Multiple languages, multiple identities? Bilingualism and identity

Press/Media: Press / Media


Kletsheads* is a podcast about bilingual children for parents, teachers and speech language therapists. What can you expect if you’re raising your children bilingually? What’s important? What will help your children’s language development and what won’t? In each episode, Dr. Sharon Unsworth, linguist and mother of two children (both bilingual, of course), discusses the science behind the language development of bilingual children with another expert. Along the way, there are practical tips, we hear from children about what it’s like growing up with two or more languages, and we talk to parents and professionals about their experiences with bilingual children.

Period15 May 2023

Media contributions


Media contributions

  • TitleMultiple languages, multiple identities? Bilingualism and identity
    Media name/outletKLETSHEADS The podcast about bilingual children for parents, teachers and speech language therapists
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    DescriptionIdentity. It’s a word you often hear when talking about children growing up in a bilingual family, but what does identity really mean? To what extent can you have multiple identities, belonging to different cultures or ethnic backgrounds? What are the consequences for children if they identify more in one way than the other? What role do parents, friends, school and wider society have in play? In this episode, we’re answering these questions with Virginia Lam, researcher at Univeristy of Roehampton in London, herself a bilingual speaker of English and Mandarin and mother of two bilingual children.

    We learn that there’s an important difference between ‘identifying as’ and ‘identifying with’ something or someone. For example, children might consider themselves ‘half Chinese, half English’ because they have a Chinese and an English parent, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that they will feel like they are Chinese. We also heard that children start to develop their identity from very early on and that identity continues to develop throughout childhood and the teenage years into adulthood. Research shows that children who identify with both their HL culture and the mainstream culture will grow up into healthier and happier individuals and that family life will benefit from these positive identities, too.
    Producer/AuthorDr Sharon Unsworth
    PersonsVirginia Lam