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Raising Multilingual Children: Foreign Language Acquisition and Children (Anglais) Relié – 30 octobre 2000


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Before my first child was born I searched the local bookstores, picked the brains of friends with bilingual children, and scoured many a university library for information about raising children in a multilingual environment. Lire la première page
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Couverture | Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait | Index | Quatrième de couverture
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73 internautes sur 85 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Scientific Mishmash 17 mars 2002
Par J. Larson-Hall - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
I am a parent raising my child bilingually (in a non-native language) as well as an applied linguist doing research in the area of bilingualism by reading various academic as well as more practical books about bilingualism. I picked up this new book, excited about its seemingly up-to-date information (because of the recent publication date). I was a bit put off by the cooking metaphor carried throughout the book, which seemed a little cutesy, but kept reading excitedly. Before reading this book I had just read a short but very well-done book called "The Bilingual Experience" by Eveline De Jong. I kept comparing this book to that, and it definitely came up short.
The first thing that took me aback was that Tokuhama-Espinosa brags throughout the book how informed she is about various fields of study, such as neuropsychology and linguistics, and that this 'expert' knowledge only took her a year of research to obtain. When I read her summary of work done with phoneme perception in children (p. 20-21) my fear that her grasp of the field would be too superficial was confirmed. This is research I have reviewed in depth, and while Tokuhama-Espinosa did an adequate job of giving a short summary suitable for the layperson, she not only fails but misleads in her *interpretation* of the data. The authors of these studies are careful not to go beyond the results of their data, which is to say that children have a certain period where they can distinguish between any phonemes (meaningful sounds of the language) in any of the world's languages, to a point where, when presented with some difficult sound pairs in various languages, can only distinguish between those phonemes which are found in their native language. Tokuhama-Espinosa, on the other hand, interprets this data to mean that children between zero to nine months have a 'window of opportunity' (her term) to learn a foreign language. According to the author, this is the only time when children can learn to speak a second language without an accent. Such an interpretation is most certainly wrong, since some studies with immigrant children to the US have found that children below 6 years of age when they began learning a second language have been judged to have accent-free speaking ability. The authors of the studies do not make this interpretation of their data, and Tokuhama-Espinosa is misleading her reader to do so.
Next, Tokuhama-Espinosa says there is a special and second window of opportunity from ages 4-7. This seems to imply that if you haven't exposed your child to a second language by 9 months, you might as well not even start until they are 4 years old. Again, this is rubbish! The younger the better for native-like control of a language, and I've never heard of any science which would confirms the author's division of ages here.
The author also glosses over the difficulties of raising children multilingually, and as a previous reviewer says, seems to imagine that everyone has access to international schools and parents who speak another language natively. She seems to have thought of few 'recipes' for raising multilingual children. ...
54 internautes sur 63 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Lacking 26 janvier 2003
Par Gene Zafrin - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
The book exhibits three main themes: success factors in raising multilingual children, the description of real-life families where children were brought up multilingual, and the underlying physiology. The most significant statement the author makes is that about Windows of Opportunity. There are three of those: first 0-9 months, second 4-7 years and third 8 - to the old age. The reasons for these windows' formation comprise physiological (synapse formation), developmental (lack of self-awareness in children) and cultural (start of school). Unfortunately, this theory is not well supported by argument, nor is it well developed. For example, according to it language acquisition levels off between the ages of 9 months and 4 years. So, unless a child is unusually gifted, a 2 or 3 year-old can only expand on the knowledge of a language to which he already was exposed in the first 9 months of life, but can not successfully start learning a new foreign language until they are 4. No evidence is given to support this surprising fact. The boundaries for these windows are selected based on dubious parameters. In case of 9 months of age it is the death of certain neurons that are left "unrehearsed". But neurons die all the time, why is the death of those ones so special? The boundary of 7 years is due to the increased self-consciousness of children that allegedly impedes their free-flowing chatter. But what about other factors contributing to their learning: capacity to concentrate, self-correction etc? Critical analysis of author's own statements certainly is lacking in the book.
The practical aspect of the book is not better developed than the theoretical one. For example, the advice to "read in as many languages as you are proficient in", is seemingly inconsistent with "one parent one language" advice for talking. The book suggests to develop verbal skills in different languages simultaneously, but written skills consecutively (first for one language and then for another). Again, this is largely unsubstantiated, except for the fact that such is the practice in some international schools.
On the positive side, the author does bring home the criteria for the successful multilingual development, such as strategy, consistency and creating opportunity. Unfortunately, most of the time this criteria is self-evident. If my child is learning a foreign language creating opportunities for practice is a pretty obvious idea to me.
Overall, the book might prove useful for someone who has never been exposed to the idea of multilingual education. But since the book's statements are not well developed I would not recommend the book.
21 internautes sur 23 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Multilingual is not for avg. family striving for bilingual 7 juin 2003
Par nkomitsky - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
This book gives great insight to the world of language acquisition from many perspectives with supporting evidence. However, aside from the basic description of the ingredients for success and discussion thereof, it is not extremely useful for a family who wants to achieve bilingual fluency alone. It is a well-written, well-researched autobiography of a highly educated family who has become multilingual as a chosen (but essential) skill for their diplomatic lifestyle. It is loaded with brief case studies that are not very relevant to the average American family trying to promote bilingual fluency.
Again, fantastic resource and an easy read if becoming a multi-lingual family is your goal, but if you are looking for a "nuts and bolts how to manual" for bilingual fluency, this falls short (as do many others).
15 internautes sur 17 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
THE ANSWER TO MANY QUESTIONS! 19 novembre 2000
Par Lisa Cirieco - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Have you been searching for a comprehensive guide to raising children in a multilingual (or multicultural) environment? Look no further. I am an American mother of two small children, whose father is Italian, and we are living in French-speaking Switzerland. I have seached high and low for a book on how to raise my children with these 3 languages, but they are often written for scientists and doctors, whereas RAISING MULTILINGUAL CHILDREN is written by an educated mother in such a way that I can follow it easily, with interest, and find that at the same time am educating myself!
11 internautes sur 12 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Excellent guide for multilingual families! 14 novembre 2006
Par Sophie LaPorte - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
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 can stomach some wit and humor besides, you will find this a rewarding reading experience.
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