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Book Review: The Bilingual Edge

The Bilingual Edge

Why, When, and How to
Teach Your Child Second Language

by Kendall King and Alison Mackey

These days there is a great deal of interest in raising children with bilingual skill. "The Bilingual Edge" is a great resource for parents who want to give their children the gift of bilingualism and to prepare them for the ever more connected world of the future.

The two authors are professor of linguistics specialize in second language learning. They give the book a scientific favor and much of the materials are backed by research data. Nevertheless it is written in everyday language and is not at all academic. Moreover the authors are parents themselves. They are walking their talk by raising their kids bilingually. Despite their credentials, they face many of the same parenting and social issues like we do and they also share their struggles in the book.

Just why do we want our children to become bilingual? Contrary to conventional thinking, learning a second language does not compete with the mother tongue. People who are good in a second language are actually more likely to be good in their first language. Besides the inherent advantage of speaking more than one language, studies have also shown that there is cognitive, academic and social edge in bilingual kids. In short, it makes you children smarter. I think this is more than enough motivation for most parents to consider bilingualism.

Some families are naturally more concern about bilingualism because they have emigrated to another country or they are bilingual themselves. But the authors make it clear that raising bilingual kids are not restricted to them. Indeed it is very much attainable for monolingual parents too. They guide the readers in choosing a second language by understanding the language strength in themselves, their family members and the resources available in their community.

I find their scientific approach especially relevant when dealing with the myriad of learning products being pushed to the parents. Just consider if there is any research to back the claim they make in the advertisements? Is it the product really more effective compares with other approaches, such as simply reading and talking to your children? The authors are skeptical about the claim of some popular products like Baby Einstein. Yet their opinions are actually nuanced. For example, they suggest you to watch the video with you children so that you can guide them, thereby turning a passive activity into an active learning process!

All in all this is a short and well researched book. It should answer many questions regarding learning a second language and help prepare our children into the amazing world of language learning.

2008.07.24 [, ] - comments

 

Abandoned Planet Closing

I was walking by Valencia Street this afternoon and I've decided to check out Abandoned Planet, a small second hand bookstore. It has been a while since I have been there and I was wondering if it is still around. Independent bookstores are facing a lot of difficulties these days. Naturally I have concern about it.

It turned out the bookstore is still open, but only for a few more weeks. It is running a closing sale right now. A few weeks from now it is going to close for good, to meet the same fate like so many other small bookstores.

Over the years I have purchased a few books from them. The first one is Carlos Fuentes' Orange Tree. It was only a random purchase and a great find for me. Carlos Fuentes' imaginative depiction of the conquest of Mexico still intrigues me.

For me this Valencia Street corner is one of the defining San Francisco experience. When I first come to the city, I was enchanted by this neighborhood with great food and all kinds of cultural destinations, all within close proximity. I realize the economy is always hard on these small businesses. The Roxie Cinema around the corner is another long time institution those end I fear is not far. Business do come and go. But Valencia Street without Abandoned Planet or Roxie is probably not going to be the same. I am going to miss it.

2008.07.12 comments

 

《信報》網上版出爐

Hong Kong Economic Journal

Hong Kong Economic Journal has launched their online edition at last! HKEJ is by far the best Chinese newspaper. Finally I can access their articles from US. They must have been spending a lot of time trying to figure out a business model to sustain the web edition and at the same time maintain the business of the traditional paper. It is on their 35th anniversary, under the diminishing business climate for tradition newspaper that they finally tread into online world.

Like most Hong Kong newspaper's website, they charge a subscription fee. The annual rate is just HKD398 right now, which I paid without second thought. They website is clean and quite well organized. This is a rather great contrast to other Chinese website, which tend to have dense clutter of materials and flashy graphics. It seems they are able to carry over the same clean design of the paper edition into the web. There are forum for users to comment on articles. The volume of comment is modest so far. I have high hope that eventually they can tend the forums into lively and high quality conversations. Another curious thing is that there are only very very few advertisements. I hope this is because the website is new and not because of lack of interest from advertisers.

All in all I am very excited about this. I hope the Hong Kong Economic Journal will continue to flourish both online and offline.

2008.07.03 comments

 

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