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.