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Review of  Bilingualism and Education

Reviewer: Dalia Magana
Book Title: Bilingualism and Education
Book Author: Xoán Paulo Rodríguez-Yáñez Anxo M. Lorenzo Suárez Fernando F. Ramallo
Publisher: Lincom GmbH
Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
Issue Number: 21.2089

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EDITORS: Rodríguez-Yáñez, Xoán Paulo; Lorenzo Suárez, Anxo M.; Ramallo, Fernando
TITLE: Bilingualism and Education
SUBTITLE: From the Family to the School

SERIES TITLE: LINCOM Studies in Language Acquisition 12
YEAR: 2009

Dalia Magaña, Department of Spanish, University of California, Davis


The volume reviewed consists of papers presented at the ''Second University of
Vigo International Symposium on Bilingualism'' held in Vigo (Galicia, Spain) in
October 2002. As the full title, ''Bilingualism and Education: From the Family to
the School,'' suggests, the theme of the book is the role of language in
socialization practices within the home and school contexts. The book consists
of four sections, (Part One) ''An introduction'', (Part Two) ''Bilingual
socialization in the family,'' (Part Three) Plurilingualism in education,'' and
(Part Four) ''Bilingualism and education in contemporary Spain.''

Part One of the book consists of five texts that are considered an introduction
to the entire volume delivered as plenary papers in the symposium. In the first
paper, ''A sociology of bilingualism: From home to school and back again,'' Joshua
A. Fishman discusses the issues regarding bilingualism faced by speakers who are
traditionally considered disadvantaged. In his discussion of a theory of
societal bilingualism, Fishman proposes several basic assumptions. Furthermore,
Fishman points out the interdependence between language and culture in his
argumentation about the struggles faced in multilingual communities. The author
concludes his study by reinforcing the role of scholars in supporting minority
and threatened languages given these languages' lack of social power. Ana Celia
Zentella in ''Conducting language socialization research among U.S. [email protected]
bilinguals: Premises, promises, and pitfalls'' considers the circumstances of
[email protected] in the U.S. with respect to language, culture and education from a
language socialization framework. Zentella contrasts the upbringings of [email protected]
children in the U.S. and their Anglo middle class peers, revealing the
disadvantages [email protected] face in a society that privileges the educationally geared
cultural norms of the Anglo middle class and that fails to consider the cultural
and linguistic diversity [email protected] children experience. The next plenary paper,
''Language socialization of infant bilingual children in the family: Quo vadis?'',
by Elizabeth Lanza concerns the language situation of children developing two
languages simultaneously; i.e. ''family bilingualism.'' In her study, Lanza
examines the interactions between family members within bilingual households
employing a one parent - one language practice. By viewing the family as a
community of practice, Lanza's results reveal that children as well as adults
effect language socialization, societal preservation and social change. In the
article ''The development and consolidation of critical, interpretive approaches
to language in bilingual education practice,'' based on Marilyn Martin-Jones'
plenary, the author explores the methodological shift towards a more
interpretive perspective in research on language practices and literacies. In
her discussion on bilingual education practices and research, the author
examines the potential available to critical approaches in this area of research
such as the possibility of linking home language practices and educational
institutions within a social context. The final plenary paper, ''The future of
languages in a globalized world'' by Miquel Siguan concerns the effects of
technological advances on many of the world's languages. While the author
considers the role of English in our contemporary globalized society, he
proposes that even though English is becoming the global ''lingua franca,'' it
will not necessarily replace other languages given multilingual maintenance
among globalized people.

Part Two of the book, ''Bilingual socialization in the family,'' begins with an
introduction to this section by the section's editor Gabrielle Varro. In
'''Acquired knowledge' and 'burning questions' about family bilingualism: A new
vernacular?'', Varro examines the two predominant types of studies in the area of
language socialization: case studies involving detailed observation of the
linguistic development of a speaker within a bilingual household and group
surveys probing linguistic regularities within groups of speakers. The
introduction also discusses the interconnectedness between family bilingualism
and bilingual socialization, pointing out the false symmetry between family and
school. The author concludes with some of the challenges involving
stigmatization of a language or vernacular register faced by bilingual
communities within mainstream societies. The first study in Part Two, ''Family
languages in France: First results of a demolinguistic survey,'' by Christine
Deprez, analyzes large-scale surveys probing language-related questions in
France that use quantitative research. The author concludes with the importance
of triangulating such methods with qualitative research. Quantitative methods
are also employed in ''Multilingualism in Finland: Past and present'' by Sirkku
Latomaa, which examines language-related statistics in Finland focusing on the
vitality concerns of new minority languages within this country.

