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Bilingual: Life and Reality Hardcover – May 15, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0674048874 ISBN-10: 0674048873

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (May 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674048873
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674048874
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.7 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,056,437 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Grosjean (Life with Two Languages) breaks little new ground in his study of bilingualism, but he does succeed in his stated aim to demystify who bilinguals are and the psychological ramifications of possessing more than one language with which to process and articulate experience. His discussion zeros in on such behaviors as suppressing the knowledge of one language in order to communicate in another or the choice to resist using a language because of a trauma or, conversely, lack of emotional connection to it. He distinguishes between bilinguals and biculturals and the situations that arise in the case of their coincidence. While not quite a revelation on the ability or aptitude for bilingualism, the book is a clear and readable primer covering various linguistic idiosyncrasies, state attitudes toward bilingualism, how to encourage equal aptitude in both languages, and the challenges in raising bilingual children. Enlivening the text are Grosjean's anecdotes about growing up bilingual (he is the son of an English mother and French father) and studies on the intersection of language and politics—especially when bilingualism is explicitly nurtured, as in Navajo revival classes on reservations. (Apr.)
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Review

What may not be apparent to the non-specialist is the extent to which Grosjean masters the entire body of scholarly literature on bilingualism produced during the past 100 years… It is worth having at one's fingertips the unpretentiously presented, solidly researched facts and figures in this gentle, humorous, civilized book. (Mela Sarkar Montreal Gazette 2010-06-04)

The personal dimension of the book contributes to its readability and vitality. Grosjean succeeds in impressing on his readers the need to demystify bilingualism and seek ways in which to encourage linguistic diversity. (Kerstin Hoge Times Literary Supplement 2010-07-16)

Bilingual: Life and Reality…is a readable, informative, and emotionally satisfying work… The book is a gift. (Barbara Zurer Pearson Language)

More About the Author

François Grosjean received his degrees up to the Doctorat d'Etat from the University of Paris, France. He started his academic career at the University of Paris 8 and then left for the United-States in 1974 where he taught and did research in psycholinguistics at Northeastern University, Boston. While at Northeastern he was also a Research Affiliate at the Speech Communication Laboratory at MIT. In 1987, he was appointed professor at Neuchâtel University, Switzerland, where he founded the Language and Speech Processing Laboratory. He has lectured occasionally at the Universities of Basel, Zurich and Oxford. In 1998, he cofounded Bilingualism: Language and Cognition (Cambridge University Press).

His domains of interest are the perception, comprehension and production of speech, bilingualism and biculturalism, sign language and the bilingualism of the Deaf, the evaluation of speech comprehension in aphasic patients, as well as the modeling of language processing.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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I'd recommend this book for teachers and others who want to know more about bilingualism.
teprusa
François Grosjean's excellent book debunks many of the myths of bilingualism and gives useful and practical suggestions for multilingual families.
Cynthia Meyer
Reading the cover of the book I was concerned that it would be too technical, he has written a lot of technical studies.
Maddalena

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Maddalena on June 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I am bilingual, I learned my second language as an adult. I've had lots of burning questions about my
ability to speak my first and my second language. Mr Grosjean explains it all in a book that I did not want to put down.
Reading the cover of the book I was concerned that it would be too technical, he has written a lot of technical studies. But I was happily mistaken. The book is full of anecdotes and wisdom about being bilingual and raising bilingual children as well.
Having read this book I feel better about myself and my abilities, and I feel like I found my "tribe" - other people who speak two or more languages.

here are some gems from his book:

True: it is easier to swear in your second language

False: Children raised learning more than one language get confused and don't do as well in school.

The book is full of stuff like this. I recommend it to anyone who has ever studied a second language.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia Meyer on December 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Are you raising children with two or more languages? Were you raised in a bilingual environment? Are you a second language learner who is wondering what "bilingual" really means and if you will ever get there? François Grosjean's excellent book debunks many of the myths of bilingualism and gives useful and practical suggestions for multilingual families.

Grosjean's writing style is clear and engaging. The subject matter is well-organized and logical. He shares personal stories which draw in the reader while referring to current research in the field. Bilingual readers will recognize and relate to his description of real life with two or more languages. For parents trying to raise children with more than one language, this book will give them a useful guide to overcoming some of the challenges and the maximizing the blessings of the bilingual path.

I have given this book as a gift to bilingual friends, recommended it enthusiastically to participants in my family language learning workshops and even persuaded my local librarian to order a copy for our town library.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By holasoybonnie on March 8, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchased this book as a Spring Break read years ago. As a Spanish teacher, and mother hoping to raise a child bilingually, I return to this book over and over to refresh my spirit and remind myself how amazing our brains are, and how different a bilingual brain is from a monolingual brain!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Emre Sevinc on September 15, 2013
Format: Paperback
When a retired bilingual professor who knows his field very well takes the reader on a short and friendly tour, the result is a pleasure in many aspects. For me, two major aspects of the book were its explaining and debunking of myths related to bilingualism (and never forgetting the fact that experiencing a new language means experiencing a new culture and way of thinking at the same time), as well as having a dedicated chapter on the bilingualism of children.

The readers who did not know much about bilingualism will gain a lot from this book without having forced to struggle with heavy academic linguistics terminology. Parents who are concerned about the bilingualism of their children will be relieved as Prof. Grosjean explains why many of the myths are problematic or plainly false.

From the beginning to the end, the personal tone of the book made me feel like as if I was in a conversation with an old friend who knew a lot about bilingualism and shared this, as well as his personal experiences, without never intimidating.

If you want a good, non-academic starter for all matters related bilingualism, this book is one of the few I can sincerely recommend.
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