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Language Strategies for Bilingual Families

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  • Donald Z. Osborn
    FYI, a new publication... DZO Language Strategies for Bilingual Families : The One-Parent - One-Language Approach Author: Suzanne Barron-Hauwaert
    Message 1 of 2 , Jun 8, 2004
      FYI, a new publication... DZO

      Language Strategies for Bilingual Families :
      The One-Parent - One-Language Approach

      Author: Suzanne Barron-Hauwaert


      [Parents' & Teachers' Guides series]

      Format: Paperback (pp: 248) ISBN: 1-85359-714-7
      Publication date: Jul 2004


      This book looks at how families can support and increase bilingualism through
      planned strategies. One such strategy is the one person-one language approach,
      where each parent speaks his or her language. Over a hundred families from
      around the world were questioned and thirty families were interviewed in-depth
      about how they pass on their language in bilingual or trilingual families.


      1. Introduction.

      CHAPTER 1:
      2. The One-Parent-One Language Approach.

      What Is It? CHAPTER 2:

      The First Three Years And Establishing The One-Parent-One Language Approach
      CHAPTER 3:
      3. Starting School And Becoming Bicultural: One-Culture-One-Person?.

      CHAPTER 4:
      4. Interaction Between Family Members And The One-Person-One.
      5. Language Approach.

      CHAPTER 5:
      6. One-Parent-One Language Families: Expectations And The.
      7. Reality.

      CHAPTER 7:
      8. Seven Strategies For Language Use Within The Family.
    • Don Osborn
      Here is a review of Language Strategies for Bilingual Families. An announcement of the title was posted last June as message #107. (Reposted from the Linguist
      Message 2 of 2 , Oct 28, 2004
        Here is a review of Language Strategies for Bilingual Families. An
        announcement of the title was posted last June as message #107.
        (Reposted from the Linguist list.) DZO

        Date: 28-Oct-2004
        From: Beate Luo <beate@...>
        Subject: Language Strategies for Bilingual Families: The One-Parent
        One-Language Approach

        Author: Barron-Hauwaert, Suzanne
        Title: Language Strategies for Bilingual Families
        Subtitle: The One-Parent One-Language Approach
        Series Title: Parents & Teachers Guides
        Publisher: Multilingual Matters
        Year: 2004
        Announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/15/15-1736.html

        Dr. Beate Luo, Feng Chia University, Taiwan


        This 220-page monograph shows the results of a questionnaire given to
        over 100 families and additional interviews of 30 families. It aims
        at answering the question how successful the 'one-person-one-
        language' (OPOL) strategy is, where each parent speaks his or her
        native language. In addition, it examines other strategies such
        as 'mixed use', 'minority language at home', 'trilingual', 'non-
        native', and 'time and place'.

        The author, Suzanne Barron-Hauwaert, specialized in bilingualism and
        bilingual education. She has published several publications on this
        subject and is a member of the Editorial Board for The Bilingual
        Family Newsletter. In addition, she has gained substantial experience
        in the education of bilingual children by becoming herself a mother
        of two bilingual children.

        The introduction states the ten questions the author wanted to
        investigate in her study, gives an overview of the organization of
        the book, some background information on the selection of families
        for the questionnaire and the interviews, as well as on the author

        Part one of the first chapter deals with the origin of OPOL,
        summarizes the most important research done on child bilingualism,
        and looks at parents' opinions about OPOL. In part two the author
        explains the differences between mixing and code-switching, how the
        first is more a stage in a child's development, the influence parents
        and their language use have on mixing and code-switching, and what
        parents think about mixing.

        The second chapter focuses on very young children to up to three
        years. In the first part the author stresses the importance of
        motherese and fatherese, of the consistency of their language use as
        well as how exposure to a language may be increased. The second part
        looks on the stages of development of language learning in two
        languages, language differentiation, language refusal, and how
        the 'false monolingual strategy', i.e. one parent pretending that
        he/she does not understand the majority language, can be used in
        order to get the child respond in the minority language.

        Part one of chapter three addresses the beginning of school and
        problems related to homework, as well as the question if the other
        parental language or a third language should be chosen when it comes
        to choosing a foreign language class. In part two the author talks
        about the cultural heritage of the parents, as well as bicultural
        identity and the problem of anomie, and shows how children reacted to
        growing up with different cultures.

