1 The Department of Psychology and Educational Studies, Roskilde University
This article brings into focus the sociocultural and psychological differences that separate bilingual and bicultural children from their monocultural counterparts. This thesis is illustrated on the example of the Russian-speaking teenagers growing in Europe, in comparison with their peers who are living in Russia. These differences are evident to teachers from Russia who comes to work in a camp for Russian-speaking children in Europe and who comes to the following conclusion: “these are completely different children; they are not like those with whom we work in Russia. There is nothing in common, only dissimilarities. Our methods don't work with them ". The author relies on own empirical research which shows that bilingual’s two-cultural picture of the world is characterized by openness to people of other cultures, interest in languages, value of such qualities as goodwill and readiness to help. The article emphasizes the significance of studying bilinguals under a new angle, focusing on advantages rather than problems of bilingualism, as well as cross-cultural studies directed at extralinguistic qualities of bilinguals. Considering the problematic sides of bilingualism, the author points out the importance of studying the conflict between cultural identities that the bilingual experiences and carrying out special work to facilitate integration. Obstacles to parallel bilingualism, or good acquisition of the second language by the bilingual, are “cultural deficit" and insufficient motivation to study and use the second language. The motivation to study a language is defined by one’s relation to this language. The author connects the distinction in bilingual’s relations to the two languages with such concepts as a language being considered "socially desirable" or "socially undesirable".
Bilinguals; two-cultural teenagers; extralinguistic qualities; conflict of identities; the second language; cultural deficit; socially undesirable languages