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Wednesday, 13 February 2013

“Be Bilingual”- a review

A while ago I found the time to read some books. As a hopeless book addict, I will read pretty much anything, but as mom to trilingual children, I am always on the lookout for good books on bi-and multilingualism. A few months ago, I read “Bilingual is better” by Ana Flores and Roxana A. Soto and wrote a review for the book.

Now, I was very happy to find “Be Bilingual- Practical Ideas for Multilingual Families” by Annika Bourgogne. I am already a frequent visitor on Annika’s website, Be Bilingual, and was thrilled to see that she was publishing a book. When it came out, I bought it.

I found this not only a good book to read, but a great resource for raising multilingual children. It is  full of practical advice and creative ideas.

The book starts with Annika’s personal story of how she discovered multilingualism for herself and her children. I always love reading personal stories of multilingualism because it shows how different the families are, and they have their own experiences and methods of raising children with many languages.

It then goes on to present the theory behind multilingualism and the most common myths that are still out there. This part is well research without being boring. On the contrary, it is written in a light tone that makes this book fun to read.

“Be Bilingual” then moves on to giving practical tips and advice on raising multilingual children in different circumstances. It shows what resources to use, and how to find them. The books can show you how to make the most of your personal situation. I loved the extensive part on how to use the Internet and video games to make your children work in the minority language and make it more interesting to them.

Last but not least, I really appreciated the part about the children’s different personalities and its influence on the child-parent relationship and multilingualism. There is no method that will work for everybody, and the end result is just as dependent on the parent’s part as by the child’s personality and character.

While I would recommend for everybody to read this book to get inspiration, information and ideas, I would like to mention what Annika says about raising multilingual children.

First she acknowledges that children’s brains are indeed sponges that can absorb all the languages without any difficulties. But then, sponges won’t absorb anything if they’re not immersed in water or some other fluid. Air, gas, or anything solid won’t work. By analogy, it is the parents’ responsibility to provide the nurturing environment to support their children’s natural abilities.

Does it sound hard? Yes, it is- but Annika says that you just have to be yourself when raising multilingual children. I think this is a relief to read. Yes, it is hard. But yes, you can do it- Annika seems to be saying. Thank you for this great, informative book!

Annika is a Finnish woman living in Helsinki with her French husband and two bilingual daughters. She has an MA in English and French, teaches both of these languages and wrote her thesis on family bilingualism. You can find Annika at her blog Be Bilingual. If you’re interested, buy the book at Amazon; follow her on Twitter and like her Facebook page.

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  1. Hi!

    My name is Gaia, and I work at InterNations.org. Maybe you have already heard of us before? If not, we are the largest social network catering the needs of expats living and working abroad.

    After reading your blog entries about your experience in the Netherlands coming from Poland, we would love to feature your blog on our website, in our Recommended Expat blog Section, where we feature and recommend blogs for our members to read. If you are interested, please write me back at: featuredblogs@internations.org

    Thank you very much, and have a great day!


    PS: Could you maybe delete this comment after you read it? Thank you!

  2. European Mama,

    Great review. I'm definitely going to be picking up this bilingual book. Being bilingual is fantastic, and a gift for our children.

    Thanks again!

    1. Hi Jeff, I totally agree! Annika did a great job with her book, and I really recommend it, and read it- let me know what you think if you do!


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