WorldView: A Language Blog

WorldView is a place for leaders in the fields of language education, global citizenship, immersion learning and other topics central to the Concordia Language Villages mission to address issues important to their fields.

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Multilingualism: Opening Doors for the Future

By Guest Blogger: Ilya Katsnelson | Published: November 18, 2014

Concordia Language Villages celebrates International Education Week with posts celebrating international education from some of our colleagues and friends.


On a typical day the lingua franca at our breakfast table is Russian. However, by the afternoon, when our son Phillip brings a friend or two home from school, we segue into Danish and continue that way until they leave in the evening. On weekends, however, a regular smorgasbord of English, Russian and Danish permeate the household as my oldest sons come for family dinner. And that is what you get when you are an American married to a Russian living in Denmark.

I should also add that my son Rasmus and I communicate in Spanish when we don’t want anyone to understand us. (He claims to be eternally grateful to me for sending him on a study abroad program in Mexico.) Phillip has ambitions to learn French as soon as possible, since it is the language his mother and I use to keep secrets and two of his closest friends live in Geneva, Switzerland. He has a pretty good start already; studying at the Royal Ballet School in Copenhagen, most of the terminology is French.

As a businessman, one of the greatest skills I gained in school and in life was language. The ability to communicate with people in their own tongues opens doors and opportunities. Because language is an indelible part of culture, when you show respect for your counterpart’s language, they are conscious of the effort and invariably reciprocate. We live in a global economy, and even though the U.S. is a huge market, it is interdependent with the rest of the world.

Those who take advantage of the opportunity to learn a language never regret it. For me, the doors opened on the business, social and cultural front because of my language knowledge, have been innumerable.  I consider language to be the greatest gift I can provide my children to help prepare them for the future.


About Our Guest Blogger

Ilya Katsnelson – Copenhagen, Denmark

Ilya Katsnelson was born in Moscow and came to the United States with his parents in 1976, where he became a U.S. citizen. Ilya holds a B.A. degree from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. From 1991-2001 he operated his own international trade business in Copenhagen. From 2001-2008 he was in charge of commercial management of a large tanker fleet based in Russia. Currently, he is managing an investment fund for his clients focusing on assets in Denmark and the UK.

Ilya is an investor and a member of the board of a number of companies whose activities range from IT to real estate development. He is a Vice President of the American Club in Copenhagen and on the executive board of the Brittingham Viking Organization and Democrats Abroad Denmark. With his wife, he maintains a trilingual household where English, Russian and Danish are regularly spoken. Ilya worked as a counselor at Lesnoe Ozero, the Russian Language Village, for four years. His two oldest sons attended Lesnoe Ozero and Lac du Bois, the French Language Village. He joined the Concordia Language Villages National Advisory Council in 2009.

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