Raising Multilingual Children: Foreign Language Acquisition and Children
This book evaluates the most recent research in linguistics, neurology, education, and psychology and reinterprets the findings in an easy-to-follow format. Case studies illustrate the many ways families combine ten key factors in order to successfully raise multilingual children. The book encourages parents and teachers to reflect on their personal situations and helps them to foster multilingual skills in the children around them.
“Tracey Tokuhama-Espinosa has provided parents and caregivers an engaging encounter with the complex, but laudable enterprise of facilitating language acquisition in children. This text is an exciting addition to the library of homes raising children equipped to live in our multicultural world.”–Terry A. Osborn Co-director, Foreign Language Education Department of Secondary Education and Youth Services Queens College, City University of New York
“This book, whilst entertaining to read, is not just another opinion on the subject. It provides a comprehensive guideline backed up with scientifically proven data, yet leaving plenty of room for individual development.”–Marlene Hall-Amsler Translator
“Raising Multilingual Children is a brilliantly written introduction to the possibilities of promoting children’s language skills in the family, especially in multilingual settings. This book can be warmly recommended as being one of the rare examples of concrete, well-structured help for parents, teachers, and caregivers who are facing the challenge of encouraging bilingual and multilingual development `in real life.’ It is particularly valuable and convincing because it blends sound knowledge about the psychological, linguistic, and social dimensions of language learning, reflexive personal experience, with a refreshing and enthusiastic approach to the issues. All this is presented in a witty style, so mouth-watering that hardly any reader will resist trying out the concept.”–Cristina Allemann-Ghionda Professor of Education University of Cologne, Germany
“Having myself raised three children in a polyglot situation and being often puzzled by contradicting advice, I would have enjoyed having a book like this much earlier. This book may be a guide through difficult times and answer questions about how, when and what to do about language education…. A real tool to help understand the construction of language and to work out a personalized program adapted to every case.”–Beatte Broadhurst Teacher
“An excellent resource for any family wishing to develop an individual approach to multiple language acquisition…. This book is a valuable source of information and strategies for international school parents and teachers.”–Silke Vannatter Coordinator, Learning Support International School of Geneva
An EXCELLENT resource for children + foreign languages!
I highly recommend, Raising Multilingual Children, written by Tracey Tokuhama-Espinosa. This Book is for all parents, teachers and caregivers of children who speak more than one language. I also think this Book is a great resource for any parent, who considers learning (a) foreign language(s) an intellectual challenge and a necessary facet for a well-rounded education.
I found the 90 family case studies/detailed accounts of family experiences with foreign languages helpful as I could relate to many issues I have encountered with my older daughter. I also gained valuable information by reading many personal family experiences that Ms. Tokuhama-Espinosa shares about her 3 children.
This Book was built upon the foundation of Tracey Tokuhama-Espinosa’s 12 years of valuable diverse experience as a counselor of students in two international schools-Tokyo and Quito, conducting research and attending lectures at Harvard Graduate School of Education, and living in multilingual /culturally diverse countries. Contained here in this Book are: an excellent family language profile, family language goals worksheet, and an extensive appendix of how to find language sources in a scarce language environment, an excellent glossary of linguistic terms and an extensive bibliography. There is also a chapter that addresses difficulties in foreign language acquisition, which gives some strategies for solving problems that arise.
For anyone who wants to know more about children learning foreign language(s) children -or moves and finds their children in the situation of learning a new language this Book is a must read!
Parent’s Guide to Multilingual Children
I read this book before putting it in my school’s library and enjoyed every minute. Most of the books I read about multilingualism and literacy are not easily accessible to families because of language and terminology – but this manages to be both profound and very readable and the store of case studies is a big help as families will recognize situations and strategies similar to their own. It also bears out my own experience – although I am not a language teacher, as Head of a large international school I come across a great many families who have the anxieties and concerns (as well as the vision and the excitement) of so many parents who are described in this book and who are bringing up their own multilingual children. THis will be a great help and support to them and give them some clear foundations about what their own role as parents can be.
