• Emma Corbet

Book Review: Maximize Your Child's Bilingual Ability


Adam Beck's book, Maximize Your Child's Bilingual Ability, is packed full of useful information and real life experience with raising his children bilingually in Japanese and English. It's a favorite of mine, and one I always like to keep handy on my bookshelf. While Beck acknowledges the challenges of bringing a minority language into our home and raising multilingual kids in general, he reminds us throughout the book that our efforts will be rewarded. His words are both realistic and inspirational.


WHO SHOULD READ THIS BOOK?

Everyone! This book is full of helpful tips and interesting ideas to encourage us on our bilingual journey.


LENGTH: 263 pages





The book is broken down into short sections he calls perspectives and principles, making it easy to reference. He offers practical advice and guidance on how to successfully raise bilingual, or multilingual, children regardless of our location, circumstances, or financial resources. Beck also offers many suggestions on how to handle the bumps and obstacles we may need to overcome along the way.


One of my favorite perspectives he shares is: our child wants to be bilingual. The future them, the adult them, wants to be bilingual. Hardly anyone complains about the difficulties of growing up with two languages, while the majority of those who aren't bilingual deeply wish that they were.


"Tell yourself: 'Yes, my child, I know it's hard sometimes. But I also know that deep down, in the adult that lies within you, you really do want to be bilingual and you would regret it one day if you weren't. So I will continue to support the development of your minority language with all the patience and persistence and perseverance that this tired old parent can manage.' And you go on."

-Adam Beck, page 11


Beck believes that our success in raising bilingual children will boil down to a simple equation:

Exposure + Need = Bilingual Ability


The key to exposure is that it needs to be both sufficient and effective. He's not afraid to point out that TV and electronic devices should only amount to a very small part of a child's overall language exposure. Active exposure is critical for language development. It is the real human interactions we have that matter most in fostering bilingual ability.


"The hard truth is... the extent of your ultimate success depends largely on you: on your desire and determination, your energy and endurance. It's a significant challenge- especially if you're the main source of exposure to the minority language- and commitments of time and money must be made. Nevertheless, it's always possible to shape your circumstances in ways that can help increase the minority language exposure your child receives."

-Adam Beck, page 114


One of the reasons I love this book so much, is the strong and re-assuring message Beck shares throughout the book, that not only is raising children in a multilingual home possible and worthwhile, but that this journey can actually strengthen our relationships with our children and create memories with them that we will cherish for a lifetime.


"As a direct result of our bilingual quest, we end up giving more of ourselves to them during their childhood, which no doubt deepens our bond for a lifetime."

-Adam Beck


This book really is worth a read for any family raising bilingual children, regardless of what your chosen languages may be.