Search form

Three Books for Parents Interested in Bilingualism

Date Posted:  Friday, October 18, 2019

Are you interested in bilingualism for your child? Are you bilingual yourself? Learn more about what it means to speak two or more languages, what happens in the brain, what's the best age to learn another language and other common questions in these three books (two in English, and one in French).

Bilingual: Life and reality, by François Grosjean. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press 

François Grosjean, is a Professor Emeritus and former Director of the Language and Speech Processing Laboratory at the University of Neuchâtel (Switzerland). He started his academic career in France (University of Paris 8) and then left for the USA where he taught and did research in psycholinguistics. He is the author of many books and papers published in distinguished magazines.

“Whether in family life, social interactions or business negotiations, half the people in the world speak more than one language every day. Yet many myths persist about bilingualism and bilinguals. Does being bilingual mean you are equally fluent in two languages, or that you belong to two cultures, or even that you have multiple personalities? Can you become bilingual only as a child? Why do bilinguals switch from one language to another in mid-sentence? Will raising bilingual children confuse and delay their learning of any language?” 

Here François Grosjean answers all those questions, explores the many facets of life with two or more languages, and demystifies bilingualism. He describes the various strategies—some useful, some not—used by parents raising bilingual children, explains how children easily pick up and forget languages, and considers how bilingualism affects the experience and expression of emotions, thoughts, and dreams. 


Parler plusieurs langues: Le Monde des bilingues, by Francois Grosjean

If you want to know more about multilingualism in French, you can consider reading another book from François Grosjean: Parler plusieurs langues. Le monde des bilingues (Paris, Albin Michel, 2015).

Dans cet ouvrage, vous trouverez des réponses claires et documentées aux questions qu’on se pose en France à propos du bilinguisme, phénomène encore trop mal connu en raison de la mauvaise réputation dont il a longtemps fait l’objet.

Les réponses que François Grosjean apporte sont issues de multiples recherches universitaires et des ses expériences personnelles, non seulement d'individu bilingue, mais aussi de parent d’enfants bilingues et de chercheurs ayant travaillé dans de nombreux pays. L’ouvrage, de 200 pages environ, est construit en quatre grandes parties : « Le monde bilingue », « Les caractéristiques du bilinguisme », « Le devenir bilingue », « Autres dimensions du bilinguisme ».


A Parents’ and Teachers’ Guide to Bilingualism, by Colin Baker (2014) 4th Edition. Multilingual Matters. Bristol, UK.

Colin Baker is Emeritus Professor of Education at Bangor University, Wales, UK. He has three bilingual children and has given talks for over 20 years to parents and teachers on bilingualism. He is the author of 20 books and over 140 articles mostly on bilingualism, with specific interests in language planning and bilingual education. His many publications on bilingualism include 'Parents and Teachers Guide to Bilingualism', first published in 1995 with further editions in 2000, 2007 and 2014. The book is the world's best-selling guide for parents and teachers in raising and developing bilingual children. It has been published in Swedish, Estonian, Spanish, Turkish, German, Mandarin Chinese and Korean.

This book is an excellent and accessible sum on bilingualism where Pr. Colin Baker delivers a realistic picture of the joys and difficulties of raising bilingual children. The Q&A format of this book makes it an easy reference guide to the most frequently asked questions about bilingualism. 


Finally, please explore the article written by Dr. Mehdi Lazar, The Bilingual Advantage in the Global Workplace (published in June 2018 in Language Magazine). In this article Mehdi identifies four traits that give bilinguals a competitive edge in our global world.