This week, I took my eldest for a tête-à-tête lunch at McDonald’s as a half-term treat. And when I least expected it, I faced an interesting bilingual option I had never thought of before.
See, we ordered at one of the self-checkout terminals and I noticed for the first time (mind you, we do not often eat there 😉 ) it had many language options, including our 2 minority languages. As quick as a flash, I opted for English. From my eldest’s stare, I could tell she had spotted my manoeuvre. But never mind, every little bit of minority language exposure is good enough for me! Especially now that she is a reader.
What’s so good about turning this point of sale’s language to the minority language? Well consider all these little pros:
- It shows that the minority language exists outside of home – giving it some sort of social significance. It takes the minority language beyond the limit of the home and family ambit.
- It contributes to resisting the crushing influence of the Majority Language – Okay, it is a tiny minority language dwarf in front of the huge Majority Language giant, but here it stands, as a reminder that it also exists.
- It tops-up our vocabulary with words we do not get to use at home- For instance: “Eat in”, which I have probably not used since I left the UK.
- It provides a little extra minority language reading – For sure it is not much, but I am a firm believer that every little helps.
- It can get a translation discussion started – Some devices’ translation might not be top-notch, but never mind because this can still give rise to a discussion with your child and making them think about how it should be and/or teaching them the art of translation (which ain’t always natural to kids).
- It makes the minority language even more part of the child’s life, regardless of the place.
- It makes multilingual look normal – otherwise, why would this device offer language options? 😉
It might not seem much, but in bilingual education and fighting off the influence of the Majority Language, I take it any time!
It had never crossed my mind before but I will do the same next time I use my supermarket self-checkouts, which I have noticed to be bilingual English-French though it had never occured to me switching its language.