Bilingual Cake ebook

An different way to think about bilingual families


I have been procrastinating on this for too many years. In the spring of 2020 I am finally publishing the book version of my Bilingual Cake talk.

What on earth is Bilingual Cake?

This is the story.

Back in 2011 I was at the data analysis stage of my PhD project here in London, UK. I had been studying how bilingual parents and children really use their languages at home. I had made discoveries that had challenged much of what I though I knew about bilingual parenting.

Back then I had thought I knew rather a lot about bilingual parenting. 

I had been reading research on bilingualism for well over a decade. I was a mum of trilingual children aged 8 and 10. Their Finnish was so good that I was hiding it from other bilingual families to avoid embarrassment and I certainly was not going round telling anyone that their Italian was as good! I was doing well and I was confident with my bilingual parenting.

It had not always been that way. When my younger child was 3 she almost lost her Finnish. I created a method for brinding her Finnish back - it had taken me a few weeks to turn things around once I put my mind to it. But I knew that personal experience does not make an expert. Real expertise requires more. Much more. Like a PhD project, for example. 

It is good to be challenged. I knew that resolving this problem required a proper shake up of received wisdom, my own fixed ideas included. 

What was the problem I wanted to resolve?

It was this: Why do so many bilingual children not speak the language their parent speaks to them? 

Well done me. In 2011 I had succeeded in shaking up my beliefs big time and it was a crisis. 

Things that were generally believed about bilingual parenting were simply not true looking at my research evidence. By that time I had lived a year without anything to replace the lost certainties. It did not feel good.

What if I could not find the solution?

I had embarked on this PhD project with the purpose of finding out why some bilingual families succeed in bilingual parenting with apparent ease, while most bilingual parenting attempts runs into problems early on. I know you have seen this too. For example, imagine two families. In both families there is a Finnish mum, a British dad and a 4-year old child. In both families the mum says that she has always spoken Finnish to the child while the dad speaks English.

Yet I could hear how in one family the child spoke Finnish quite well and in the other family the child had not spoken Finnish at all since they were 2-years-old.

How is this possible? What does it depend on? 

I had seen tens of families in my own community abandon bilingual parenting when children just would not speak the Finnish language - no matter how much their parent insisted on speaking Finnish to the children. 

As I was analysing the parent-child conversations my thinking was that if I could discover the hidden reason for this, then it would be possible to teach all bilingual parents how to succeed in raising happily bilingual children.

In 2011 I made that breakthrough and I wanted to communicate it to bilingual parents.

That is how the Bilingual Cake talk was born. For years people have been asking me to publish it as a book. That is what the ebook is about.

More news coming very soon.

Bilingual Cake ebook

The manuscript for the Bilingual Cake book has been sitting in my virtual desk drawer for two years. I'm a complete wimp for not publishing it. I never think it's good enough. I always think I'll need to change this and improve that. Excuses. 

Enough! This spring I will publish it and you will decide.

While we are at it, let's do more.

Do you run a community language school in London?  

I'm doing free Q&A sessions for community language schools in London in 2020

Would like me to come over to help out with some bilingual parenting troubles?

Then drop me an emai at soile ( at )