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If you only buy one book about bilingualism… (A Parents’ and Teachers’ Guide to Bilingualism)

Written by Eowyn Crisfield.

I actually say that every time I do a seminar on raising bilingual children. I take my copy, and I show it around, and tell the parents that *this* is the book to buy. So what is so great about this book already (it’s been top of my recommended resources list since I started) and what makes the new edition even better?

The book is for parents and teachers who are bilinguals themselves, for parents and teachers who are monolingual, and for other professionals such as doctors, speech therapists, practicing psychologists, counsellors, and teachers who want to know more. xvii

Really, it is for *everyone* who is interested and needs to know about bilingualism. It isn’t a niche book. It doesn’t speak only to parents or to academics, like so many books. It is accessible enough for the lay-person to find it easy and enjoyable and thorough and research-based enough for the professional to treat the ideas within it with respect. Colin Baker not only knows about bilingualism, he also knows how to talk about it so others can understand it.

One of the great things about this book is the format. It’s a question-and-answer format, divided into themed sections. So if you have a question or concern, you can look it up in the index and be directed to a 1-2 page answer to that specific question. This also makes it easy to share a page or two with a friend, teacher, doctor… who may be giving you poor advice! However, if you want the whole picture, you can get this from reading the sections together as a “chapter”. For example, you can read the whole section on “Language Development Questions” to get a good overview of bilingual language development. Or, you can dip in to just one question, if, for example, you are concerned about whether one person should speak more than one language with your child (B15 – Should my child use two languages with the same person?).
So, whether you use it as a “textbook” or to answer the questions that inevitably crop up on the journey to bilingualism, this book will help you along the way.

The fourth edition has some interesting additions that reflect how the bilingual community is changing. New sections include questions about IT and the Internet, Translanguaging, International Education, Adoption and many others that further refine areas dealing with language input patterns, and areas of difficulty. These additional sections serve to widen the knowledge base presented in the book and respond to new developments in the bilingual child paradigm and new research in the field.

And so, A Parents’ and Teachers’ Guide to Bilingualism will remain in my top resources list, with the new 4th edition cementing its place as “Most Valuable Book”.

Below is a clickable link (cheer for my technical progress!) to the book on Amazon.

(NB: I was asked to review the book but do not profit in any way financially from either the review or the sales from this link.)

The One Book

InTouch would like to introduce Eowyn Crisfield to you. Eowyn has agreed to contribute to our website as a bilingual expert:.

Eowyn Crisfield is a Canadian-educated expert in teaching English as a second/foreign language, teacher-training and bilingualism, with a BA in TESL/TEFL and an MA in Applied Linguistics from Concordia University. Over the last 20 years she has lived and worked in Canada, France, the US and the Netherlands. Since 2003, she has specialised in the area of parent and teacher education for bilingualism.

Eowyn is a strong supporter of early bilingualism, and believes that all parents, especially expats, should understand the advantages of bilingualism and best practice for raising bilingual children. For parents who move abroad, or who move often, it is important to understand the linguistic and social consequences of the language choices we make for our children.  With this mandate in mind, Eowyn works with parents one-on-one to put together a strategy which perfectly applies to their specific circumstances, and she also gives regular informational talks on raising bilingual children. Eowyn has innovated a family-language planning system that helps families plan for successful bilingualism for their children, from birth to university, taking into account a variety of life situations.

In addition, Eowyn works closely with teachers and schools, ensuring that the teachers have the best knowledge and training to integrate non-native speakers into their classrooms and school community. This includes knowledge seminars on the theory of bilingualism, as well as hands-on workshops on EAL in the classroom, from innovative teaching to evaluation. She also works with schools to develop School Language Policies that define the needs and rights of all the students, and follows up with parent education seminars. 

Finally, Eowyn works with multinational companies, ensuring that their expat employees have the information and confidence to make the best educational choices to help their children achieve successful bilingualism wherever the expat life takes them. This includes informational seminars and consultation days, designed to meet the needs of mobile and multilingual families.