Book Reviews Languages - hgunn.uk


Baker (2011) Foundations of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism - Bilingualism

        This is a well researched deep book. It has been written by Colin Baker. who is Welshman, who is a world authority on bilingualism. Readers need to be aware that education contains a broad church of academic authorities in different fields. 

      No educationalist is an authority in every field. Bakers work is a  primarily a top down review of research.

       Baker refers to the revitalisation of historical minority languages in his initial chapter. He argues that bilingual speakers do not necessarily need to develop fluency in each language to be referred to as being bilingual, they normally have a  dominant language and that they will apply each of their languages in different contexts.

         Baker refers to functional bilingualism that refers to the contexts that bilinguals apply their languages in. They cannot use both languages similtaneously. They may use a specific language(s) with the friends, work and teachers, for instance, and in activities like shopping, work, leisure and hobbies, or religious meetings.

        The interesting feature about bilingualism is that the way it grows will reflect the circumstances that learners are in.

       Baker refers to balanced bilinguals, who have a relatively equal capability in each language. Incipient bilinguals, who have a strong and weak language. Ascendant bilinguals, who are developing a second language. 

        Baker also refers to similtaneous bilinguals, who will develop their bilinguals from birth, and sequential bilinguals, who acquire it after birth. 

        Baker refers to a time when it was believed that le learning through two languages interfered with each other. He argued that there is cognitive overlap between the two. 

        This view is valid. Semantic memory stores words and concepts in abstract forms, but each need to be practised to develop fluency in each. Baker claims that one language can be dominant.


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Grosjean and Ping  (2014) The Psychologinuistics of Bilingualism

       This very interesting book refers to research on the cognition of bilingualism. It is illustrates complexity of the issue and that there are no simple answers to bilingual issues. Most interestingly it explains that bilingual speakers in most parts of the world use each of their language in specific contexts

      It refers to interesting comparisons between distinct language forms in the world. This raises serious concerns about the reading comparisons of Pisa. It explains that South Korean and Chinese language are two distinct forms of language. Both are very different way to alphabetical languages.

   This questions the validity of Pisa, because not only do language capabilities correlates with mathematics and science attainment, but it is difficult to determine how comparative reading scores can be constructed from so many diverse languages.

        It refers the distinction between simultaneous and sequential language learning and some of the advantages of bilingualism. It also illustrates that the fluency that learners and speakers achieve is related to language usage in macro and micro terms. A bilingual can be fluent in one context, but they will not be in another.

      It also explains that the balance of bilingualism and the dominant language in bilingualism can change. It not fixed in time. This reflects the fact that the human brain is very plastic. Bilinguals may not be able to perform successfully in each language in specific contexts.

     It also refers to the fact that word learning is declarative, conscious memory, and also that fluency that bilingual develop in each language will be related to how much the language is used and the contexts that it is developed in.

    This a deep book that anyone who has an interest in bilingualism should read. As with some many educational issues, it raises as many questions as answers.


Yule (2017) The Study of Language 

      This a standard university text book on language. It consider all aspects of form of language. It refers to aspects of language cognition and language learning. His work ilustrates the complextiy of language.

     Yule refers to a Welsh as being a language of the community and learners of minority language need to become fluent in majority language to participate in the wider society.

    Yule cites Israel as the only country in the world that has turned a minority language into a majority one.

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