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Re: Fwd: "Growing Up with Two Languages"

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  • Don Osborn
    FYI, a review of this title for which the announcenent was posted as message #153. According to the reviewer, the section on literacy & reading (in Ch. 6) is
    Message 1 of 2 , Jul 10, 2006
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      FYI, a review of this title for which the announcenent was posted as
      message #153. According to the reviewer, the section on literacy &
      reading (in Ch. 6) is "one of the most comprehensive and useful parts"
      of the book. (Fwd from Linguist list)... DZO

      Date: 14-Jul-2005
      From: Magdalena Fialkowska <fialka@...>
      Subject: Growing Up with Two Languages: A Practical Guide

      AUTHORS: Cunningham-Andersson, Una; Andersson, Staffan
      TITLE: Growing Up with Two Languages
      SUBTITLE: A Practical Guide
      PUBLISHER: Routledge (Taylor and Francis)
      YEAR: 2004
      Announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/15/15-2703.html

      Magdalena Anna Fialkowska, School of English,
      Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Poland


      The book aims to serve as a practical guide for parents whose everyday
      life involves using two or more languages. The authors attempt to
      describe how families are affected by living with two languages and
      cultures and how these aspects are related to each other in a
      bicultural and bilingual environment. Many issues are discussed
      "cross-methodologically", i.e. are based on opinions provided by
      informants living in various linguistic arrangements. Throughout the
      book the authors convince the readers that a bilingual home is not a
      privilege of exogamic couples and, and even though it may involve
      issues unknown to a monolingual home it is less complicated that one
      may think. The book presents data from 150 individuals and families.
      It provides new and updated Internet resources, gives information on
      the problems faced by teenagers and their possible solutions, reports
      on new research into language acquisition, and offers first-hand
      advice and examples.


      The book consists of nine chapters, four appendices, a glossary, a
      bibliography, and a term index.

      CHAPTER 1: Families with two languages
      The first section discusses the origins of family bilingualism. The
      authors show how reasons for moving from one country to another are
      influenced by people's diverse expectations and motivations. In the
      second section language choice, language mixing, language switching,
      and communication are discussed. The language that parents decide to
      use at the beginning will influence the future system of communication
      in the family. The last section focuses on the minority language
      families, i.e. immigrants, refugees, international employees, and
      visiting academics who move to another country. These families are in
      a better position since, if necessary, they can close their door to
      the majority culture in order to feel "safe" at home using the
      minority language. The authors make it clear, however, that these
      families are not free from problems.

      CHAPTER 2: Expecting a child in a bilingual home
      In this chapter the most important question is: "What do you want for
      your child?" People's reasons for raising children bilingually vary
      depending on plans, e.g., if the family intends to stay in the
      majority language country, or not. The first section stresses that a
      child should be able to become a part of the minority language
      community if there is one in the area, and whatever the situation, it
      should be vital for the parents to ensure that their children should
      not only be able to communicate with their minority language
      relatives, but also be aware of the cultural background of the
      minority language parent. Parents are also advised to speak their
      native languages to the child. The second section of the chapter
      focuses on planning, e.g., who is going to speak which language to the
      child, and in what way any unusual conditions, e.g., child's
      disability or a sudden need to move away, may influence this system.
      The problem of giving names to children is also introduced here and
      several solutions are suggested. The last section draws parents'
      attention to issues such as children's willingness or unwillingness to
      be exposed to public attention by speaking the minority language to
      them, negative opinions about the minority language, reactions from
      minority language grandparents, and others.

      CHAPTER 3. The family language system
      Chapter three attempts to distinguish between three types of systems:
      One-Parent-One-Language method, One-Parent-One-Location strategy, and
      several types of "artificial" bilingualism, such as placing children
      in an international school or employing a foreign au-pair. Each
      strategy is discussed separately. The authors explain that any system
      will work if it answers the needs of the family members and is
      flexible enough to be changed if necessary. It is underlined, however,
      that no system is allowed to interfere with the siblings' choice of
      language to communicate. Many aspects, e.g., the child's unbalanced
      input in the OPOL method or being strict about the system established
      at home, are supported by the informants' opinions.

