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The Bilingual Edge: Why, When, and How to Teach Your Child a Second Language

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  239 ratings  ·  48 reviews
It's no secret that parents want their children to have the lifelong cultural and intellectual advantages that come from being bilingual. Parents spend millions of dollars every year on classes, computer programs, and toys, all of which promise to help children learn a second language. But many of their best efforts (and investments) end in disappointment.

In The Bilingual
Paperback, 304 pages
Published July 3rd 2007 by Harper Perennial (first published 2007)
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Average rating 3.67  · 
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 ·  239 ratings  ·  48 reviews

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Feb 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
So far this is the best book I've read regarding raising a child to be bilingual. All the info on the advantages of doing this, as well as the myths associated with it, is the same in this book as the others. I skimmed through that part. However, this book answered so many more questions I had, such as if you are speaking the "target" language to your child, how to approach this when speaking in public or in playgroups; how to handle your child rebelling; the role of birth order and gender in ...more
Apr 13, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Parents
Recommended to Ricardo by: Lisa Oswald
If you are interested in reading this book, perhaps you are already convinced about the advantages for your child to learn a second language. The authors present interesting facts and research about bilingual and multilingualism, as well as perspectives from their own experiences raising their children. An interesting section in this book is the one about myths in learning a second language. If you are already sold on the idea of second language learning, this might not be a must read book for ...more
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this. It summed about a lot of what I learned in my MA, but with more of a focus on child language acquisition obviously. One thing they didn't touch on was identity and culture with language. I think that would have been an interesting topic to explore. But it's a great book that I will give as a baby gift from now on!
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: parenting
This book not only gives the many reasons for raising a child to have more than one language, but provides encouragement and support for many different situations and environments.
May 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Five stars means that there are absolutely no flaws....and while that isn't true, I am not going to be nit-picky enough to flip through the pages just to find something wrong to comment about.

I loved this book. For over three years I have been researching bilingual parenting, bilingualism, how to raise a bilingual family, etc. I have way more knowledge than I need in order to act...but my perfectionistic side has kept me procrastinating a dream I've had for a very long time.

Long story short,
Oct 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Clear, encouraging, debunked a lot of myths I had heard about raising your kids to be bilingual. I found it a bit slow at the start where they took time to convince the reader why bilingualism was good, because they were already preaching to the choir. That's my only gripe. I like how the chapters have summaries at the end of the important points tackled in each. Has some references and resources at the back for further reading.
May 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: parents of bilingual children
This is a comprehensive book about raising multilingual children that takes into account research and parents' experiences. It counters the myths of bilingualism (even the myth that if you didn't start from babyhood, it's too late) and thereby gives validation and inspiration to families who are in any stage or configuration of bilingualism. Instead of feeling discouraged that maybe I wasn't doing enough to promote my own baby's bilingualism, I felt gently encouraged to do more.
Jan 27, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: family, languages
A lot of stuff in the book are common sense. Things like, spend more time with the language, interact with native speakers, etc. One interesting point: watching foreign TV won't help much.
May 17, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The bilingual edge

I was really excited for this book but as a bilingual mom of 2 I have to say it had very little - if any - new information. Most of it seemed like extensive explanations of common sense concepts and quickly got repetitive. i started skipping and skimming over paragraphs that were not relevant to my own family situation or got long and boring. You could probably reduce the reading to the “quick facts” and summaries at the end of each section and still get most of the
Catelyn Silapachai
Jul 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm preparing to be a first time parent, and this book was exactly what I was looking for. I have heard so many different opinions about best practices for teaching a child a second language and was looking for a way to wade through the myths and find truth backed by research. This book broke down the most commonly held myths about learning a second language for children and really helped me to start to learn what to expect and how to prepare. I found the tone to be very practical and ...more
Kären Marroquin
Nov 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult, parenting
This book does an excellent job of explaining the research around bilingualism and helping parents think through what they want for their child. Because of my background in bilingual education a lot of the research was review for me but it was still helpful to think about language learning at different ages and what that might look like for us.
A.K. Klemm
Sep 13, 2018 rated it liked it
All the things we already know...
Jun 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: parenting
This is a good book to keep for reference. I read the first third very carefully. (The book talks about children of all ages, so I skipped the older children sections.) I was such a know-it-all about language acquisition, but this book proved me wrong. It's written by two Georgetown linguists who are also parents, and it draws on current research. One thing this book addresses nicely is the need for real human interaction in language learning, so passive activities like watching TV programs or ...more
Aug 31, 2011 rated it liked it
not bad for total beginners to the idea wondering whether it's worth the investment to add a second language to their child's life. or as an introduction to the topic to share with skeptical family members if you have already decided to do the bilingual thing. however, a little fluffy compared to Raising a Bilingual Child, which i thought was better for already-committed parents looking for practical solutions and real-life information.
Mar 25, 2008 rated it liked it
This book annoyed me SO MUCH because it was trying really hard to be friendly to everyone, no matter what. It was all like, Don't speak a word of a second language? Your kid is already 50 years old? No problem! It's never too late!

