The Foreign Service Journal - December 2017

64 DECEMBER 2017 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL EDUCATION SUPPLEMENT Nicole Schaefer-McDaniel holds a Ph.D. in environmental psychology. She and her husband, JohnMcDaniel, who joined the Foreign Ser- vice in 2009, have served in Brazil and Austria. They are currently posted to Mongolia, where Nicole teaches in the study abroad program at the School for International Training in Ulaanbaatar. Nicole is a native German speaker raising bilingual children of her own. Jennifer Dinoia is the spouse of Peter Dinoia, a special agent with the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, whom she has accompanied to postings in Virginia, Venezuela, Iceland, California and Nicaragua. They are currently stationed in Turkey. In addition to having worked overseas for the U.S. embassy in Venezuela, the International School of Iceland and the U.S. embassy in Nicaragua, Jen is a longtime volun- teer with Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide. She is trying to help her own children maintain and improve the second languages they acquired overseas. The authors would like to thank the staff at the State Department’s Family Liaison Office, the Office of Overseas Schools and the Foreign Service Institute for their input, as well as the Foreign Service parents they spoke to as they researched this article. Thanks also to Nancy Rhodes and Marjorie Myers, who provided expert advice and reviewed an early draft. H alf a century ago, linguists believed that encourag- ing children to speak more than one language would result in confu- sion and subsequent language delay. However, recent research has consistently demonstrated that not only is there no harm in exposing children to multiple languages, but that children raised in a bilingual environment may develop better problem-solving and creative-thinking skills. Some researchers even argue that growing up with multiple languages may delay the onset of neurocognitive disor- ders, such as dementia, in old age. Raising Multilingual Children in the Foreign Service Raising children in more than one language is seldom straightforward and can leave parents second-guessing their approach. Here is a look at the challenges and how to meet them. BY N I COL E SCHAE F ER - MCDAN I E L AND J ENN I F ER K I RK D I NO I A This news is important for Foreign Service families, for whom raising children in more than one language has become so common that the Foreign Service Insti- tute’s Transition Center has been offer- ing a biannual course, “Raising Bilingual Children,” since the mid-1990s. The Family Liaison Office reports that in 2016 there were 11,391 school-age children living overseas as eligible family members (EFMs) of State Department employees. Many of these children attend school in countries where English is not the primary language, some for a majority of their childhood. According to the Office of Overseas Schools (OS), approximately 7,000 ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/QVASIMODO