      CHAPTER 4. Language development
      Chapter four briefly describes the moment when a child recognizes
      speech and starts producing sounds. The importance of an equal input
      in both languages is stressed and advice is given on how to correct a
      child who mixes newly acquired words when addressing the parents
      without disappointing the child. The question taken up is why it is
      essential for the minority language parents not to avoid using their
      native language unless it is necessary. These parents often do so in
      public so as not to expose their child to public attention, or switch
      to the majority language when talking to their offspring in front of
      monolingual children so as not to let them feel left out. Because of
      these practices, such parents often become hesitant speakers unable to
      cope with discussions with their teenage children, whose knowledge of
      the minority language soon becomes passive. Interference and mixing is
      the focus of the second section, which convinces us that "what is true
      for one child may not be for other" (p. 55), and, consequently, with
      two or three children parents may witness very different ways of
      linguistic development. There is no need to worry, though, if the
      interference and mixing phase gets sorted out with time in the case of
      one child and in the case of the other some encouragement is necessary
      to make the child use appropriate words. The chapter ends with a brief
      overview of the critical period hypothesis.

      CHAPTER 5: The child with two languages
      This chapter focuses on schooling as well as the pros and cons of
      bilingual upbringing. During early childhood, any attempts to analyse
      the stream of sounds made by a child are hindered by the existence of
      two languages, while the amount of words that the child has to learn
      is doubled. For older children being different from the peers turns
      out to be a problem and a question arises as to what can be done to
      make children feel proud of their atypical childhood. The advantages
      of growing up in two languages include having access to the rich world
      of language and literature, and the ability to communicate with one's
      relatives with ease. Also, if necessary, passive knowledge of the
      minority language can easily be activated. In the second section, the
      authors consider it vital that children learn their two languages at
      their own pace, and stress that literacy in both languages is the only
      way to help children discover the true value of being bilingual.

      CHAPTER 6: Practical parenting in a bilingual home
      Chapter six opens with a list of instructions helping children make
      the most of the bilingual situation around them. Home language
      education and Saturday schools are suggested, and additional ways of
      enhancing children's exposure to the minority language are listed,
      e.g. networking (i.e. meeting monolingual minority language speakers),
      mini-immersion (when a child attends school in the minority language
      country for a few days), trips, TV, books, and others. The second part
      gives some ideas how to obtain materials in the minority language and
      concentrates on what should be done at home to help a child become
      fluent in the minority language. These involve: talking to a child
      about things a parent is/was/will be doing, listening to the child
      with gentle corrections of his/her speech, keeping track of the
      child's development in order to compare its stages, reading to and
      with the child.

      CHAPTER 7: Competence in two cultures
      Chapter seven is concerned with raising children in two cultures. In
      the first part the authors present two groups of parents having
      contrasting views on bicultural upbringing. Yet, the authors stress
      that regardless of whether the parents want their children to be
      bicultural or not, every family must make a firm decision which must
      be made active. It is also explained that "while parents alone can
      give children a second language, they will not be able to give them a
      second culture without the help of others and the support of the
      society" (p. 88). The difference between helping children "feel at
      home" in the two cultures and merely showing them how to "be polite"
      in both of them must be remembered. The second section deals with
      religion and briefly explains why religion and culture are intimately
      associated with each other. The last section focuses on traditions,
      hospitality, and social behaviour with its consequences. This section
      stresses the assets which are offered by the intercultural upbringing
      not only to young people - by showing them how the same aspects may be
      viewed differently - but also to adults who can see their own culture
      through new eyes.

      CHAPTER 8. Problems you may encounter
      This chapter analyses several problematic areas. The first is
      concerned with the parents' linguistic competence and the quality of
      input that a child receives. Parents are advised to use their native
      language, since the use of other language than their own may result in
      the child's acquiring non-native features in their speech. Minority
      language parents are advised to support their language so as not to
      let it become old-fashioned. These parents may try one of the methods
      recommended in the subsection on language attrition. The second issue
      deals with semilingualism, defined as a lack of native-speaker
      competence in either of the speaker's languages. The notion of
      semilingualism is applied to children who have a limited exposure to
      the minority language. The chapter ends with two sections devoted to
      such problems as divorce, death of a parent, moving away, or bringing
      up a child with disabilities.

