Bilingual in Chile – An Impossible Dream?
by Professor Thomas Jerome Baker
Review by Owen Jones
‘Bilingual in Chile’ is a technical treatise, I hope that’s the correct phrase, something that I haven’t read for several decades, but I wanted to read it because it is on a subject that has been close to my heart for even several decades longer than that.
That makes sixty years, right? Well, in that case I’m six years out, but it’s close enough. You see, I grew up in an English-speaking family in Wales, where it was compulsory to learn Welsh in school. So when I started school at six years of age, I couldn’t understand why they were making me speak gobbledygook.
I learned that it was the original language of my country, liked my teacher and so had fun learning it. I had no idea at the time, what an effect starting to learn languages from such an early age would have upon my life.
I have been fluent in seven languages and am now learning Thai and have lived abroad comfortably for half of my life. Starting to learn languages so young dissolved the fear of doing it before I remember having it, but perhaps I never did.
I have never seen what I just expressed anywhere except in Baker’s book and he makes the point very cogently.
Baker uses copious references and block quotes from other experts in the field to support his theories, proposed solutions and ideas, in a way that makes the flow of his argument easy to follow.
I have some knowledge of schooling in Thailand and can see how much, if not all, of this book can be applied to this country as well.
If you are interested in languages, teaching them or speaking them, or in their relevance to a local or even national economy, then I am sure that you will find ‘Bilingual in Chile – An Impossible Dream?’ interesting.
My only criticisms do not concern the content of ‘Bilingual in Chile – An Impossible Dream?’, but of the format and they make the book unnecessarily confusing.
Firstly, in the foreword, Baker refers to the publication as a book, but within the book, he refers to some chapters as posts, betraying the possible original construction of the book. This is further borne out by adverts appearing in the post-chapters, which would be more fitting at the very end of the book. Secondly, there seem to be three different covers.
Review only, of ‘Bilingual in Chile’ by +Owen Jones