Saturday, 31 December 2011

Starting out & Background Reading about Bilingualism

I´m British living in Spain in a small city in Central Spain with hardly any foreigners and am married to a Spanish native and I´ve recently had my first child. I started this blog in order to account my experiences and pass on any advice I have about bringing up children bilingually.

When I first found out I was pregnant, I decided to read up about Bilingualism and I bought the following book: Growing Up With Two Languages: A Practical Guide by Una Cunningham-Andersson and Staffan Andersson. This is a guide which discusses aspects of children growing up with two languages and insights and advice from bilingual families.I found this book a very interesting and helpful read in finding out more about bringing up children bilingually and it is a good place to start in order to discover more about bilingualism and would definitely reccommend it. However, I was hoping to come across a book which told you exactly how you should go about bringing up a child bilingually but of course I don´t think such a book exists and probably never will as every child and every family is different! What might work for some children or families, might not work for others! I have looked for other books about Bilingualism but after reading the reviews on Amazon, nothing seems to fit what I´m looking for. They all appear to be too academic or heavy whereas Growing Up With Two Languages is an interesting but at the same time a light and easy read. If anyone could reccommend any other books about bilingualism, I´d be grateful!

Growing Up With Two Languages explains the two methods of bringing up children bilingually more in-depth . There is the One Parent, One Language method and the One Language, One Location method. The OPOL method is based on each parent speaking his/her native tongue to their child as this is more normal i.e. when you want to scold a child,praise, sing songs, it is often easier to express yourself in your native toungue than in your second language. Plus in this way the child hears the correct grammar and pronunciation in each language rather than picking up grammar or pronunciation errors that parents might make in their second language. My husband and I have opted to follow the OPOL method although as Spanish will be the majority language, I´m a little worried that the minority language, English, will not develop as much as I´d like, seeing as I´m going to be mainly the only one speaking it to my daughter!

Growing Up With Two Languages also has a section of useful websites where you can find more information about bilingualism. I haven´t checked all of these resources out so far, which I should have done, but will be looking at them and talking about them on this blog. I did find a group Bilingual Families in Spain which I joined and which also has a Facebook page, however the site wasn´t as helpful as I´d hoped and now I don´t know if the site only exists as the Facebook site. It was helpful though in that it listed all the International Schools and English schools in Madrid, Seville and Barcelona but as I don´t live in any of these cities, it wasn´t very useful for me!

Another group I found, which is very useful, is the Multilingual/International Families group on as you can ask members of the group about any doubts you have about various issues involving bilingualism and living with two cultures etc and they will give you advice based on their experience.

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