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Review of  Escenarios Bilingües

Reviewer: Whitney Chappell
Book Title: Escenarios Bilingües
Book Author: Christián Abelló Contesse Christoph Ehlers Lucía Quintana Hernández
Publisher: Peter Lang AG
Linguistic Field(s): Psycholinguistics
Language Acquisition
Subject Language(s): Arabic, Standard
Issue Number: 22.2029

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EDITORS: Cristián Abelló Contesse, Christoph Ehlers, Lucía Quintana Hernández
TITLE: Escenarios bilingües
SUBTITLE: El contacto de lenguas en el individuo y la sociedad
YEAR: 2010

Whitney Chappell, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, The Ohio State University


''Escenarios bilingües'' is a collection of studies on bilingualism, divided into
two main parts: Part I, ''Bilingüismo en el aula'' ('Bilingualism in the
classroom'), includes papers examining bilingualism in institutional L2
settings, while Part II, ''Bilingüismo social e individual'' ('Social and
individual bilingualism'), discusses languages in contact both in the mind and
in society.

In their introduction, Abelló Contesse and Ehlers present and define the key
concepts at play in bilingualism studies, some of which have been controversial
since the work of Bloomfield (1935) and Haugen (1953). For example, 14 types of
bilingualism are explained (e.g. functional bilingualism, incipient
bilingualism, asymmetric bilingualism, and active vs. passive bilingualism,
among others), and the different fields that focus on bilingualism are
introduced, (e.g. SLA, bilingualism and multilingualism, and first language
acquisition or second language acquisition), along with a discussion of their
divergent aims. The authors then discuss terminological issues, raising
questions about the appropriateness and accuracy of the terms used. For example,
the authors present the terminology of the past (e.g. interference or negative
transfer), and then provide the newer forms intended to eliminate the negative
connotations associated with the previous terms (e.g. interlinguistic influence).

In addition to providing definitions and a discussion of terminology, the
authors present challenging and controversial issues within bilingualism
studies. Perhaps most crucially, the problematic concepts of the idealized
monolingual native speaker and the bilingual speaker equally competent in both
languages are analyzed, and the authors argue that many of the comparisons made
between monolinguals and bilinguals in the present literature are unfair, as
both the experiences and minds of the two groups are different.

The first part of the book consists of the following four chapters:

In Chapter 1, ''Educación lingüística, práctica educativa y organización escolar
en Cataluña'' ('Linguistic education, educational practice and school
organization in Catalonia'), by Ignasi Vila, the author describes the practices
and policies of bilingual education in Catalonia throughout the past few
decades. Impressive results in bilingual education have been achieved over the
past 25 years, but Vila argues that the system is in need of a change based on
the increasingly diverse demographics in Catalonia: approximately 12% of current
students are of foreign origin and that number could surpass 20%. Vila argues in
favor of instructors' individualized educational policy with the students'
cooperation as well: instead of minimizing the linguistic diversity of the
students, those who speak neither Spanish nor Catalan at home should be provided
with more support and more opportunities to personally negotiate what is done
and said in their curriculum.

Chapter 2, ''Nuevas tecnologías en el aula plurilingüe'' ('New technologies in the
multilingual classroom'), by Marta González-Lloret, expounds upon the value of
technology in the SLA, bilingual or multilingual classroom. Virtual environments
and synthetic immersive environments, for example, allow the students to
actively participate in a way that might otherwise be impossible, thus
increasing student-centered collaboration and heightening students' motivation
levels. Forums, bulletins, blogs, wikis, and webquests are fast, free, highly
interactive and flexible for use in the classroom. Preparing students for
technological literacy in an increasingly technological age, González-Lloret
argues for collaborative, experiential and student-centered learning in the
technological realm.

The third chapter, Marta Baralo and Sheila Estaire's, ''Tendencias metodológicas
postcomunicativas'' ('Methodological postcommunicative tendencies'), has two
major aims: firstly, to present the latest, or ''postcommunicative'',
accomplishments within the field of second (or foreign) language studies, and
secondly, to present and analyze new methodological models for use within the
classroom. Emphasizing a communicative approach that focuses on functional
competence in real, concrete interpersonal interactions, Baralo and Estaire
explain the benefits of diversity across classrooms with varied goals,
structures, methodologies and curricular designs, allowing for a great degree of
flexibility and integration within the language-learning classroom. The authors
call for teachers to reflect upon the many teaching tools available and the most
effective educational contexts, based on the students' individual needs and

''El reto de la enseñanza bilingüe para el profesorado del nuevo milenio'' ('The
challenge of bilingual education for the teachers of the new millennium'), by
Sonia Casal Madinabeitia, (Chapter 4) addresses the teaching and learning
processes for foreign language learners, stressing the importance of the
instructor and the long-term impact teachers have on their pupils. Casal
Madinabeitia argues that students should be active participants in the learning
process, and teachers should always be aware of their influence, more
specifically the emotional and volitional importance of their expectations over
students. Instructors should provide warmth and moral support in the classroom,
which can lead to greater student success in the learning environment.

The second part of the book features these chapters:

''La percepción del habla en el bebé de entorno bilingüe'' ('The baby's perception
of speech in a bilingual environment'), by Ferran Pons, Bàrbara
Albareda-Castellot and Nuria Sebastián-Gallés (Chapter 5), discusses preverbal
infants growing up in bilingual households. In three main sections (language
discrimination, the construction of phonetic categories and the recognition and
learning of words) the authors present the latest experimental findings on
monolingual and bilingual infants' perception of speech. The authors find that
both in preverbal stages and early stages of language acquisition and separation
of the two acquired L1s, there are as many similarities as differences. In spite
of the differences (e.g. phonetic perception), overall, bilingual children show
the same pattern of acquisition as monolingual children.