      CHAPTER 9. The way ahead
      In the last chapter such aspects as motivation, identity, self-image,
      encouragement for teenagers and improving language proficiency are
      discussed. It is emphasized that motivation will fluctuate and that
      parents' motivation strongly influences the children's willingness to
      speak the minority language. This is why working with children
      systematically is extremely important, and, at the same time, very
      difficult. Children often feel disappointed that they are not
      indistinguishable from their monolingual peers, and parent's
      encouragement may be of help to them. As regards identity, teenagers
      are the most sensitive group and convincing them that a visit to the
      minority language country can fill most gaps left in the minority
      language may ease most of their doubts. However, the book rightly
      points out that the parents' main aim should be to ensure that their
      children feel at home in the majority language country, while it is
      secondary to help them feel at home in the minority language country.
      Improving one's linguistic proficiency is also discussed.

      Appendix A: Organising a workshop on raising children This appendix
      may function as a guide for parents, teachers, and others interested
      in the mutual exchange of experience and tips concerning raising
      children in two languages. It provides readers with a sample of a
      programme for a two-hour high-level workshop, and helps them prepare a
      similar meeting in their own communities giving them a list of issues
      to be considered.

      Appendix B: Ways to support a child's development in two languages
      This appendix discusses three types of meetings supporting children's
      bilingual development. The goal of The Parent and Child Group is to
      make families with the same minority language meet and exchange
      opinions. The Minority Language Play School is a place where children
      are left with teachers or leaders. Smaller children may need a
      settling-period, thus is it better suited for pre-school and school
      children. Finally, Saturday School is a good idea for children of all
      ages, but as this type of meeting needs extra motivation, children are
      rarely willing to sacrifice another morning at school. All these ways
      of supporting children's bilingualism require good teachers,
      materials, location, and funds.

      Appendix C: Documenting a child's linguistic development The third
      appendix is a set of three photocopiable sheets for parents to keep
      track of their children's linguistic development: Vocabulary
      Development sheet consists of four columns ("Object", "Language 1",
      "Language 2" and "Comments"), Mean Length of Utterance and Language
      Mixing sheet (one column for "Sentence", one to count words and one to
      count mixing) and the Pronunciation sheet (one column for words and
      the other to explain problems a child has with pronouncing them).

      Appendix D: Internet resources
      The last appendix enumerates Internet addresses grouped into three
      categories: Web links, Meeting places and Locating material. They are
      a helpful starting point providing links to many resources, including
      discussion panels, mailing lists, online communities, Internet
      bookshops and others.


      What made the book especially intriguing to me was the authors
      themselves: brought up in Northern Ireland, Cunningham-Andersson
      studied Spanish, French and Irish as a foreign language learner, was a
      second language learner living in Spain for a year, and first came
      into contact with Swedish at the age of 20, while Andersson uses a
      language which he has not fully mastered to communicate with his wife.
      Their book covers a wide spectrum of aspects concerned with not only
      raising children to be bilingual, but also their future, their
      relations with friends and family, the parents' linguistic situation
      and development, and many others. All these aspects are supported by
      creative ideas and opinions provided by informants coming from various
      corners of the world and speaking different languages, e.g., English,
      Japanese, Spanish, Hebrew, Swedish, Taiwanese, Portuguese, Slovak,
      German, Chinese, French, and others. Much attention is paid to aspects
      omitted in other books, such as close and distant plans, death of a
      parent, sharing religious plans for children or feelings of other
      "parties" involved, e.g., grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles,
      friends, peers etc. The authors do not claim that their methods are
      ideal, but show both strong and weak sides of many choices, which
      makes most of their advice easily applicable, helpful and practical.

      The section about literacy is worth mentioning as one of the most
      comprehensive and useful parts (Chapter 6), stressing the importance
      of reading to and with children (especially those raised bilingually)
      before and after they learn how to read. Mostly, I appreciated the
      authors' optimistic approach towards unforeseen turns in life which
      force parents to change or give up their plans for a bilingual family.
      I was also happy to find a comprehensive overview of problems and
      rewards of introducing two cultures, as well as many social and
      individual challenges resulting from living "in two cultures". It was
      also intriguing for me to observe how reading about other parents'
      experience helps me understand the authors' explanations. One of the
      greatest advantages of the book are the appendices which I found to be
      an invaluable source of information and ideas showing that a workshop
      can be more than just a meeting for the parents.

      As to the drawbacks, first I would like to point to the confusion in
      the use of the term "bilingual". In the preface, the authors explain
      that their avoidance of the term "bilingual" results from the
      difficulty in providing the criteria to measure one's bilingualism (p.
      xii). Later in the book, they do not provide any comments when quoting
      parents using this term with reference to the children's abilities. I
      find this situation perplexing, as it seems clear that informants use
      the term "bilingual" to describe their children's ability to
      communicate in both languages, not necessarily being balanced in both
      of them. Since positing a generally accepted definition appears to be
      so difficult, why to abandon the term so soon? And why do it at all?