        Chapter four is devoted to the interaction between family members
        using the OPOL approach. Part one looks at the problem how children
        deal with talking to both parents, switching between languages. In
        part two the role of the extended family, especially the linguistic
        role of the grandparents, is discussed, while part three focuses on
        the language use of siblings when talking together. Part four finally
        addresses the problems arising with communication with the outside
        world and visitors, what kind of strategies may be needed or how the
        strategies used may be adapted in a temporary way, to suit the

        Chapter five looks at some of the areas, which can affect the success
        and failure of bringing up children bilingually. The first part
        discusses how parent's expectation often do not match with the
        reality, how parent's positive or negative beliefs in their child's
        potential bilingualism can affect the outcome, what parents think are
        the advantages and disadvantages of bilingualism, and the influence
        the prestige of each parental language in the society where they live
        may have and consequently affect the outcome. The second part
        concentrates on issues such as isolation of one partner, the one-
        parent family, speech problems and how these can erode the confidence
        of the family in supporting bilingualism when under pressure from
        monolingual speech therapists.

        Chapter six focuses on tri- and multilingualism. Part one first gives
        a definition of tri- and multilingualism, what parents think about
        their trilingual children and how they cope with three languages and
        cultures. Part two of this chapter gives a summary of a study the
        author made in 1999 on ten trilingual families.

        In chapter 7 the author examines other strategies such as 'minority
        language at home', 'trilingual strategy', 'mixed strategy', 'time and
        place strategy' and the 'artificial' or 'non-native' strategy besides
        the 'OPOL ¡V majority-language strongest', and the 'OPOL ¡V
        minority-language supported by the other parent' strategies and
        discusses how strategies may change in order to suit the

        The last chapter gives a summary of all the important issues raised
        throughout the book and different ways to implement OPOL successfully
        in a household.

        Finally, sources of information for bilingual families and a
        glossary, which defines key words pertaining to bilingualism, are


        This book provides an excellent framework for parents who are
        interested in and concerned by raising bilingual children. Although
        it has been shown before that the OPOL approach is working, which
        influence siblings and the extended family may have, etc. (see
        Taeschner 1983; Doepke 1992; Cunningham- Anderson and Anderson 1999;
        Baker 2000; Tokuhama-Espinosa 2001; just to name a few), this book
        still provides a rich resource of information. It gives a detailed
        summary of the research done before, which is then used to support
        the many directions and practical advice on how to support a child's
        linguistic development. Furthermore, the authors own experiences as a
        member of a bilingual family as well as the comments of parents from
        the questionnaire and the many case studies give an even deeper
        insight into the many facets of raising bilingual children. It is
        thus not just a guide for parents but as well interesting for

        However, there are mainly two criticisms one may have. The first one
        is the presentation of graphics, which are often not well enough
        explained. As an example for this I want to mention Figure 2.1 on
        page 25, captioned 'Age and language proficiency in children'. The
        data in this figure are presented and discussed in the text as if
        this was a study where children's competency in two or more languages
        had been recorded over a period of time, while it actually compares
        children of different background and different age groups at one
        specific time with each other. Another example can be found on page
        57. Here, the differences in language proficiency between girls and
        boys are discussed for different age groups, but the corresponding
        figure (Fig. 3.2) gives data only for boys and girls in total -
        without separation into age groups.

        Another criticism goes to the editor, because the many typing errors
        in this book are quite annoying. With a bit more proof- reading these
        errors could have been easily eliminated.


        Baker, C. 2000: A parents' and teachers' guide to bilingualism.
        Multicultural Matters, Clevedon

        Cunningham-Anderson, U. and Anderson, S. 1999: Growing up with two
        languages: A practical guide. Routledge, London

        Doepke, S. 1992: One parent, one language. An interactional approach.
        John Benjamins, Amsterdam

        Taeschner, T. 1983: The sun is feminine: A study in language
        acquisition in childhood. Springer Verlag, Berlin

        Tokuhama-Espinosa, T. 2001: Raising multilingual children: Foreign
        language acquisition and children. Bergin and Garvey, Westport, CT


        Dr. Beate Luo is an associate professor at the Foreign Languages and
        Literature Department of Feng Chia University in Taiwan. Her research
        interests include teaching English as a Foreign Language, developing
        course material for English for Specific Purposes, and bilingual
        education. She is as well a mother of three bilingual children.
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