The remaining studies in Part Two employ qualitative approaches, including
ethnographic case studies and discourse analysis. In her qualitative study,
“Interaction and argumentative strategies in the family, as mediated by
Italian-French bilingualism,” Silvia Romeo explores discourse strategies,
argumentative strategies, bilingual children’s input, and sibling interaction,
among other topics and finds intriguing connections between these topics.
''Bilinguality and the inter-generational transmission of languages'' by Héléna
Correira Labaye ethnographically studies language transmission among three
Portuguese families living in France and the effect of language transmission in
social mobility. Maria-Jose Azurmendi and Maria-Llanos Luque address the
language situations of preschool children within a Basque community in ''Early
acquisition-learning of Euskara (at age 2-4) and interdependence between general
psychological development, family and school.'' In both ''The bilingual
socialization of Roma children in Bulgaria'' by Hristo Kyuchukov and ''The use of
Romani in Roma households'' by Dieter W. Halwachs, the focus of discussion is on
the challenges faced among Roma speakers of Romani. While the first study
concentrates on the literacy development of children in a bilingual context, the
latter study overviews the heterogeneous situations of Roma speakers and their
languages. The final study in the second section, ''Bilingual language
socialization in the family: What teachers should know'' by Christine Hélot
concerns the present disconnections between home practices with respect to
languages and language use in school. She particularly addresses the need for
educators to understand bilingual socialization and the linguistic complexities
involved in bilingualism such as code-switching.

Part Three of the book, ''Plurilingualism in Education'', edited by F. Xavier Vila
i Moreno, is subdivided into three sections according to the perspective of the
studies with respect to plurilingualism. In the introductory portion of Part
Three, the editor provides a condensed summary of the studies found in each
section. Section I, ''Innovative models of plurilingual education'', consists of
three papers addressing possible models of bilingual education to support
minority students. The first paper, ''Bilingual schooling in post-apartheid South
Africa'' by Peter Plüddemann evaluates the new and old policies in plurilingual
education in the South African context. The author suggests the need for
bilingual education based on home languages to realize the validation of African
languages. In the next paper, ''Language contacts in deaf bilingualism:
Psycholinguistic and pedagogical aspects'', Carolina Plaza Pust provides an
overview of the language situation of deaf bilingualism in Europe. Within a
psycholinguistic perspective, the author discusses the human linguistic ability
in language contact situations including deaf bilingualism, proposing
educational modifications that will promote bilingualism. The final paper in
section I, part Three, ''Two-Way Immersion education: An integrated approach to
bilingual education in the United States,'' by Elizabeth R. Howard reviews the
criteria for success in Two-Way Immersion education, discussing the possible
advantages of the implementation of such plurilingual education.

Part Three, Section II, ''Plurilingual education for maintenance and enrichment,''
consists of five papers all promoting multilingualism from differing
perspectives and contexts. The first two studies in this section, ''The
sociolinguistic context of bilingual education in France today'' by Christine
Hélot and ''Bilingual education in Alsace'' by Roland Willemyns and Helga
Bister-Broosen, concern the multilingual situation in France with respect to the
educational system. In the former, Hélot discusses promising changes concerning
multilingual education, yet reveals the support needed for multilingual and
multicultural children, particularly for linguistic minority speakers. In the
second study, the authors provide an overview of the present linguistic systems
in Alsace revealing the need for Alsatian dialect support. In ''Language
practices in bilingual schools: Some observed, quantitative data from Catalonia''
F. Xavier Vila i Moreno, Santi Vial i Rius and Mireia Galindo examine the
language shift favoring Castilian occurring among the youth in Catalonia due to
political, economic, and sociodemographic reasons and offer a suggestion for
reversing this language shift. A perceived change with respect to bilingualism
in Ireland is discussed in ''An overview of bilingualism and immersion education
in Ireland: Complexity and change'' by Muiris Ó Laoire. The author argues for
additive bilingualism in educational policy outside of Gaeltacht. The final
study in section II, ''Translating words and identities in the bilingual
classroom'' by Melisa Cahnmann explores the political ideologies of a bilingual
instructor transmitted in her use of languages in a U.S. Spanish-English
multilingual context.

