I’ve been reading Ana Flores and Roxana Soto’s book 
Bilingual is Better as part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs Book Club. From the start, I found it really interesting to learn more about bilingualism in the United States. Although the authors focus primarily on bilingualism from the perspective of Latino families in the United States, much of what they said also touched on general topics such as the benefits of bilinguals, bilingualism and education and the interaction between bilingualism and cultural identity.These sorts of issues really spoke to me as I’ve talked on this blog about why my wife and I are bringing up our son using Welsh and English and my own sense of cultural identity.
Judging by the discussions that have taken place concerning the various chapters of Bilingualism is Better (see list at the end of this post), it is certainly a book that has had meaning for lots of people bringing up children bilingually in different countries around the world. In this penultimate post in the book club, I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to interview Roxana Soto about Bilingual is Better and more general questions to do with bilingualism in the United States. Here’s the interview…

Ana Flores

Dad’s the Way I Like It: Before you wrote Bilingual is Better, you had already been discussing topics such as bilingualism on the blog SpanglishBaby that you set up with your co-author Roxana Soto. How did writing about these issues on your blog compare with actually writing about them in your book?

Ana Flores:  It was actually a very natural progression, but one that felt a little bit more intimidating. I remember telling Roxana several times that when writing a blog post you don’t feel the same pressure as writing a book that someone paid money for. Even though we take our writing on the blog very seriously, the book required a lot more research and editing to make sure we could fit in all that we needed to say in a few hundred pages.

 

Dad’s the Way I Like It: How did you and Roxana decide what balance to strike between talking about your own experiences as bilingual parents and discussing general issues to do with bilingual parenting?

Ana Flores: We approached it the same way we approach the personal vs general issues in the blog because we wanted the book to be an extension of the blog. It’s easy to find books filled with research and reporting on the issue of raising bilingual kids, but we wanted people to connect with us because we’re not academic experts in the subject. We’re just two moms that are passionate about gifting our kids with a second language because it’s a matter that’s deeply personal and important to us.

Dad’s the Way I Like It: To what extent do you think attitudes to bilingualism in the United States have changed since you published Bilingualism is Better?

Ana Flores: That’s tough to measure. For sure we’ve seen a huge difference in attitudes towards bilingualism since we launched the blog. We won’t dare even assume that
SpanglishBaby has had that huge of an effect, but at least we were able to bring the conversation to a personal level that covers all bilingual parenting angles. And even though we focus on the Latino cultural experience, when it comes to the basics of learning two or more languages, we’ve always made sure it resonated with all audiences.
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Dad’s the Way I Like It: One of the great things that has come out of the discussions about Bilingualism is Better in the Multicultural Kid Bloggers Book Club has been the way in which so many people in different countries around the world have found the book to be very relevant to them. Since publishing the book, have you had much response from bilingual parents outside North America?

Ana Flores: Because we’ve always made an effort to make the bilingual parenting aspect of our blog as general as possible, we’ve always had readers from across the globe and that are raising children in multiple languages. The title of the book focuses much on the Latino parenting aspect of the discussion, that I for sure thought it would turn off other ethnicities or other cultures around the world, so it’s been great to see that the information is useful and relevant to all. Regardless of languages or boundaries, the parenting experience is universal.

 


Dad’s the Way I Like It:
 Finally, is there one lesson more than any other that you would like people to take from reading Bilingual is Better?

Ana Flores: That bilingualism is the biggest gift we can give our children. They are born with the innate capacity to learn as many languages as they are consistently exposed to. Why make that brain power go to waste? It’s really up to us.

If you want to join the discussion about ‘Bilingual is Better’, please feel free to have your say in the comments section below or on the Multicultural Kid Blogs ‘community’ on Google+.

 

Here are links to the previous Multicultural Kid Blogs Book Club posts and chapter discussions:


Chapter 1: The New Face of America (post by Spanish Playground)
Chapter 2: Why Bilingual is Better (post by Family on the Loose)
Chapter 3: Raising a Spanglish Baby (post by Spanglish House)
Chapter 4: Bilingual Education (post by For the Love of Spanish)
Next week Kid World Citizen will host a ‘wrap-up’ post.
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