Living Languages: Multilingualism across the lifespan (2008)
Different times in human development lend themselves to different language learning processes due to social, neurological and psychological reasons. There is no one-size-fits-all recommendation for parents and teachers related to foreign language acquisition and this book argues that a person’s learning potential can be nurtured and maximized when best practice strategies and methodologies are applied.
By knowing what methods best suit which life stages, parents and teachers can help the children in their lives develop the best multilingual skills possible.
This book reviews the ten key factors in raising multilingual children (aptitude, timing, motivation, strategy, consistency, opportunity, the linguistic relationship between the languages, siblings, gender and hand-use as a reflection of cerebral dominance) and explains how each is important, even in its absence. Chapter 2 celebrates how lucky we are to be living at this particular time in history when languages are so highly valued. Chapters 3 and 4 go into languages across the lifespan and define seven different life stages from birth to adulthood while responding to important questions such as How long does it take a non-native speaker to become fluent? What is the difference between learning to read and write in your first, second and third languages? and What role do emotions play in learning?
Chapter 5 explains how language typology, proficiency, metalinguistic awareness, time, education, age, parents and teachers are described as the eight influencing factors in successful trilingualism. Chapter 6 is dedicated to explaining how the brain works when it takes on more than one language and helps readers understand what normal complications can arise in this process in order to guide them in becoming more efficient. Chapter 7 focuses on how language learning is impacted by different key players in a person’s life, including families, schools and society, and what they can do to encourage the best environments possible. Chapter 8 offers a personal reflection and recounts our family story consisting of five countries, four languages, three kids, two nationalities, and one home.