Living Languages
Multilingualism across the Lifespan
by Tracey Tokuhama-Espinosa
December 2007, 296pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-275-99912-4
$65, £50, 57€, A90
eBook Available: 978-0-275-99913-1
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

This book is about multilingualism across the lifespan: how languages are learned at different life stages, why this is so, and how to take advantage of this knowledge to more efficiently integrate them into our lives.

Globalization is on everyone’s tongue, and the discussion is not only limited to economic exchange, but expands to the intermingling of cultural values. To be truly successful in the international arena, whether as an immigrant, student, businessperson, or tourist, openness toward other cultures is vital and the most obvious door to those cultures is through language. Learning a second language is no longer an option for many, it is both a survival tool and an opportunity. This book is an aid to parents, educators, researchers, and individuals who want facts about foreign language learning in order to apply concrete tools to maximize their potential in this area, independent of their age.

This book examines the various factors in successful multilingualism across the lifespan, discussing groups such as those lucky enough to enjoy bilingualism from birth to those who become foreign language learners in adulthood. Special attention is paid to a critique of the academic critical years concept and the question, how long does it take a non-native speaker to become fluent? While many are concerned with bilingualism, millions around the world live with three or more languages. For those considering adding a third language, this book looks at the benefits of bilingualism that transfer to trilingualism. Finally, the book establishes methods for teaching foreign languages and hints for home support that maximize each person’s potential for languages.


"Tokuhama-Espinosa (director, Center for Educational Development, Ecuador) provides a resource for parents and teachers to explore linguistic, sociocultural, and neuropsychological theories of second- and third-language acquisition, including a discussion of seven life stages from birth to adulthood....This book is an invitation to parents, teachers, and policy makers to extend multilingualism across the lifespan. Recommended."—Choice, September 1, 2008

"Living Languages is a comprehensive text that provides not only information about the various factors in successful language learning, but also a unique window into the influence and impact of language learning on the author's own multilingual family. This is the author's third book in which she has chosen to explore the benefits of bilingualism/multilingualism....Her book is based on over 700 studies and her own family's interactions with language development. Many of the questions that are addressed in the book were posed while she was conducting workshops with parents and educators in 15 countries, so they address practical as well as theoretical concerns."—MultiCultural Review, September 1, 2008

"Living Languages is aimed at parents, teachers and researchers with its practical information on the language learning process, the key factors in raising multilingual children, as well as the impact of the environment (family, schools and society) on the language-learning process.... Living Languages encourages families and educators to continue in their goal of providing children in families, schools and communities with as much language opportunities and exposure as possible, no matter how young or old they happen to be. We are shown that the lifelong emotional, social, and global benefits of multilingualism outweigh the efforts in the long run."—Multilingual Living Magazine, August 1, 2008

"With epic knowledge and the clear, inviting language of a storyteller, Tracey Tokuhama-Espinosa shows the way for parents and teachers to invite young people to extend their reach as human beings through learning multiple languages. This book makes acquisition of multiple languages a part, rather than apart from natural human development. It reminds us that learning a second language-and even a third-is a way to become a better thinker, a more confident learner, a more flexible communicator, a more adept problem solver-to become more fully human."—Carol Ann Tomlinson, The University of Virginia, author of The Differentiated Classroom: Responding to the Needs of All Learners

"Parents who have a burning passion for learning foreign languages and who want their children to learn foreign languages, don't let another day go buy without buying Living Languages--Multiculturalism Across The Lifespan. Tracey Tokuhama-Espinosa is not just another foreign language teacher. She is an exceptionally well trained researcher/writer with a impressive list of publications and experiences who deftly integrates multilingual, multicultural and brain-based learning. It is parents, she contends, who guide young children in the acquisition of a foreign language during the first years of life and whose influence is felt throughout the lifespan as multiple languages and cultures are learned. For those new to brain-based learning applied to foreign language acquisition, be prepared for multiple ah-ha's."—Jerome Halverson, Ph.D., Senior Core Faculty, Capella University

"Living Languages is an excellent resource for parents and teachers seeking to promote both a love of language among children as well as a fundamental understanding of the nature and functions of multilingualism. The author takes relatively complicated concepts and presents them in a clear, concise and engaging manner; however, at the same time, she is able to demonstrate their depth and complexity. The successful combination of linguistic, political, and social factors affecting language, and the relevance of this topic to both educators and parents from different backgrounds and levels of implementation within multilingualism show that one needn't be a linguist to enjoy learning from this book."—Salman Amjad, Language teacher, Anglo-American School of Moscow

"Did you know that speaking several languages may render you more creative? That it will expand your mental horizon? That it will enhance your intellectual capacity to emphasize with members from other cultures? Did you know that multilinguals even score higher in proficiency tests held in their own mother tongue than their monolingual mates? Parting from her personal experience, Tracey Tokuhama gives a comprehensive insight to multilingulism, together with the most interesting and surprising tips for becoming a multilingual speaker--from neurophysiologic, cultural, psychological, and sociologic theory to best practices--and clues about how this will enrich your and your family's life. More questions on multilingulism? Find the answers in this great book."—Ulrike Kudrass, Translator, German Embassy

"This major work is essential reading for researchers, education practitioners, leaders and all parents serious about their children's language acquisition. A language toolbox for all: parents, to know their role and responsibilities, teachers to know what works and what doesn't and educational leaders to provide policies, curricula and professional development (and to acquire budgets that permit these!)."—Steve Robbins BA PGCE MSc, Deputy Head of Primary, Le College Du Leman International School, Switzerland

"Refreshing, readable, and upbeat, this research synthesis is a cutting-edge overview of the process of acquiring multiple languages, celebrating humans' use of multiple languages in home, school, and societal contexts. This book can serve as an excellent textbook for courses on language acquisition, as well as a delightful and important reference for families raising their children in multilingual contexts. This is a timely reference for inter-connecting, global life in the 21st century."—Dr. Virginia P. Collier, Emerita Professor of Bilingual, Multicultural, ESL Education, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia

"Tracey Tokuhama-Espinosa's book makes excellent reading. It is both optimistic in its celebration of multilingualism and cautious in its assessment of recent research. Its up-to-date information and authentic anecdotes will make it a useful tool for all parents and educators dealing with the issue of multilingualism in the family."—Edith M. Harding-Esch, Senior Research Fellow in Language Education, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, UK

"This book is about the expansion of human potential. Living Languages is an invaluable resource for parents and teachers involved in the education of bilingual and multilingual children. Tracey Tokuhama-Espinosa seamlessly blends the experiences of children and families who are living in multilingual contexts with a lively and engaging account of the relevant research. Inspirational and informative in equal measure, Living Languages provides a roadmap for the education of children in an increasingly globalized world where population mobility has reached unprecedented levels."—Jim Cummins, Modern Language Centre, University of Toronto
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