Anyone with a child being brought up in a bilingual home tends to learn early on that they need to grow a thick skin. There will be comments about their child’s development, about being behind at skill, about how useful the minority language will be, and even from professionals, such as teachers, there is frequently a lot of negativity.
So imagine how much worse all of this can be when the child in the bilingual environment has special needs. Even without the bilingual element, when a child has special needs, the parents are suddenly surrounded by experts, from the person on the street or in the supermarket, to well-meaning friends and relatives. Everyone but everyone feels a need to voice an opinion, and in the case of special needs, the social attitude towards bilingualism is overwhelmingly negative.
Together with Iestyn ap Dafydd, Aran Jones is the founder of the language learning website SaySomethingIn.com. This initially started out as Say Something in Welsh, but has gradually expanded to include Spanish, Dutch, Cornish, Manx and Latin.
Aran Jones had a varied childhood, in that he lived in anumber of different countries; England, Germany, Portugal, Sri Lanka and Malaysia, and continued this lifestyle into adulthood by living in Zimbabwe and Dubai before returning to the UK and settling in Wales, his ancestral homeland. Hearing other languages was therefore a norm for him, although he did not speak any other than English. However, his grandfather had been a Welsh speaker, and so he set about learning Welsh as a second language only as an adult, using the Wlpan course.
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