Book review: “Bilingual: Life and Reality”

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A brief and very nice read on one of the wonders of the human mind

When a retired bilingual professor who knows his field very well takes the reader on a short and friendly tour, the result is a pleasure in many aspBilingual_Cover1ects. For me, two major aspects of “Bilingual: Life and Reality” were its explaining and debunking of myths related to bilingualism (and never forgetting the fact that experiencing a new language means experiencing a new culture and way of thinking at the same time), as well as having a dedicated chapter on the bilingualism of children.

The readers who did not know much about bilingualism will gain a lot from this book without having forced to struggle with heavy academic linguistics terminology. Parents who are concerned about the bilingualism of their children will be relieved as Prof. Grosjean explains why many of the myths are problematic or plainly false.

From the beginning to the end, the personal tone of the book made me feel like as if I was in a conversation with an old friend who knew a lot about bilingualism and shared this, as well as his personal experiences, without never intimidating.

If you want a good, non-academic starter for all matters related bilingualism, this book is one of the few I can sincerely recommend.

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How to raise your children bilingually: The Bilingual Family: A Handbook for Parents

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The Bilingual Family

The Bilingual Family

Whether you moved to a different country and your child faces linguistic challenges, or there is more than one language spoken at home due to different origins of you and your partner, and you are curious (or anxious) about the proper language methods to apply when raising your child, The Bilingual Family: A Handbook for Parents, Second Edition is definitely a very rich source of information and guidance. Particularly in my case, I really want my son to have a native level command of both of the languages spoken by me and my wife. As a person who experienced a lack of communication with his grandmother and grandfather (on his mother’s side), I wish that my child does not experience the same.

I’m happy to read a very humane account of bilingualism that puts the concerns of parents and children at the center, yet being based on solid scientific research and written by specialist linguists who have also raised bilingual children. The book does not only serve as a guide, but also is an antidote against a lot of myths surrounding bilingualism.

The 18 different case studies that draw from the experience of very different families and languages, each with different combinations and attitudes regarding language use is one of the most lively parts of the book; the actual conversations of children will certainly make you smile (sometimes laugh out loudly). Moreover, the last section, where many important and critical concepts are listed alphabetically and discussed in detail will serve as a brief but very valuable guide, at least for me and our family.

Annie Murphy Paul: What we learn before we’re born

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When does learning begin? Answer: Before we are born. Science writer Annie Murphy Paul talks through new research that shows how much we learn in the womb — from the lilt of our native language to our soon-to-be-favorite foods.

Annie Murphy Paul: What we learn before we're born

Annie Murphy Paul: What we learn before we're born

The linguistic genius of babies: a human touch

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In her short TED talk, Patricia Kuhl shares astonishing findings about how babies learn one language over another — by listening to the humans around them and “taking statistics” on the sounds they need to know. Clever lab experiments (and brain scans) show how 6-month-old babies use sophisticated reasoning to understand their world:

Linguistic genius of babies

Linguistic genius of babies

The birth of a word: How an infant learns language

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MIT researcher Deb Roy wanted to understand how his infant son learned language — so he wired up his house with videocameras to catch every moment (with exceptions) of his son’s life, then parsed 90,000 hours of home video to watch “gaaaa” slowly turn into “water.” Astonishing, data-rich research with deep implications for how we learn. His TED talk is a tour de force of research in language acquisiton in children:

Deb Roy: The birth of a word

Deb Roy: The birth of a word

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