Wednesday, January 26, 2011

2 book reviews for Bilingual Siblings: Language Use in Families

Multilingual parents are often surprised by the different language preferences of their children. Suzanne Barron-Hauwaert shows just how dynamic the family language situation becomes with the arrival of younger siblings, thus putting the finger on an under-researched area of bilingualism research. She combines academic rigor with extensive hands-on experience and manages to present the issues with vivid descriptions and insightful comments and suggestions. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in bilingual and multilingual families.
Dr.Jean-Marc Dewaele, Birkbeck College, University of London

A resounding cheer goes out to Suzanne Barron-Hauwaert for writing this insightful, informative and truly essential book for families raising more than one child in more than one language. This book is packed with research, family profiles, an overview of various myths, personal stories, and much, much more. It is an amazing resource for anyone eager to understand why bilingual children in the same family develop along uniquely individual linguistic paths. My only regret is that this book was not around many years ago before my three children were born.
Corey Heller, Editor-In-Chief of Multilingual Living Magazine

Monday, January 17, 2011

Bilingual Siblings book published

The book cover of my new book
Bilingual Siblings: Language Use in Families

Available now  to order via Multilingual Matters
(20% discount for online orders)
or through

To contact Suzanne about reviewing the book please email:

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Suzanne's book on Bilingual Siblings

My second book on Bilingual Siblings is being published this week, after almost three years of research, writing, re-writing and proof-reading it’s finally available for pre-orders via Multilingual Matters, otherwise it will shortly be available to buy via
Language Use in Families
Suzanne Barron-Hauwaert
Taking a different perspective to traditional case studies on one bilingual child, this book discusses the whole family and the realities of life with two or more children and languages. What do we know about the language patterns of children in a growing and evolving bilingual family? Which languages do the siblings prefer to speak to each other? Do the factors of birth order, personality or family size affect language use? This book unveils the reality behind life with bilingual siblings.

Chapter 1 – What do we know about Bilingual Families?
Chapter 2 – The Growing and Evolving Family
Chapter 3 – The Sibling Relationship
Chapter 4 – Age Difference, Family Size & Language Orders
Chapter 5 – Gender & Language
Chapter 6 – Birth Order: A Child’s Position in the Family
Chapter 7 – Individual Differences: Same Languages, Different Language Histories
Chapter 8 – Bilingualism and Twins, Adoption, Single parents & Step-families
Chapter 9 – Five Themes on Family Language Use
Paperback ISBN No: 9781847693266 C. £18.95 / US$29.95 / CAN$29.95 / €24.95

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas update on the Hauwaert family

This has been a year of change for all of us, we moved down the road from our old summer house (with the blue shutters) to the Logis Vert (green shutters, of course!). The work to restore, stabilize and renovate the ruined house took about two and half years. We had three teams of workers and friends helping us out. One project was digging up the old stone floor and installing underfloor heating and then re-tiling with handmade terracotta tiles. Another was scraping off the old plaster and covering walls with three layers of natural hemp insulation and tradtional whitewash. Likewise, we redid the roof and added in windows at the back, where there were none. As the heavy work ended I was busy this year tinting windows to a traditional dark colour inside, painting the windows green outside, varnishing wood staircases and floors and ceilings and choosing paint and curtains. For anyone who has restored a house you’ll understand the high levels of stress the whole process creates, even when everything is on track! For anyone thinking about it, beware!! It takes over your life…and you talk about nothing but taps, screws, tiles or double glazing, even to total strangers!!!

View of the Logis

Jacques 40th birthday party at Logis Vert
We officially moved in on Jacques’ 40th birthday in August and celebrated with all the French family and my sister and her family, who were here on holiday. We cooked Mexican for 22 and all wore green for the occasion!! We bought Jacques a metal-detector because he was looking for treasure all the way through the work; nothing found so far….but you never know!!
Marc has grown a lot, way over my head now, and his voice has broken already. He’ll be 14 in January. He’s working hard at school in certain subjects, like maths. Homework is more challenging, hard to get him off Facebook or YouTube and he tends to start working at 9pm! He helps Jacques a lot with heavy DIY work and has learnt to make walls and dig holes! Nina started secondary school in September, she’s also growing fast and has same shoe size as me now. She loves school, works hard and is class rep. She’s still doing horse-riding on weekends and chilling out with her girly friends. Gabriel is also growing older, although he is still very cute and the baby of the family. He has a great male teacher this year, who is pushing him to read more. He loves football and plays twice a week. Sadly, he just discovered Santa doesn’t exist…so this year will be less make-believe, but he is enjoying being ‘grown-up’ and allowed to stay up till midnight on xmas eve!!
As for us, Jacques is still working for the same American company, he works from home two or three days a week now, good when he was overseeing the Logis project. My second book, on Bilingual Siblings, is published this month. I have several minor projects; teaching, writing, voluntary work, but nothing major, so next year I’m hoping to find a full-time job teaching English or possibly another book.

