Language Strategies for Bilingual Families
- 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.
2. The One-Parent-One Language Approach.
What Is It? CHAPTER 2:
The First Three Years And Establishing The One-Parent-One Language Approach
3. Starting School And Becoming Bicultural: One-Culture-One-Person?.
4. Interaction Between Family Members And The One-Person-One.
5. Language Approach.
6. One-Parent-One Language Families: Expectations And The.
8. Seven Strategies For Language Use Within The Family.
- 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
From: Beate Luo <beate@...>
Subject: Language Strategies for Bilingual Families: The One-Parent
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
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
ABOUT THE REVIEVER
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.