Building Your Bilingualism Library

One of the points I bring up in all my seminars is that parents who are raising bilingual children need to learn the theory behind the process. The reasons for this are varied, but overall, I believe that parents have a better chance creating a smooth road to bilingualism if they understand the factors that influence successful bilingualism.
On that note, I am going to recommend some of my favourite books. My personal bilingualism library runs to over 50 titles. Parents don’t need all of those, of course, but they do need more than one. Which books they need depend to some extent on the bilingual model they are using.
However, there is one book that I think is an essential in any parent’s library. Colin Baker’s “A Parents’ and Teachers’ Guide to Bilingualism” is that rare book that is both heavily theoretical and completely accessible. It is written in an easy to use question-answer format, and you just look up your question in the index, and then go to the 1-2 page answer. Baker covers just about all the topics you might have questions about, from family language use to literacy to language refusal. None of the answers are very in-depth, but they are all a good start. Baker is one of the most prominent researchers in the field, and every answer in the book is based on the best research available. In addition, there are plenty of references for further research/reading for people who are interested in learning more. Another strong point is that the readability and concise nature of the sections mean it is also accessible to speakers of other languages than English.
So if you only get one book, this is the book to get.
Happily for me, next week I am going to Wales, to the Bilingualism Summer School at the University of Bangor, which is the home institute of Colin Baker. If I’m really lucky, maybe I can get him to sign my copy…

3 thoughts on “Building Your Bilingualism Library

  1. Olga says:

    I have read Colin Baker’s book, and I found it extremely informative, well-written, and helpful. It answered many of my questions.However, I have a question, and maybe you could help. While there are many good books on bilingualism, books on multilingualism are much harder to find. I have found Tracey Tokuhama-Espinosa’s book: “Multilingualism across the Lifespan”, but it is not perfect, and leaves many questions open. Are there any books that cover multilingualism in more than just one chapter? I would be grateful for your answer.

    • eacrisfield says:

      Off the top of my head, these are two good titles:
      Learning to Read and Write in the Multilingual Family (Wang, X.-l.)
      Learning to be Literate: Multilingual perspectives. (Edwards, V)

      These are obviously both about multi-literacies, but they are good, informative books.
      I’ll have a look through my collection when I have a minute (not until after next week) and see if there is anything else that looks like it could be useful to you.

      • Olga says:

        Thank you for your answer. I have checked both books, and they are available on Amazon, so I think I’m going to order them. I will be very happy if you can look through your library when you have the time, but this can wait. Thank you for your help!


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