Tuesday, 1 May 2012

The Bilingual Family: A Handbook for Parents: A Review

I wanted to do more research into bringing up a child bilingually and after reading the reviews of books about bilingualism on Amazon, I wasn´t really persuaded into purchasing any particular books. I had the brainwave of seeing if my local library stocked any books about bilingualism, which it surprizingly did, so I borrowed The Bilingual Family: A Handbook For Parents by Edith Harding-Esch and Philip Riley(2nd edition).However, this meant the added complication of reading it in Spanish!

Although this book is fairly simple to read, it does read more like a textbook so therefore I found it a bit dry and boring in places. The book gives examples of different types of bilingualism and language acquisition,which although is interesting for me as a teacher, is not really relative or important for me as the mother of a bilingual child.  I was looking for a book that would give me more ideas and suggestions about how to raise a bilingual child not a book that delves more into the linguistic elements of being bilingual.

The best thing about the book is the case studies of various families and the methods they used to bring up their children bilingually and their experiences. The authors also include examples from their own experiences of bringing up children.

I also find this book a little dated as it tries to debunk the myths or preconceptions people had in the past about bilingualism, which I think hardly exist now. It also talks about resources such as sending emails on the Internet and videos but doesn´t mention more modern resources such as iPhones and apps, videocalls on the Internet and YouTube videos, DVD´s, audiobooks etc.

All in all, I have to agree with the more negative reviews of this book on Amazon which you can read here. This book is good if you are interested in bilingualism but is not so useful if are looking for a manuel on how-to approaches of bringing up a child bilingually. I´m glad I did not buy this book and I´d reccomend borrowing it from your local library if you decide you want to read it!


  1. Hi Tracey!
    Thanks for the review.
    Have you tried 7 Steps to Raising a Bilingual Child by Naomi Steiner MD, Susan L. Hayes and Steven Parker M.D? I found that a good one to read before I started, as it helped me get clear on the method(s) I wanted to use.
    Another one I have is Raising a Bilingual Child by Barbara Zurer Pearson. I haven't gotten too far into it (and it's been a long while since I opened it), but I think it was more specific and used a lot of case studies. It also seemed to have something about non-native speakers raising their children with a second language, which is interesting for a lot of us.
    Something to look into!
    Kate :)

  2. Thanks for the reccommendations,Kate! No, I haven´t tried them but will have to see about buying them or borrowing them!