Life as a Bilingual II

The reality of living with two or more languages.

Posted Jan 16, 2018

In the summer of 2010, Carlin Flora, Editor at Psychology Today, invited me to write a blog on bilingualism. I accepted for a number of reasons. I have always wanted to put to rest the many myths that surround bilingualism as well as tell the general public about findings in my research field. There is also the need to reassure bilinguals about their own bilingualism and to give those involved with children some basic knowledge about growing up with two or more languages. Finally, I wanted to constitute a small on-line resource on the bilingual person, adult and child, that people can come back to at any time. (For an interview that explains all this in more detail, see here).  

When I took a pause in 2014 in order to find the time to write a new book on bilingualism, I was happy to report that 450,000 visitors had come to my blog and that it already contained 77 posts. Ten months later, when the blog restarted, Professor Aneta Pavlenko kindly joined me, and since then we have shared the writing of posts. Today, there are 132 posts that people can read, which basically correspond to a whole book on the topic! In addition, the number of visitors has tripled and more than 1.4 million have come to our "Life as a bilingual" site since it started.

Before taking a second pause for part of this year, a few observations can be made. First, all the posts we have written can be perused on the Psychology Today site (see here). There, they are organized in chronological order, from the latest to the earliest, and this on several pages. Since this is not the easiest way to find a post, we offer a more practical way of doing so. We have organized posts by content area and the list is available here. On this page, we break them down into a number of categories: General, Adults, Children, Across the lifespan, Using two or more languages, The bilingual mind and brain, Biculturalism / Personality, Special bilinguals, etc. There is also a section which lists all the interviews we have conducted with leading researchers in the field as well as with bilingual writers and poets.

We have constantly tried to diversify our posts over the years and have increased our offerings on the bilingual brain, multilingualism, bilingual infants and children, second language learning, bilingual education, bilingual literature and poetry, special bilinguals, as well as children with special education needs.

Both Aneta Pavlenko and I strongly believe that as active researchers, we should inform the general public of the research in our domain. We have tried to do this in a clear, comprehensible and balanced manner. Some topic areas are strongly debated in the field and we have reported on them in our blog. Among these we find the debate on the cognitive advantages in bilinguals (see here and here), the recent polyglot hype (see here) as well as how bilinguals deal with moral dilemmas (see here). If a domain needed specialized expertise (e.g. the bilingual brain), we often called on experts in the field and interviewed them (an example can be seen here).

Looking back on all 132 posts, we see that some posts have been more successful than others. Four of them have been read by more than 50,000 people and are worth listing in rank order: Change of language, change of personality; Those incredible interpreters; Bilinguals in the United States; and What are the effects of bilingualism. One post is very special to us as it is an interview of a wonderful colleague, Dr. Lu-Feng Shi, on how bilinguals are assessed in a clinical setting (see here). He left us only six months after its publication and we will miss him dearly. Other posts also share a special place in our heart, either because they deal with exceptional people we greatly appreciate (e.g. The Rose; Living in parts, dreaming of wholeness) or they mention an important event in our own lives (e.g. Born to be bilingual).

We wish to thank all the colleagues we have consulted when writing our posts as well as those who have accepted to be interviewed. Our heartfelt thanks also go to our readers who have given us their support over the years. 

We will now take a short break but we will come back very soon and continue writing posts on the reality of living with two or more languages. 

For a full list of "Life as a bilingual" blog posts by content area, see here.