Below is one of the news about the launching and the book, in English, published by the Jakarta Globe.
August 10, 2009
Katrin Figge, Jakarta Globe
A Guidebook For Raising Multilingual Children
As mixed marriages become more common and an increasing number of Indonesians choose to live abroad, there are more parents having to decide which language to speak to their children. The issue of communicating in more than one language is addressed in a new book, “Anak-Anak Multibahasa” (“Multilingual Children”), which was launched on Sunday at Gramedia bookstore in Grand Indonesia. It tells the story of nine Indonesian mothers who have lived abroad and raised multilingual children.
The book was compiled and edited by Santi Dharmaputra, from Indonesia, who has two children with her French husband and lives in Munich, Germany.
“When we were expecting our first child, my husband and I wondered which language we should raise our children to speak,” Santi said. “I communicate in English with my husband, and even though we are both fluent in English it is not our mother tongue.”
They couple chose to revert to their respective mother tongues, Indonesian for her, and French for him, when speaking to their children.
“My son now speaks four languages, Indonesian, French, German and English, but German and English he learned at school and from his surroundings. At home, we only speak Indonesian and French.”
As proof of their success, Santi played two short videos during the book launch. One shows Santi’s 7-year-old son, Joseph, who can speak Indonesian with his mother and then instantly translate what he said into French, so that his father can understand.
The other video shows Nadia, a 7-year-old girl, whose parents are currently based in Thailand. She speaks Indonesian, English, Thai and Arabic, and is able to switch from one language to another in seconds.
“In order to raise the children to be multilingual, the parents have to have strong personalities, too,” Santi said. “In a sense they are positioning themselves as global citizens but still letting their children know where they actually come from.”
However, according to Santi, Indonesian parents who live abroad tend to push their children to master a foreign language instead of Indonesian, which means there are less children able to communicate in their mother tongue. “They want their children to adapt faster to their new surroundings,” she said.
Santi also sees common misconceptions about learning Indonesian.
“Many people say that Indonesian is a very simple and easy-to-learn language,” she said. “I hear that all the time. And while that might be true, it sometimes leads to the wrong conclusion, that Indonesian as a language is not as important as others — which is why many Indonesians don’t think highly of their own language.”
The nine women who contributed to this book have all raised multilingual children to speak Indonesian, while also mastering other languages.
There is a chapter devoted to the story of each family, another chapter on why it is important for children to grow up speaking their mother tongue and two final chapters with tips and suggestions on how to raise multilingual children.
Aku Cinta Indonesia Publishing
Link to the orginal article is here
Will share more about the launching, it's media coverage, and beautiful places we visit (Bali and Bangka) once we're back in Germany.