policy makers need to be better informed about multilingualism as a cognitive and social phenomenon, about the advantages and not just the problems it implies. As researchers on multilingualism all over the world have pointed out, multilingualism provides cultural as well as cognitive advantages. One of the most important cognitive/psychological advantage is a greater metalinguistic awareness: multilingual persons are able to observe more critically how they use language, they realise how language influences their way of thinking and communicating. In this way, they are often more flexible in relating with those who think and communicate differently.
With its reach program of courses, workshops and lectures, the Drongo Festival is a useful platform for collecting information, meet and exchange experiences on this topic. It is an important initiative that can help policy makers, professionals and all citizens in general, to see multilingualism as a solution rather than a problem.
Look at the website of the Drongo Festival for more information.