Bilingual is Better; Review and Giveaway

by Elizabeth

Roxana Soto and Ana Flores don’t have to convince me that children gain untold advantages by being raised to speak more than one language–I am so convinced that “bilingual is better” that I raised my kids overseas, hoping for polyglots. The two authors of the successful parenting blog SpanglishBaby.com have produced a book that presents all the reasons for raising a bilingual child–from scientific studies of enhanced brain development to personal stories of children growing up with a wider involvement with the world around them, ties to families in other countries, and broader job opportunities as adults.

In general, Americans of my generation have a hard time learning a second language, because we typically don’t even start until high school. I remember explaining this to my Mauritanian friends, where I lived and taught English for 6 years. “Why are Americans so stupid at learning other languages?” one had asked me as I stumbled around in Arabic. I cringed, of course, but I explained. Look around you, I told her. All the signs you see are in Arabic or French or both. You grow up hearing 3 or 4 languages spoken around you, so even if you only speak Arabic and French, you are familiar with the sounds of Pulaar and Sonike. You hear English on TV. Your world is polyglot, I told her, whereas mine was monolingual in every way.

Soto and Flores both grew up in two worlds. Soto was born in Peru and moved to Miami as a teenager. Flores was born in Texas to parents from El Salvador, and she grew up in 5 countries on 4 continents (thereby beating out my kids, who have only lived in 4 countries on 3 continents). Both of them are raising their children in the US, and both of them committed to raising children equally comfortable in English and Spanish, able to move at ease between languages and worlds. They wanted their children to be proud of their heritage, and to be able to talk to their grandparents and cousins in either country. Best friends since college, they put their heads together and launched Spanglish Baby to give other parents resources in their own quest to raise bilingual children. Now Bilingual Is Better goes farther and deeper, as both moms open up to share the good and the bad, the easy and the difficult, while showing us again and again why it’s worth it to make the effort.

Soto and Flores recognize that their audience includes couples who are both monolingual, and can’t raise bilingual children as easily but still recognize the importance of it. They include strategies and resources to introduce a second language and bring children (and their parents) to a level of comfort in a second language.

Chapters include:

  • Raising a Spanglish Baby (including Most Common Methods and Help for Non-Native Speakers)
  • Bilingual Education
  • Between Two Worlds: Identity vs. Assimilation
  • Raising Bicultural Children in the United States

Bilingual Is Better: Two Latina Moms on How the Bilingual Parenting Revolution is Changing the Face of America is a fantastic book, combining resources, charts, personal stories, and much more. I highly recommend it. In fact, it’s inspired me to work harder to make sure my 3 teens don’t lose their French, something I admit we’ve been lazy about.

I’m thrilled to announce that one of you can win your own copy! Follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter below to enter.

The winner of Ten Girls to Watch is Jenny.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Email Author    |    Website About Elizabeth

Elizabeth is a voracious reader with eclectic tastes who loves being part of the team at 5 Minutes for Books. She's lived in 7 countries and is currently in Oregon, where she spends most of her time with Iraqi refugees. She has 3 teens.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 christine jessamine September 24, 2012 at 12:40 am

when i was little i went to a bilingual elementary school from pre-k to 3rd grade, i was fluent in spanish and got to experience mexican culture in all different forms, when we moved, i forgot alot of it till I worked with spanish speakers and picked it up quickly. i love spanish. i am not fluent but will be practicing it with my daughter who is now 1. it is an important part of american culture.

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2 Musingsfromme/Jill September 24, 2012 at 10:51 am

I took French rom 6th through 10th grades. I was able to order food when we traveled to France for vacations. At one time I could read a Tin Tin book in French and unerstand the story. My oldest now takes French, while my middle takes Spanish. My middle is enjoying her Spanish class in high school. I’d like to support her.

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3 Kerrie Mayans September 24, 2012 at 12:49 pm

I am definitely interested in it. My husband speaks spanish and we tried it with our first daughter and it seemed to fail so we didn’t with our second or third because I thought it didn’t work but now I realize that my oldest had learning disabilities that would have made it hard no matter what and the two middle ones would have probably done fine with mom speaking english and dad speaking spanish. I want to try it for the fourth but we will see.

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4 Idaho Jill September 24, 2012 at 6:31 pm

I started Spanish in middle school…but have forgotten most of it. We are actually thinking of moving overseas, so we have been trying to refresh our memories. My husband lived in France for 6 months…but that was 25 years ago. He can still get by when we visit, but… I’d love to get some immersion – that’s really the best way to learn!
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5 Lindsay September 24, 2012 at 9:12 pm

I have taken about four years of Spanish and worked in a bilingual environment! My language skills are not top notch but I do try. I feel it’s important to be bilingual.

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6 Chris September 25, 2012 at 10:56 am

Our country is so lacking in preparing our children to navigate in an international society. Our three children went as Rotary exchange students in high school. Each learned a second language and we are so grateful for that opportunity as it’s opened doors for them as they enter the job markets. Now our baby granddaughter will be attending “Mommy and me” Spansish classes as her parents move to El Paso. This is so important !

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7 Judith September 25, 2012 at 3:56 pm

The 6th or 7th grade pilot program in Spanish at my middle school was a bomb. My two years of high school Spanish were unfortunate, to put it graciously. Twelve years living in Japan finally allowed me to do what I knew I’d love – learn another language. But like you, I’m three years post-return-to-America and letting my Japanese slide. VERY interested.

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8 anne September 25, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Bilingualism is an asset and anyone who has the chance to learn other languages should have that opportunity. It offers individuals an ability that is a necessity in our world. My son is fluent in French since he was a French Immersion student. Not everyone is able to learn languages well but he was blessed with this ability.

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9 ellie September 25, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Being bilingual is so important. When you travel throughout the world it is convenient and wonderful to be comfortable conversing with others in their land. I recommend being bilingual to all since it is extraordinary and beneficial.

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10 Winona September 26, 2012 at 8:54 am

Both my children are bilingual (Spanish-English). Being able to speak a second (or third or more) language effortlessly is a *gift* for life! Learning a language goes beyond taking it in middle or high school. One has to be immersed in the language to really get it. (I took 4 years of German in high school and college and all I can remember is a few words and phrases.) I believe we should be doing more in our country to get our children to become *speakers* of other languages, not fill an elective only to walk away with a a hand full of phrases. After all, the world is becoming smaller and smaller each day.

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11 riTa September 27, 2012 at 5:54 pm

I am bilingual and trying to pass on language skills to my grandchildren. It is so encouraging to hear of others who are successful and learn from them.
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12 Leah Baird September 28, 2012 at 1:37 pm

I think for children bilingual is great to start them young, and just easier for them to learn and use later. I wish I was taught mostly Spanish when I was young, because I believe it is the most useful language, in the united states.
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13 brad h September 29, 2012 at 11:01 am

i’m very interested! i wish i had learned another language

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14 Gee October 3, 2012 at 10:30 am

I am Italian and raising my daughters in the US. They are learning both languages and even a hint of Spanish! At 3&4 they have already been to so many beautiful places and have friends all over the world. It’s so enriching for all of us as a family.

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