Philip Newton (pne) wrote,
Philip Newton

Amy's new words :: Bilingual Children: From Birth to Teens

Amy's new words of the day: Bücherei "library" (we went there today) and noch nich' "not yet", neither of which I had heard before.

At school, more than fifteen years ago, I had read Dr. George Saunders's book Bilingual Children: From Birth to Teens. I liked the story he told of how he raised his children bilingually in English (his native language, that of his wife, and the community language in Australia where he lived) and German (which he had learned and which he spoke to the children).

Bilingual upbringing was something that had interested me for many years, since I consider it a great gift and opportunity that I was raised bilingually, and I wanted to impart that gift to my later children, if possible. Since the language pair was the same as mine (though "the other way around", since the father's language and minority language was English in my case, German in his), I could follow along easily with the examples he gave of his children's speech, without needing to rely on the translations he provided.

Occasionally, I would remember the book; most recently, a couple of years ago. I tried to find the book, but it was apparently out of print (published 1988) and hard to find even in used book shops. By contrast, Saunders's book Bilingual Children: Guidance for the Family was fairly easy to find, but From Birth to Teens is a revised and expanded version, covering six more years and including, for example, data on Saunders's daughter, who had not yet started speaking when the earlier book had been written, so because of all that and because that was the edition I had read so many years ago, that was the one I was trying to get.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, Abebooks sent me an email telling me that one of my wants had been matched—and lo and behold, it was the second edition that was listed. Two copies, even! I ordered one the same day, and it arrived less than two weeks later.

I've only had time to skim it so far, but I recognised many things from back then, and I look forward to re-reading it. To see what Saunders writes about bilingual children in general, and his experience with his own children in particular—on topics as diverse as how other people react to their children speaking a different language and what measures he used to encourage the children to speak German and acquire literacy in that language.

At any rate, I'd recommend it to people who are looking to bring up their children bilingually, especially English/German (if you can get hold of it, that is!).

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