LINGUIST List 11.142

Sun Jan 23 2000

TOC: Bilingual Family Newsletter

Editor for this issue: Scott Fults <>


  1. Kathryn King, Bilingual Family Newsletter Vol. 16:4, 1999

Message 1: Bilingual Family Newsletter Vol. 16:4, 1999

Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2000 15:38:26 +0000
From: Kathryn King <>
Subject: Bilingual Family Newsletter Vol. 16:4, 1999

Bilingual Family Newsletter Vol. 16:4, 1999

Domenico Maceri

When we think of bilingualism we initially envision equal ability in
two languages which allows an individual to communicate very well in
both languages and feel equally comfortable in both cultures. That is
not quite true, however. In my entire life of dealing with languages
at the personal and professional level I have only met one person who
gave me the impression of fitting this definition of
bilingualism. Most people who speak two languages are 'stronger' in
one than another. The four skills typically associated with linguistic
fluency - speaking, understanding, reading and writing - are seldom at
the same level. Sometimes one or more of these four skills is totally
lacking. Yet, even if just one of these skills is acquired, it's still
worthwhile. My daughter Lucia is a case in point. Born in the US to a
mother whose native language is English and to a father who spoke
Italian as a child, she has acquired English very well but at the same
time she can also comprehend spoken Italian. She is 'bilingual'
although clearly, because of our particular geographic situation,
English easily became the dominant language for her.


The Benefits of a Less Well Developed Second Language
Colin Baker

For many parents, however caring and careful, the chance of their
children having two well developed languages is not high. Full
bilingualism is not tenable for all parents. The reality for many
parents is that the child will have more experience of one language
rather than the other.

Reviewed by Stephen M. Ryan
Cunningham-Andersson, U. & Andersson, S. (1999) 
Growing Up with Two Languages: A Practical Guide. 
London: Routledge.155 pp. 
ISBN 0-415-21257-X (pbk) price pounds 8.99

Quite simply, this is a book about what it is like to have two
languages in one family, written by people who have done it for people
looking for advice about what it is like. It offers the wisdom of
experience and the reassurance of those who have gone before.

YOU ARE NO FUN - I'll talk to mum instead! 
Laura Sager

Most parents agree that for a successful bilingual upbringing,
parents' consistency in using their language is absolutely
crucial. There must be a need for the child to keep using the minority
language. If the minority language parent responds to both languages,
the child will soon realise that the community language is the more
effective one and consequently stop speaking the other one. ....
If the father is the transmitter of the other language, extra effort
is necessary since he usually spends only the evenings with the child.

NEWS FROM THE USA Rescuing Endangered Languages 
by James Crawford

Americans' paranoia about language diversity has always struck me as
ironic. Why waste time and energy promoting English-only legislation
when other tongues are dying of 'natural' causes? Now more than ever,
the United States deserves its reputation as a graveyard of
This rapid erosion of the language has shocked the Navajo Nation and
its semi-autonomous government into action. Numerous educational
projects are getting under way to reverse the trend.

by Michael Rosanova

In BFN Vol. 16, No. 2, Linda Lloyd from Switzerland recounted the
heroic efforts undertaken by her and her husband, an Irish-English
couple, whose two children were born in Belgium but the family now
lives in Switzerland.
Their older child Stephanie had a history of language development
problems and 'blockage' against French. 'Finally, on the advice of one
psychologist... I started speaking French at home. Within six months,
Stephanie started speaking French. The problem was that, one year
further on, she felt better in French than in English, and has
systematically been reluctant to speak in English ever since.' recounts
Linda Lloyd. Both of her children are 'very hesitant in both languages',
and they 'tend to be denigrated by the teachers for their lack of
ability in expression.'
After fourteen years of experience as the founder of a Montessori
foreign language immersion school and as the parent of two bilingual
children of my own, I can only applaud the Lloyds' perseverance. The
dramatic improvement in Stephanie's French when Mrs Lloyd began to speak
French at home is evidence that in some cases 'artificial bilingualism'
(Mrs Lloyd's native language is not French) is not only permissible but
critically important. By modelling the integration of French and English
in the home, Mrs Lloyd was opening up a path for Stephanie.

Comments on Husband against the minority language (letter in the BFN
Vol. 16:3, 1999).
Anne Price, Corsham, England.

Should I switch my language to support my children ?
by Heidi Sjblom-Zass
Answer by Colin Baker

Prices: A subscription to the Bilingual Family Newsletter costs 10 or

Kathryn King
Multilingual Matters Ltd
Frankfurt Lodge, Clevedon Hall
Victoria Road, Clevedon, North Somerset BS21 7HH, UK
Tel: +44 (0) 1275-876519; Fax: +44 (0) 1275-871673
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