In Chapter 6, ''El bilingüismo familiar no convencional y el papel dependiente
del enfoque UPUL'' ('Unconventional family bilingualism and the dependent role of
the UPUL approach'), Christián Abelló Contesse examines a case study of 'una
persona-una lengua' ('one person-one language') in his family over the course of
eight years. While the parents share the same L1 (Spanish), the father has opted
to use English, a second language, in daily interactions with the child, which
is a trend that Abelló Contesse claims is gaining popularity in the formation of
bilingual families. This chapter describes the seven personal variables'
transformation throughout the course of the study (the child's age, attitude,
metalinguistic awareness, knowledge and use of another L2 as well as the
parents' choice of an interactive focus, linguistic ideologies, and strategic
planning), concluding that while this particular case of UPUL was successful,
positive attitudes, ideologies and planning were crucial to the child's
linguistic progress.

Chapter 7, ''Características del bilingüismo español-árabe dariya en Ceuta''
('Characteristics of Spanish-Arabic Darija bilingualism in Ceuta'), by Verónica
Rivera Reyes, describes the characteristics of bilingual Spanish-Darija speakers
in Ceuta on the Gibraltar Strait. Rivera focuses on the linguistic features of
bilingual speakers in this multilingual setting and the types of bilingualism
found in Ceuta. She also presents the results of a survey that suggest speakers'
language attitudes and self-esteem, particularly the linguistic insecurity of
many Darija-speaking Muslims about possessing both poor Arabic and poor Spanish
skills, affect the bilingual situation in Ceuta.

Christoph Ehlers' ''Las influencias interlingüísticas ¿Creación o contaminación?''
('Interlinguistic influences: Creation or contamination?') (Chapter 8) addresses
the history of interlinguistic influence. Originally believed to be a ''bad
habit'' that had to be eradicated from speech, a more realistic view of the
negotiation between a previous and a new linguistic system as well as the
acceptance of the L2 speaker as having previous knowledge at the time of foreign
language learning has become the norm. On a theoretical note, Ehlers proposes
that the human language faculty is not only responsible for linguistic evolution
but also the interlanguage of L2 speakers, thus creating a bridge between the
evolution of language over time and the acquisition of foreign languages.


The compilation of scholarly work in ''Escenarios bilingües'' paints a broad
picture of bilingualism in the classroom, the individual and society by
illustrating the variation and expansiveness of current bilingualism studies.
With the insight of twelve different scholars, this book sheds light on the
diverse and complicated pedagogical, societal and theoretical concerns at the
forefront of current bilingualism research.

Abelló Contesse and Ehlers' introduction provides a much-needed prologue to the
eight chapters that follow it. The thoroughness of their definitions and
discussion of the many issues associated with the idealized concepts in
bilingualism studies alert the reader to potential pitfalls and problematic
theoretical notions before investigating the chapters on a case-by-case basis.

Part I (''Bilingüismo en el aula'') presents a coherent, cohesive view of
bilingualism in the classroom. The chapters discuss ways to directly benefit the
bilingual student, such as avant-garde teaching strategies and curricular
suggestions, analyses of the successes and challenges of current bilingual
education systems, and the crucial roles played by both the teacher and student
in the bilingual classroom. These chapters work together to elucidate the
current concerns of classroom bilingualism, approaching the same concept from
different angles.

Part II (''Bilingüismo social e individual'') offers an interesting glimpse of
bilingualism in the individual and the world, covering topics as diverse as
bilingual development in babies and children, a bilingual community in Ceuta,
and the theoretical implications of bilingualism. The goals of the second part
of ''Escenarios bilingües'' are considerably more extensive, and consequently the
fusion of the chapters is less cohesive than the first section of the book. This
section's far-reaching aims could be viewed as both advantageous and
disadvantageous: on the one hand, a much broader picture of bilingualism is
painted for the reader, covering four important themes in four different
chapters. On the other hand, the power of this section's breadth comes at the
detriment of its depth, somewhat cursorily discussing the topics raised in each
chapter. However, for a concise overview of some of the important areas of
bilingualism studies and varied methodological and theoretical perspectives from
experts within the field, this section provides a fascinating point of departure.

Overall, ''Escenarios bilingües'' fills a void in the Spanish linguistics
literature by providing an account of the most up-to-date bilingualism studies
that are both accessible to the reader and ambitious in their breadth. This
edited volume serves as a valuable resource for researchers, teachers and
students of bilingualism and foreign languages alike.


Bloomfield, Leonard. 1935. Language. London: Allen and Unwin.

Haugen, Einar. 1953. The Norwegian Language in America: A Study in Bilingual
Behavior. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Whitney Chappell is a Graduate Fellow in Hispanic Linguistics at The Ohio State University specializing in Spanish sociolinguistics and the intonation-pragmatic interface. Scheduled to graduate with her PhD in 2013, her current projects include a Sp_ToBI analysis of the relationship between nuclear configurations and pragmatic meaning in the intonation of Granada, Nicaragua and a language attitude study on the Miskitu Amerindians on the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua and Honduras.

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