An Introduction to Bilingual Development
Author: Annick De Houwer
Increasingly, children grow up hearing two languages from birth. This introductory textbook shows how children learn to understand and speak those languages against the backdrop of their language learning environments. A narrative around the bilingual development of four young children with different language profiles helps to explain the latest research findings in a lively and accessible manner. The narrative describes how bilingually raised children learn to understand and use sounds, words and sentences in two languages, and how they are able to use each of their languages in socially appropriate ways. Positive attitudes towards bilingual development from the people in bilingual children's environments and their recognition that child bilingualism is not monolingualism-times-two are the main ingredients ensuring that children grow up to be happy and expert speakers of two languages.
De Houwer's book introduces readers to the research findings about bilingual first language acquisition through the charming stories of four imaginary bilingual children growing up in different contexts. Parents, students, and practitioners alike will discover what to expect from typical bilingual acquisition, including how individual "typical" can be!
The kind of bilingual development which starts very early, namely bilingual first language acquisition (BFLA), seems to attract much attention and spark much curiosity. How do children manage to acquire two languages simultaneously? In what ways does early bilingual exposure affect the course of their overall language development? Behind such questions lurks the yardstick of monolingualism, by which BFLA is often inappropriately evaluated. Now prominent BFLA expert Annick de Houwer has given us an introductory book with a most balanced and fair view of BFLA as a standard in its own right, tracing the bilingual development of four fictitious prototypical children. As always, her clarity of thought and writing makes the book accessible to anyone.
Overall this book is written in an understandable and easy-to-follow manner, particularly due to the use of stories of the four children throughout…this book would be an excellent addition to a course on bilingual child language acquisition, as it contains clearly explained information on bilingual language acquisition in an easily accessible format.
Studies in Second Language Acquisition / Volume 33 / Issue 04 / December 2011, pp 629-631
Annick De Houwer has recently been appointed as Chair of Language Acquisition and Teaching at the University of Erfurt in Germany. She is also the new Director of the Language Center there. In addition, Professor De Houwer holds the title of Collaborative Investigator to the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (U.S.A.). Her PhD was based on a dissertation on bilingual acquisition, a topic she has since continued to work on steadily. Her book The Acquisition of Two Languages from Birth (CUP, 1990) is widely cited in the bilingual acquisition literature. Dr. De Houwer has also published on Dutch child language, attitudes towards child language, teen language, and intralingual subtitling. She has extensive editorial experience.
1: Introducing the fancy term for bilingual development: Bilingual First Language Acquisition
2: From birth to the comprehension of words
3: Saying words and starting to combine them
4: Making sentences
5: Preschool and beyond
6: In conclusion: Bilingual learning in context