François Grosjean has an upcoming book called Bilingual: Life and Reality (Harvard Press). While I haven’t yet read it, I am looking forward to doing so. It’s written for the public, but I can also see using this book for an undergraduate course in bilingualism. The focus is on what’s true and what are myths about bilingualism. And it brings together educational, political, and practical issues around bilingualism. It’s based in theory and provides real-life examples. It sounds like it will be a wonderful book.
There are so many issues around bilingualism and what it is and isn’t. Even though about half of the world is bilingual there are many misconceptions about what it is and what it means to be bilingual. In the U.S. there are persistent myths about whether children will be confused by bilingualism or whether children can become delayed. There are also numerous stereotypes that play into people’s fears about speaking languages other than English. I often joke that in the U.S. school system we first eradicate children’s home languages and then in High School we expect kids to learn a second language in 5 hours a week or less. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense.