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Tuesday, 23 October 2012

“Bilingual is better”-a review

I have just finished reading “Bilingual is better”, and I would like to share this review so that you can read it, too. You definitely should! The authors, Ana Flores and Roxana A. Soto are founders of Spanglish Baby, a great resource on raising multilingual children.

 Since I am a great fan of this blog I was very happy to find out that these two inspiring ladies wrote a book. Ana also writes for Babble, a parenting website I enjoy reading, but for a long time I was missing such an important topic as bilingualism- even though Babble already offers great articles on racism, raising children with special needs, or raising children as a lesbian couple. This gap was filled when Ana started her blog Besos which is a part of Babble Voices. Thank you, Babble!

Coming back to the book, it was a joy to read, for so many reasons. First, it is well written- which basically confirms the point that multilinguals often have a better command and understanding of language than monolinguals. Then, it is a wonderful mixture of current research on bilingualism, articles from the Spanglish Baby blog and Ana’s and Roxana’s own experiences.

Thanks to this form, “Bilingual is better” is at the same time personal and well researched- a perfect combination because it offers real life experiences and has a solid scientific foundation at the same time. I liked reading about the history of bilingualism in the US, and the situation of Spanish speakers there. And, I can’t help but think that, even though multilingualism is generally encouraged in Europe, many people face the same challenges like being told that their language is unnecessary and speaking it is a drawback to successful integration- this is for example the case with Turkish in Germany or in the Netherlands.

The bilingual and multilingual schools presented in this book sound amazing and I hope more of such schools will be opened around the world. I wish I could send my children to one of them, but I hope that The European School of The Hague will encourage diversity and multilingualism even though the classes are in Dutch so that my children will be proud rather than ashamed of speaking three- and later more languages.

All in all, “Bilingual is Better” is a book I can whole-heartedly recommend to all interested in bilingualism and who- like me- love reading intercultural experiences of real moms. The only thing I didn’t necessarily agree with is that the authors argue for everybody speaking Spanish in the US. While Spanish is without doubts a very important language, I would prefer to see that everybody would be bilingual or even multilingual without making the distinction between useful and less useful languages. Instead, everybody should be offered to learn another language, based on their cultural background, interests and preferences, rather than usefulness.

Other than that, “Bilingual is better” is informative, personal and fascinating. It took me all of two days to read it because I just couldn’t put it down! Please, do the same if you get the chance. The book is available on Amazon. Also, take a moment to browse Spanglish Baby-for me it’s a great resource on all things bilingual- and fun at the same time!

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  1. Thanks for this review. I had not heard of the book. I agree Spanglish Baby is a blog worth following, I follow them on twitter too. I grew up bilingually, and it's something I greatly appreciate!!!!

    1. You're welcome! I also grew up bilingually, and any good book about this topic is always a great thing!I love how these two ladies are so motivated to work on improving the situation of Spanish speakers in the US, and they do a great job of presenting all he studies about this. Loved the book, if you have the time, you can read it, too!

  2. Thanks for this presentation of the book. - Olga, there are many international schools in The Hague area and in the European School, which just started, there is a dutch and english section so far, but they probably will have more in the future (we have also the german and the french school...). There are also a few bilingual schools (dutch - english). We really are very lucky to have such a great range of possibilities here!

    1. Yes, I know there are many possibilities for bilingual children to go to school in their own languages, and that the European school offers classes in many languages, but these schools are not really bilingual, like the Spanish-English schools presented in the book (50:50). By comparison, the German and the French schools are just that- even though they offer some Dutch, the classes are still thought in German/French, rather than Dutch AND another language.


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