Excellent guide for multilingual families!
For a bilingual mother who is raising two children in three languages, and for whom our multilingual adventure has been a very rough ride so far, this has been one of the most fascinating and helpful books on the subject. I read this book with relief and the feeling that finally, finally there is a book that is cutting through superficialities to what really matters!
We parents have the choice of wrestling ourselves through tons of scientific publications, or reading yet another generalized introduction on ‘what is bilingualism’. In the meantime I’m clear on what bilingualism is. But when there are problems, what then? There are very few, if no books out there, really, that dare venture into that area. Many books chew the same matter over and over and over again. They outline the typical models (one parent one language, minority vs majority language etc) as if reality is always that clear-cut for one model to apply; attempt to give a short solution (‘be consistent’) and leave it at that. Tokuhama’s book is one of the very few ones that actually manages to go a step further and discusses in a compassionate, engaging manner the highly complex issues that a multilingual upbringing takes, taking into account the often difficult choices that we parents are confronted with.
Furthermore, there is a lot written on the topic of bi-lingualism, yet when it comes to dealing with three or more languages, the material is scant. Add problems and complications to the situation (what if the family has to relocate? what if there is speech delay? what if the child “loses” a language? etc.) and all that we have as references are tons of books on bi-lingualism which multilingual families are to resort to for advice.
Tokuhama’s book with her focus on more than two languages, therefore, is a much needed book that fills a gigantic gap in the market. She not only writes with zest and humor but also with sensitivity and understanding. The cooking metaphor is witty and charming, and it illustrates well how our multilingual situation is indeed, very akin to cooking! Yet, raising multilingual children is not at all a piece of cake, and the author doesn’t try to dish up Bilingualism with sugar coating, either. Instead, she reflects on her own experiences and analyzes complex case studies, provides practical advice and a plethora of resources.
With regards some critics’ claim that this book is not scientific enough: Let’s be honest. As a parent (and I am certain many parents share my viewpoint), I am neither interested in statistics nor lengthy, detailed discourses that attempt to prove the validity of one theory or another. Read an academic journal or other books if that is what you seek, there are plenty of them around. But don’t expect a book that aims at giving advice to families to fulfill this purpose. Let me emphasize that this book is founded on solid scientific research; however, unlike many other writers, the author successfully manages to establish a link to the reality of her readers, which, to some critics, may appear to be unscientific.
As the author herself writes, her Windows of Opportunity theory adds to the already existing spectrum of theories by uniting other linguistic theories. They are not contradictory, but complementary. The Windows of Opportunity-theory gave me another, wider perspective to help me understand the complex phenomenon of multilingualism in our own lives. I found it to be a helpful and very encouraging, positive theory. Ultimately, it is up to the reader to decide which theory of multilingualism is most suitable to their personal situation.
Regarding case studies, I believe that there cannot be enough case studies in books like these. There are about as many forms of multilingualism as there are multilingual families, and by just focusing on two or three case studies to represent the majority, any book on the topic would be too generalized and superficial. Raising Multingual Children, however, seems to have found just the right balance of case studies.
Given all this, I highly recommend this book to parents who seek practical advice on their multilingual situation, who need guidance through rough times, or simply seek an excellent source on further resources.
If you would like more advice on multilingual literacies, we recommend the following book.
Multilingual Literacies: Reading and Writing Different Worlds (Pragmatics & Beyond New)
The research in this collection lies at the interface between the fields of bilingualism and literacy. It is intended to deepen understanding of the significance of reading and writing as social practices and opens lines of inquiry for research on multilingualism. The authors incorporate theoretical and methodological insights from both fields and provide accounts of everyday practices of reading and writing in different multilingual settings. The focus is primarily on linguistic minority groups in Britain and on the language and literacy experiences of children and adults in rural and urban communities. Together, the chapters build up a picture of specific ways in which literacy is bound up with cultural practices and with different way s of seeing the world. They also address fundamental questions about the relationship between language, literacy and power in multi-ethnic contexts.