Since the beginning of the 1980s, Foyer has built up broad expertise in multilingual parenting, dealing with home languages and the learning of integration language(s). Originally the focus was multilingual education and language awareness. Foyer has always been committed to minority languages and believes language diversity is an added value for the individual and for society.
Multilingualism develops first and foremost within the family. Home is where the first linguistic choices are made and where children learn their attitude towards languages and language-learning. There is also growing international attention for the role of the family unit, giving rise to the concept of Family Language Policy. Language choices and the manner in which languages are learned within a family are central to this. It is also the subject of a recent research domain in which many practical suggestions have been formulated. Foyer’s Partners in Multilingualism (PIM) expertise centre has taken on the task of adapting this to Brussels’ multilingual context, via consultations for individual families and workshops for groups of parents. These activities are primarily directed at young families. For young individuals, we have a tailored approach in which the relationship between language use and identity is central. There is also professional support with advice and training, either for individual children or within a school or workplace.
If multilingual development isn’t going as it should, a proper diagnosis is necessary to know whether the child is suffering from a language disorder or if a different approach is needed. To get appropriate support, it’s important to understand the development of the home language. Foyer can provide language analysis to deepen understanding of the difficulties a child may be having.
We are also working on further expanding our expertise in collaboration with, among others, ULB, VUB and VIVES university college. Through our involvement in European projects, we achieve a broader exchange of experiences and develop tools that we can integrate into our practices.
We come into contact with many professionals who are equally committed to an enhanced approach to multilingual education and to learning both the home and integration language. Even so, awareness campaigns are still necessary. This happens on a project basis in collaboration with our partners. Every year, for example, Foyer organises a new initiative in the context of International Mother Language Day on 21 February. And at the request of partners, we support other projects related to multilingualism.