Review: Bilingual Siblings by Suzanne Barron-Hauwaert

bilingual siblingsWhen we had our our first child, as many other bilingual families we wondered how she would take to learning two languages. There is a lot of planning and work in raising successful bilingual children, thing are not that simple, as they are many different factors to consider. After the first child come the second, and for some families a few more. How does the language balance inside the family change with several children, is it easier to maintain the minority language given that there are more potential speakers in the family, or is it even more difficult because children bring in from the school the majority language?

These and many other questions are analysed in Bilingual Siblings a book by Suzanne Barron-Hauwaert. Suzanne is British and married to a Frenchman. They live in France with their three bilingual children. She advises families through bilingual support groups in France and writes on education and bringing up children with two languages.

It is not such a simple matter as one would have thought. Before you have children of your own, or at least I did, you tend to think that the more the merrier, 1 +1 =2, but nothing furthest from the truth. The fact that your older child may be a fluent speaker of your language will not necessarily mean that your next children will by default fall in and speak that language. Generally, there are other forces at play, like school, friends, etc. No one child is the same, and not one family is the same, so that is why Suzanne Barron-Hauwaert’s book is so interesting. In it you will find a wealth of information relating not just simply to the bilingual family, but the bilingual siblings, their relation and the forces at play while they´re growing up.

It’s definitely a must-have in your bilingual library. Have you read it? Have you got any comments about it or any other books you´ve read?

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