Here is the link for my book, via the publishers, Multilingual Matters (who give 20% discount)

Wherever you are in the world, have a wonderful christmas and good luck for 2011!!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Sloppy speech

Ask anyone in an OPOL family if they only speak their own language to their kids and they’ll assure you ‘Yes, absolutely and the kids only reply in one language too!’, but add in a quiet observer and you’ll find it’s a different story. When we have guests visiting, who are not bilingual in French and English, their confused faces reveal how much we mix languages, often unconsciously. We all have a tendency to ‘drop’ in the odd word from the other language as and when it suits us, or we have a word that is easier to say! My sister and her family came to stay from England recently and proved this point in the following dialogues (taken from video footage):
Me: ‘Hurry up and get your bombe for horse riding, Nina!’ (Cousin looks horrified that we are taking along a bomb with us to horse riding session, bombe being French for horse-riding hat)
Gabriel: ‘I want a glace!’ (Aunt passes him a glass of water, which he refuses with angry face because he wanted an ice-cream, which is a glace in French)
Me: ‘So, Marc is going to collège in September…’ (Aunt who looks confused because for her college is at age 16 and Marc is only 13, but in France secondary school is called collège)
Nina: ‘We get the car here and the chauffeur takes us to school every day.’ (Uncle wonders how we have a personal chauffeur when he thought the kids took school bus, turns out that the school bus in French is a car.)

Your recipe or mine?

It was the smell of chips with salt and vinegar that did it. A van parked in the car park of our small French town was selling the traditional British meal of fish and chips to tourists and curious locals. I was transported back to Friday nights at my parents or my grandparent’s houses, going to the chip shop to buy greasy chips wrapped in newspaper, battered orange fish and a pot of mushy fluorescent green peas. Without thinking we ordered our dinner. Forget the healthy tuna salad I’d planned. Back home the kids wolfed the fish and chips down and told stories about how they always get free chips while waiting in the queue with Grandpa in Nottingham and remembered the tasty fish and chips that we ate on holiday in the Isle of Skye last year.
Living in France I love the local food and we generally eat French food, but there are days, like the fish and chip day, when a wave of homesickness for English food takes over and I’ll fry a big English Sunday morning breakfast, bake scones or make crumbles with custard. The kids are curious and go along with it, even if they do sometimes make comments together on how could Mummy possibly like strange things like Branston pickle, baked beans or Marmite. The kids are now old enough to cook and love to get messy in the kitchen. While I bake scones with Nina we chat about how my grandmother would make wonderful afternoon teas. I think how much language and cooking are linked, and the importance and passing on a heritage through food and cooking for others.
However, it’s not so simple in the OPOL family. I have my memories of food and cooking with my English mother and grandmother and Jacques has his memories of home cooking in his French kitchen. But what happens when we both try to pass on our traditions with the same food item? Take potatoes, for example, a staple of both our childhood dinners. For Jacques it is purée, a smooth blend of potatoes with generous doses of cream, egg yolk and grated nutmeg stirred in, while for me it is mashed which is more lumpy and made with less butter and milk. Both are good in their own way. Or apple pie, for me, chunks of stewed apple enclosed in buttery pastry top and bottom, for him, fine slices of apple arranged in a circle on just one thin layer of sweet pastry. Which one do the kids prefer? It’s hard for them to choose without upsetting one parent.
Compromises have to be made too, or we mix the two cultures. As we prepare for a big family dinner or birthday meal there is a natural tendency to mix culinary tastes, like, a French salad to start, with goats cheese, then steak, cooked rare, with roasted parsnips and English gravy, followed by a plate of French cheese and then an apple and blackberry crumble with custard for dessert. Does the OPOL family become a new mélange of food heritage by default? Are we creating a new type of fusion food? As I clear the empty plates away, I wonder what food memories our children have when they are older and what kind of food they will cook in their own kitchens…

Friday, May 21, 2010

All about....Growing up with two languages and cultures - Monday 7th June in Civrary

The time has certainly flown this year and we are already at the final seminar in our popular "All About...." series for 2009/2010! We've covered the basics of the education system from Maternelle through to Collège as well as an introduction to bilingualism.

For our final seminar, we're looking at the implications for children growing up in a second (or even third) culture and language, particularly where this is away from the parental cultural background. We'll be focussing on culture in schools and at home - how to balance the needs of both, especially as children grow and are exposed to increasing peer pressure. If you've ever wondered how your children would adapt to life outside France, whether to watch French or English television or how to introduce your own culture into the lives of your children, then this is the seminar for you.

We'll also be having a general Q&A on all aspects of bilingualism and multiculturalism so please send in any questions you have before the day.

You can send questions via this blog, email me at or via the Accents facebook page.

And of course, this will all be rounded off with the opportunity to have a light lunch at the Café and chat with the other parents. Hopefully the sun will be shining and we can make the most of living in France!

Look forward to seeing you all there!