Part Two, Section III, ''Plurilingualism beyond school: Social expectations and
outcomes'' concerns the (dis)connections between educational systems and the
surrounding communities in a range of contexts. The first study in this last
section, ''Parent perceptions of bilingual schooling in developing countries'' by
Carol Benson, addresses the potential parental roles in the educational system
of communities in South America and Africa. These links between the community
and its schools are also addressed in the case study ''The day school and evening
school and the twain shall meet: A case of the Sheffield Multilingual City
Initiative'' by Latita Murty. The final paper in section III, ''Adult literacy in
Irish in the bilingual Gaeltacht region'' by Tadhg Ó hIfearnáin, examines the
literacy situation among Gaeltacht people presenting statistics about language
literacy development and ideologies of these speakers.

Part Four of the volume, ''Bilingualism and education in contemporary Spain,''
consists of ten studies concerning the role of languages in several school
systems in Spain. The editor of this final part, Ángel Huguet Canalis, begins by
introducing an overview of Spain's bilingual education in the preface
''Bilingüismo y educación en la España contemporánea.'' The first paper,
''Actualidad y perspectivas de la educación bilingüe en el Estado español'' by
Ignasi Vila, addresses the various models of bilingual education present in
Spain's State autonomic organization. Additionally, although the author reveals
growing support for bilingual education, he also describes several challenges to
be faced in its multilingual reality. While this first study concerns the
bilingual situation in Spain from a broad perspective, the remaining studies are
more language and region specific. For example, the next three studies in the
volume (''A lingua galega no sistema educativo de Galicia'' by Bieito Silva
Valdivia, ''Lengua y vitalidad etnolingüística en Galicia'' by José Romay Martínez
and Susana Iglesias Antelo, and ''A pervivencia de ideoloxías e prácticas
monolingües en sociadades bilingües: o caso galego'' by Ana Iglesias Álvarez)
address specific linguistic situations prevalent in Galicia's educational
systems and communities. In the first, Silva Valdiviana presents a historical
and contemporary overview of Galicia's bilingual educational approach concluding
with some of the prevailing challenges. Romay Martínez and Iglesias Antelo
examine the characteristic profiles of Castilian and Galician speakers in
Galicia, revealing the growing number of Galician speaking bilinguals due to
political, social and economic factors. Lastly, within the Galician context,
Iglesias Álvarez addresses some hierarchical linguistic ideologies concerning
aspects of multilingualism. With respect to the context of Asturias, Xosé Antón
González Riaño presents some language related statistics supporting the
significance of Asturian as an official language in ''El tratamiento de las
lenguas en Asturias.'' Within the Aragón geographic region, Ángel Huguet Canalis
and Conxita Vendrell Serés in ''El tratamiento de las lenguas Aragón'' discuss the
geographic language distribution surrounding Aragón, revealing its minority
status. ''El tratamiento de las lenguas en Euskadi,'' by José Mª Madariaga Orbea,
evaluates the historic and contemporary situation of the school languages
present in the geographical region of Euskadi. Within the Catalonia context,
Josep M. Serra Bonet reviews statistical facts relevant to the Catalan schooling
in ''El tratamiento de las lenguas en Catalunya.'' The sociolinguistic situation
in Navarra is analyzed at various educational levels in ''El tratamiento de las
lenguas en Navarra'' by Pablo Sotés and Nekane Oroz. Lastly, Jordi Suïls Subirà
and Ángel Huguet Canalis discuss the educational model in Aragon, exploring the
topic of diverse linguistic competence in ''Tres lenguas oficiales para una
escuela: El modelo aranés.''


The volume ''Bilingualism and Education: From the Family to the School''
predominantly concerns the connections between home and school languages and
cultures. These welcome studies have a foundation in approaching the language
situation of speakers from contextualized perspectives.

In its entirety, the volume offers numerous original contributions concerning
the multilingual realities within several geographical contexts. A progressive
trend brought to light in the volume is the concern for minority languages
revealed in the thorough research on these languages and the proposals for
language maintenance.

The volume is neatly divided into four main parts with an introduction for each
part; however a minor organizational inconsistency is present within these
introductions since for example three of these four introductions provide a
general preface broadly concerning the part’s topic while one provides an
informative summary of the studies in the part.

An additional minor flaw concerns the perceived content of the volume. The
titles found in the book and its sections may seem appealing to educators given
the recurrent word ''education'' found in these titles; however, few papers in the
book truly offer practical pedagogical implications.

Comprehensively, the papers provide enriching findings for the field of
multilingual education that will undoubtedly afford researchers and students in
the area original insights evoking additional future dialogue and research.

Dalia Magaña is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Spanish at University of California, Davis. Her research interests include sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, and heritage language pedagogy.