Book Review – “The Bilingual Edge”

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What was the first parenting book you read? Do you remember? I do.

This one: The Bilingual Edge by former graduate school professors of mine, Kendall King, PhD and Alison Mackey, PhD.

(No, I’m not getting paid or anything like that to review this book. I just love it!)

I actually read this book years before I had E. In fact, it’s responsible for planting the seed of bilingual parenting in my heart. Here’s why I continue to recommend it to both friends and family.

Authors King and Mackey, who, besides being researchers in the field of second language acquisition, are raising their children bilingually, seek to show in this book that any family, including monolingual speakers, can raise their children bilingually. So, if you’re a monolingual family considering embarking on the adventure of bilingual parenting, this book is a great place to start (notice the subtitle: “why, when, and how to teach your child a second language”).

The book is divided into four sections:

  1. Why are two languages better than one?
    • This section includes a list of common myths and misconceptions surrounding bilingualism.
  2. Which language and when?
    • Also includes a discussion of how individual differences like gender and birth order (fascinating!) affect a child’s bilingual language development.
  3. How?
    • What parents can do at home to provide their children with rich language input (no, DVDs aren’t enough!).
  4. What if…?
    • This section has served to allay some of my (common) worries, like what if your child mixes languages, or what about so-called language delay, and what if my extended family disagrees?


The tone of the book:

  • The Bilingual Edge is encouraging and straightforward. It sets forth bilingual parenting as an attainable goal, not just something for fluent bilingual parents.


What I like:

  1. Research to real life in layman’s terms
    • Unlike the first book review I did, which is heavier on the research and directed at a more narrow audience, The Bilingual Edge explains the research from the field of second language acquisition in a way that anyone can understand and appreciate.
  2. Solid chunk dedicated to demystifing some of the common myths
    • King and Mackey address ten misconceptions surrounding bilingualism, including:
  3. Spotlight on Research and Quick Tips
    • While the book is written for a general audience with no formal linguistic background, it does provide half-page “spotlights on research” for each topic covered, for those readers interested in digging deeper.

So, in closing, I leave you with one of my favorite quotations from the book. It’s a great reminder that any parent, whether mono-, bi-, tri-, or multilingual, can give the gift of language to their children. Be encouraged, friends!

All babies are born into this world with a gift for language learning. Because of this gift, millions of young children from all around the world routinely become bilingual, and so can yours. No matter what your language background and situation is, your child deserves – and can benefit from – all of the advantages that come with knowing more than one language. (From the Introduction)

6 thoughts on “Book Review – “The Bilingual Edge”

  1. Pingback: Conversation with Dr. Kendall King, linguistics professor, researcher, and co-author of “The Bilingual Edge” | Españolita...¡sobre la marcha!

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