Extracts from Bilingual: Life and Reality – Conclusion

by Corey · 3 comments

It is our great honor at Multilingual Living to publish this series of extracts from Professor François Grosjean’s new book Bilingual: Life and Reality, which has been nominated for the Edward Sapir Book Prize 2010. Prof. Grosjean knows intimately what he writes about: not only is he “one of the grand old men of research on bilingualism” but is himself bilingual.

Over the course of the next eight weeks, we will be presenting extracts from the introductory chapter as well as six chapters on childhood bilingualism. The information presented is intended to dispel the myriad of myths that abound about bilingualism as well as give us a glimpse into the life of someone who has spent a lifetime living and researching the life of bilinguals.

In addition, we encourage readers to read Prof. Grosjean’s Q & A series as his answers are packed with information and wisdom. For more information about Prof. Francois Grosjean, please visit his website as well as his Psychology Today blog.

You may want to start with the first posts in this series:

Extracts from Bilingual: Life and Reality, by François Grosjean
– Short Conclusion-

Corey Heller has kindly asked me whether I would like to write a few words to conclude the series of extracts from my latest book, Bilingual: Life and Reality, and it is with pleasure that I do so.

I would like to start by thanking all those who have read these extracts. I realize that they were very short and that we had to leave many things out – most notably examples of real life situations – but we had rather strict length limitations set by the publisher.

What better way of concluding the series than to give two short quotes from the book’s Conclusion:

“Although I have tackled in this book some fifteen myths about (bilingualism and biculturalism), I am the first to acknowledge that some still have a long life ahead of them. That said, it is worth repeating over and over again that there are probably more bilinguals on the earth today than monolinguals and that, in this age of global communication and travel, the number will surely increase.”

“……. Despite the myths I am optimistic. An increasing number of children and adolescents in the process of becoming bilingual, bicultural, and, for some, biliterate are receiving the attention they require precisely because they are bilingual and bicultural. As I have said, there are bound to be times when the going is difficult and frustration occurs. It is crucial, therefore, that all receive encouragement and assistance…… Caring and informed adults must accompany them (many already do) and ease their passage from one stage to the next. I dream of the moment when these young people and, later, adults will all be proud of their languages and cultures, and be accepted for who they are—bilingual and bicultural individuals, quite simply.”

The readers of Multilingual Living are definitely among the “caring and informed adults” I had in mind when I was writing the Conclusion and I wish them all the best in nurturing the bilingualism and biculturalism of their children.

And all my thanks to Corey Heller for having hosted these extracts on Multilingual Living; I am most grateful to her.

Allow me to end by saying to all of you, “Au revoir / goodbye”!

For those interested, do feel free to come and see my blog on the Psychology Today website and look me up on my own website.

Electronically reproduced by permission of the publisher from BILINGUAL: LIFE AND REALITY by François Grosjean, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, Copyright © 2010 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved.

François Grosjean, the author of Bilingual: Life and Reality, 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). Visit his website at: www.francoisgrosjean.ch and his Psychology Today blog, Life as a bilingual, at: www.psychologytoday.com/blog/life-bilingual.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Charissa December 20, 2010 at 7:05 am

I just wanted to say I bought this book and read the whole thing in 2 days. Thanks so much for making me aware of it! Reading it really struck home – I’ve been scared to actually come out and say “I’m bilingual in Dutch/English” for a long time because I figured “Well, I didn’t learn English at the same time as Dutch so I *can’t* be an ‘official’ bilingual person.” Yet it has felt that way for a long time. (Imagine explaining to Dutch (or English!) friends that, yes I think in English most of the time. You would be surprised how many people can’t believe that because, after all “You only think in your first language”. Or the fact that English is more natural and ‘easier’ to me than using Dutch. It’s true, but people find it hard to believe (oh and yes the annoying fact that I do still have a slight accent in English, has always bothered me. Now for the first time in over a decade I feel that it is in fact acceptable for me to have that accent!).

Long story short, if you’re considering buying this but aren’t sure it’s worth it… it is. 🙂


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