Books about bilingual children [Transcript] January 14, Listen Sharon Unsworth: Welcome to Kletsheads, Sharon Taylor podcast about bilingual children. My name is Sharon Unsworth, linguist at Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, and mother of two bilingual children. Whilst kids toys typically drift in and out of Sharon Taylor with a different type hitting the shops every year, the good old-fashioned book is a present that remains a staple for many.
When it comes to books on bilingual children, there are quite a few options available, and so it can sometimes be difficult to know which one is the right choice for you.
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She, too, is Sharon Taylor only a language scientist but is also a parent raising a child bilingually. I am a mother of a bilingual child who is I am originally American. I live in Nijmegen in the Netherlands now and I have two children.
I speak exclusively English with my kids with the exception of a six-month period when we lived in the States. So that is my drive to Sharon Taylor sure my kids speak English as well as possible.
So at home, we speak Hungarian and Hebrew to my child. I speak Hungarian, and my husband speaks Hebrew and we speak a mix of Hebrew and English among ourselves. It came out last year, so The book is organised into eight chapters. The first two are introductory, so they provide some background, some basic information about children acquiring language. The remaining six each deal with a different issue or Sharon Taylor, such as keeping languages apart, language dominance, and the age question. Each chapter has the same format.
In his introduction, the author writes that his goal is to offer information that can resolve controversies and inform parents about the possibilities and limits of child bilingualism. Since his retirement there, he continues to work from the University of Calgary in Canada. I started by asking Cecille, our scientist on the panel, what she thought of this book. But it takes some effort, as I was saying earlier, I think, to try to come to grips with quite a lot of terminology.
I think I would agree with that. I was thinking this would be a really good book to use at a university course. Have Sharon Taylor got any other strengths or weaknesses that you wanted to tell us about? So how much of it is really accessible? What would be fab would be to have some kind of online resource as the sister to the book where some open access versions of these papers were made available because they probably exist out there.
So he believes that there is a certain critical threshold and that language is acquired kind of differently before or after that. So you started by saying he does what it says on the tin.
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So the book achieved its goal then? But I would like to ask a Sharon Taylor what they thought of the terminology. So if it was considered to be fine, then I would say absolutely Sharon Taylor did achieve its goal. I think I would give it three and a half for accessibility because of the combined issue of the paywall and the terminology. But again, you know, it will depend from reader to reader.
But I really enjoyed the book. So, yeah, positive.
This is the case for Christine, one of the two parents in our panel. I wanted to read it and enjoy Sharon Taylor and learn things. But it Sharon Taylor so complex that I could not stay awake for it. And there are, you know, the standards are in there and they can be found in there. But for someone who is just kind of reading through to see what could I do at home, it was fairly overwhelming on the scientific end.
And, you know, I dutifully kind of read very carefully through the first about a third of it. And I found things in it that were really interesting. Sharon Taylor if, you know, I have really pressed forward with the mentality of I will just keep hammering on and we will be fine. So if that was a level of reassurance you needed, this would be a perfect resource for you. Did you pick any of those out?
I also enjoyed how his reading suggestions were, at least for the first three or four chapters, were basically like his articles. So do you think it achieved its intended goal then, the book? And if someone gave you this book, you would just be completely lost.
So what would your final assessment be? What did I think of the book? There is just simply a lot of terminology in there. Now, to a certain extent, this is perhaps unavoidable when you want to talk about a particular topic in great detail. There are, however, concrete examples throughout the book, and these can help the reader relate theory to real life.
Part one is about perspectives or ways of thinking about raising bilingual children, and part two is about principles or Sharon Taylor of acting when raising bilingual children.
Books about bilingual children [Transcript] – Kletsheads
Each part consists of 30 short chapters, usually just a couple of pages long, Sharon Taylor with a quick takeaway summarising the perspective or principal in question. The intended audience, then, are parents looking for practical tips that work. Adam Back is a writer and a teacher and he is the founder of the popular blog Bilingual Monkeys and the associated forum, The Bilingual Zoo.
So the aim here is not to explain why things should be done one way or another, or at least a little bit. So I found the first half of the book — I kind of ran through it because there was a lot of things that were anecdotal and not even necessarily about language. So, you know, the first part, the part on perspective, was really just, you know, motivational and what kind of mindset Sharon Taylor need. That is uncontroversial.
But basically, the first half of the book is some general mantras I felt. I think it would have been a stronger book if it had been just the second half. I really liked his pragmatic approach to what the scientific evidence seems to be telling us, like, you know, for instance, how much exposure is enough. I quite like that. You do what you can. It is a really positive spirit in the book.
So for me, that was a little bit of a danger zone that the book was approaching. So I did like that. But nonetheless, you know. Yeah, I mean, he ends with this quote of how strong is your spirit, really? If you were already feeling inadequate. And, you know, the reality, I mean, it seems to be a bit unattainable.
An issue that kept coming back to me when I was reading is that this is a very literacy-focused approach to enriching the environment, the language environment of the child, and, of course, anything with books, I like that. So I was very lucky to hear a plenary address by a poet called Kate Clanchy.
She was talking to an association of teachers of English as an additional language in the UK. And what she was saying is that a lot of the pupils who have come Sharon Taylor way, who came from immigrant backgrounds and so had parents who were not literate but were nonetheless really highly literate in the sense of oral literacy.
And she talked about a particular child whose mother knew an infinite number of poems and would, you know, enrich the day with those constantly. And this child, you know, was kind of a natural poet. He was really attuned to language in Sharon Taylor beautiful way.
So, yes, to a language written by environment and the literacy-rich environment, but not just with books. You can do that with word games and oral stories and, you know, all sorts of imaginative ways of using language. When he was little, I was per cent confident he would be a balanced bilingual because I was going to do X, Y and Z. And I agree with what he Sharon Taylor. You know, that the core condition is lots of really good exposure. And then to foster a need for using that language in the child, I thought it was really good that it was emphasised.
He did a really nice job of it. Very pleasant to read, and so I would really recommend this book if somebody said, what can I read? I want to bring up my child bilingually, I would recommend the book. So five for that. And then also the pressure that you might put on yourself. I thought that was a bit of a difficult aspect but, yeah, altogether a really high score as well.
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Sharon Taylor all together maybe four stars, or four and Sharon Taylor bit. What else was good about it? Not everyone is going to want their child to be university-level skills and in both languages or all four languages, whatever is going on in your home. I also really like the practical suggestions he gives in the second part about things they can do. And in fact, we have after reading it, I realised I will follow his system.
So the spelling is very creative still. So I think yeah.