• Emma Corbet

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


WHO IS THIS BOOK FOR: Everyone, especially those in the beginning stages of introducing a language to their child. As the title states, this truly is a comprehensive guide answering why, when, and how to teach our children a second language.


LENGTH: 256 pages





The Bilingual Edge was written by two parents and professors of Linguistics at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Right away these authors share with us why they felt writing this book was so important:

  1. There is overwhelming enthusiasm and desire among parents to promote early second language learning;

  2. There is widespread misunderstanding about how second languages are learned (and how they aren't);

  3. There is a remarkable lack of unbiased, scientifically based- but understandable- information out there for parents.


I love that their approach emphasizes scientific findings and there are many sections throughout the book they call "Spotlights on Research" sharing specific on-topic studies. I especially love the questions they prompt you with and thought exercises they ask you to complete at various points throughout the book. It's a great opportunity for reflection and to clarify your own beliefs and goals.


They also tackle some of the most common language learning MYTHS in Chapter 2 such as:

- Only bilingual parents can raise bilingual children.

- You have to start very early for second language learning, or you will miss the boat.

- Mixing languages is a sign of confusion, and languages must stay separate.

- It's important to correct errors as soon as they appear in grammar and vocabulary

(to prevent forming bad habits).

- Television, DVDs, and edutainment, like talking toys, are great ways to pick up some languages.

- Two languages are the most to which a very young child should be exposed.


And they share the real deal, the TRUTH, about these myths:


- Any parent can raise a child who knows more than one language, even if that parent is monolingual.

- Rich, dynamic, and meaningful interaction is critical and more important than having a perfect native-speaker model.

- Constantly correcting errors can do more harm than good.

- Learning two languages is not a cause of language delay.

- Most children go through a period of language mixing, it's normal!

- Children don't learn much language through television or other edutainment items- thes