And yes, there really were that many exclamation points. But there was a review of some actual, scientific research, which was useful, and they did have good tips and pointers. I definitely took away a good overall message from it too. Still, I ordered another book on
Jan 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
Good book if you're really, really interested in raising your children bilingually. I was reading it more out of an interest in language and, while I like the idea of children (or anyone) being fluent in more than one language) it seemed a little over the top--like speaking several languages is THE skill to ensure the success of your children in today's world. There is some good research and the authors are definitely passionate about their subject--I just can't agree that hiring a bilingual ...more
Oct 23, 2008 rated it it was ok
Has some interesting tid-bits and a few good to know facts, but as a city dweller in a diverse area, it's nothing too new: exposure and respect of culture is good and fostered by second language development, bilingualism doesn't funk up intellectual development or delay other skills. One thing that's good to know: according to research a child must have at least 20% of their language exposure be in another language in order to attain a general proficiency.

Sep 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: education
Very interesting book. It gives lots of evidence on why teaching your child a second language is important and all the benefits that can come from knowing more than one language. All-in-all, it's a bit daunting to think about, especially because I know very little Spanish, but I think it's one of the many things I can do for my child to help him later in life. So...Spanish songs, books, nursery we come!
Saleh Sepehrifar
Mar 05, 2013 rated it liked it
Although it is an informative book, full of research data, authors have explained every simple fact too much that sometimes I felt as a dummy who can't recognize things easily! I guess the main problem of this book is explaining every thing too much!

SPOTLIGHT ON RESEARCH is a very interesting part which provide the reader with the latest data in bilingualism science. I love this part.

WHAT IF is another part which is really helpful for parents, I guess.
Feb 22, 2010 rated it liked it
I read this not as a parent but as a (future) foreign language teacher. I think the book really drives home the importance of meaningful exposure to a language and how language learning then occurs "naturally." Foreign language classes can seem forced, in my opinion, and the nature of classroom structure could possibly be a deterrent for some students to learn a language. That being said, it gave me some great ideas that I hope to incorporate in my classroom.
Oct 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book was a readable somewhat academic treatment of raising a bilingual kid. I appreciated King's insistance that languages can be learned at every age and that every age has its own advantage to learning a specific component to language. I skimmed about 20 pages near the end, but overall I would recommend this to individual considering raising their kid bilingual. I think I'd like to review it again if I ever get more serious about raising my kids to be bilingual.
Phuong Pham
Jun 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is hands down the best book on raising bilingual kids on the market. It is research based and written by well known professors in the field. It answers all of the questions that a parent might be asking regarding bilingualism. Some of the technology references are dated though. I hope the authors are working on the second edition.
An interesting and basic grounding in bilingualism - both from a justification perspective as well as a technique standpoint. This is good as a stand-alone book, though anyone determined to pursue bilingualism with their child/children would benefit from reading some more books on practical ideas as well as a more technical book to understand how language acquisition works.
Lacked more information on the "how." It explained a lot about the "why" so if you're on the fence about teaching a second language to your child, pick up this book. I was already convinced that I want my daughter to learn more than one language so it didn't quite help me. It had tips, but they were not very useful to me, granted that the book was realistic in what parents should expect.
Eva Filoramo
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Engaging and entertaining, it is a good read for those parents who would really like to talk to their kids in a different language but do not know from where to start and would like to feel like they are part of a bigger group.
Jul 15, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: parents of young children
Nothing that rocked my world, except for the debunking of the myth that infants/toddler raised bilingually start talking later. Nice reinforcement that it's smart to send Eleri to a bilingual school. Some worry that kindergarten is almost too late! A handy book of practical tips & science.
Masha Gololobova
May 28, 2015 rated it liked it
I felt like some advises were a bit outdated. But overall it gave me a very good sense of direction I should take to make sure my child is bilingual. I had to start somewhere to learn what route to take and I'm glad I read this book first. Thank you!
Jul 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book contained lots of great info covering a variety of language-learning situations, including non-native, monolingual parents. Also addressed and laid to rest common myths/fears of early bilingualism, using solid and up-to-date research.
Jul 27, 2011 rated it liked it
This is the perfect book for parents trying to teach (either themselves or through school) their children a second (or third!) language. It's what finally got me speaking Spanish to my kids, and what motivated me to keep going when I wanted to quit.
Mar 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Clear, well-written reference book for parents who are thinking of raising their child bilingually. Contains a lot of references to actual scientific research. The only flaw is that it's very US-centric, but it's still worth reading even if you are not US-based.
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