      I feel a similar ambivalence towards certain limits that the book
      places on itself. Firstly, the authors mostly refer to groups,
      organizations, and families in Sweden, i.e. their own home country.
      Secondly, some advise might be given from a family in which children
      have to learn an alphabetic as well as a non-alphabetic writing
      system, e.g., an English-Japanese family.

      CHAPTER 2:
      The section "Making plans" (p. 18) seems to deal with similar aspects
      as the previous section ("What do you want for your child" (p. 12)),
      i.e. planning and choosing what is best for the child. They might have
      been included under one heading.

      CHAPTER 3:
      Naming one of the sections "'Artificial' bilingualism" (p. 41) seems
      contradictory and unfair to me. The authors avoid the term since
      defining a bilingual without going into details is too complicated.
      They claim that it is almost impossible to be truly bilingual unless
      one receives the same amount of input of the two languages, which in
      reality is a very difficult task. Thus, trying to raise a child to be
      bilingual (which is already doubtful) with the use of "artificial"
      methods seems to be even more impossible. In addition, why should we
      call it "artificial" at all, if a family wants to change the place of
      residence for some time to help their children pick up a foreign

      CHAPTER 8
      The authors advise parents bringing along a pre-school helper to the
      country they are going to move to in order to maintain the children's
      skills in the minority language. Since such a scheme is very costly,
      it may, however, not be available to many bilingual families. In the
      subsection "Death of a parent" (p. 113) the authors claim that if it
      is the minority language parent who dies, the children's competence in
      this language is seriously jeopardized. I believe that if the majority
      language parent dies, children's linguistic and psychological
      development is equally endangered. There are families where minority
      language parents do not learn the majority language and in such cases
      these parents' competence in the majority language may be too low to
      communicate with children immediately after the death of the majority
      language parent. Although there is still the minority language to use,
      it is often the children's weaker language, and talking, e.g., about
      school may be difficult for the first few months.

      My only criticism here applies to Appendix D. Some of the pages are
      old (e.g., Bilingual Families Web Page was last updated in 1998),
      while some URLS are not valid (e.g., Bilingual Families Web Page >
      Resources > Nordic Languages > Barnesiden). In addition, there occurs
      some permanent error when one tries to subscribe to the mailing list
      under Biling-Fam Internet mailing list.

      The book is generally nicely edited with very few spelling errors.


      Overall, this book is aimed for all parents who would like to give
      their children a chance to grow up in two languages. It may be
      valuable not only for families where parents have different native
      languages, but also for any family where children are taught a
      minority language, be it in the kindergarten, from an au-pair or at
      school. Problems to consider are often similar in there families, and
      this book collects them all in one place. This book may also appear
      useful for teachers working with children brought up in mixed
      families, as it helps them learn what kind of problems such children
      deal with and how to help them.


      Magdalena Fialkowska is currently a PhD student at the English
      Department at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland, but in two
      months she will transfer her PhD to the University of Surrey,
      Guildford, England. She will spend three years in the Department of
      Linguistic, Cultural and Translational Studies working on her PhD,
      which is going to be focused on the acquisition of morphology by
      Polish-English bilingual children.

      --- In Multilingual_Literacy@yahoogroups.com, "Don Osborn" <dzo@...>
      > FYI, a guide for parents bringing their children up bilingually. Not
      > sure to what extent development of reading skills in the two
      > languages are mentioned. (Reposted from Linguist list)... DZO
      > Date: 15-Sep-2004
      > From: Kaiulani Kaneta <kkaneta@...>
      > Subject: Growing Up with Two Languages: Cunningham-Andersson,
      > Andersson
      > Title: Growing Up with Two Languages
      > Subtitle: A Practical Guide
      > Publication Year: 2004
      > Publisher: Routledge (Taylor and Francis)
      > http://www.routledge.com/
      > Author: Una Cunningham-Andersson
      > Author: Staffan Andersson
      > Hardback: ISBN: 0415333318 Pages: 192 Price: U.S. $ 90.00
      > Paperback: ISBN: 0415333326 Pages: 192 Price: U.S. $ 22.95
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