A Few Books on Bi/multi-lingualism

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These are a few books I’ve read/found so far. Will continue to update the list as and when I found more. Some are directly linked to bi/multi-lingual subject, some are indrectly so.

The list below is in no particular order.

A Parents’ and Teachers’ Guide to Bilingualism. by Colin Baker.

This book is easy to read and can be used as some sort of practical guide book, as it’s structed in a Question and Answer format. All questions (there are hundreds of them!) are categorized into 6 groups:

A: Family questions (such as: ‘My childern can speak town languages. How can I help them to belong to two cultures?’)

B: Language Development questions (such as: Will my child become equally fluent in two languages?’, or ‘Will learning a second language interfere with development in the first language?’ or even more relevant to me ‘Is it sensible to raise my child in three languages?’)

C: Questions about problems (such as ‘Will bilingualism have any adverse effect on my child’s friendships and social development’, or ‘My child mixes the two languages. What should I do?’)

D: Reading and Writing questions (such as ‘Should my child learn to read in one language first?’, or ‘How should I help my child to read and write in both languages?’)

E: Education questions (such as ‘Should my child go to a bilingual school?’)

F: Concluding questions (such as ‘Are monolinguals more common than bilinguals in the world?’)

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7 Steps to Raising a Bilingual Child. by Maomi Steiner, M.D., with Susan L. Hayes

This is a ‘dummy for’ type of book. The author claims there are just 7 steps to follow, although I personally would rather take some useful tips out of all these steps, instead of necessarily actually following the steps. And also, this is a very US-centred book with lots of reference and discussion that is US only, so at times I feel slightly left out.

Anyway, the 7 steps are:

Step 1: building the foundation for your child’s bilingualism

Step 2: making it happen: defining your goals

Step 3: becoming a bilingual coach

Step 4: creating your bilingual action plan

Step 5: leaping over predictable obstacles

Step 6: the ‘Two Rs’: Reading and Writing in two languages

Step 7: adapting to school: the bilingual child goes to school

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Le Defi des Enfants Bilingues – Grandir et vivre en parlant plusieurs langues. by Barbara Abdelilah-Bauer.

This is one of the first books that I read on the subject. There is a good balance of academic discussion (such as simultaneous bilingualism and consecutive bilingualism) and many case studies. The only downside is that this book is in French only, as far as I’m aware of, so you will have to be able to read in French to start with … The index of the book shows:

1. Les mecanismes du langage

2. devenir bilingue

3. de la naissance a 3 ans, le bilinguisme precoce simultane

4. le bilinguisme precoce consecutif, de 3 a 6 ans

5. le bilinguisme tardif

6. de la difficulte d’etre bilingue

7. l’education d’un enfant bilingue au quotidien

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Bilingual – Life and Reality. by Francois Grosjean

I haven’t actually read the book yet, so will reserve my comments to a later time.

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How Language Works. by David Crystal

This book is not necessarily a book on bilingualism, but as a general tour through the world of language. On its cover it says ‘It ranges over everything from how children learn to read to what makes words rude or polite, from eyebrow flashes to whistling languages. Unlocking the secrets of communication in an accessible, entertaining way, this exhilarating book sheds light on the endless mysteries of the language we speak, write and read every day. ‘

So it’s an interesting read on languages itself.

It does have a chapter on ‘Multilingualism’ that discusses how multilingualism works and how we cope with many languages. It also makes you reflect on how any human being – not just a child but as an adult – cope with more than one languages, as we do often these days.

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to be continued …

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