Claude Hagège

The Child who speaks two languages Publication date : January 13, 2005

Under the right learning circumstances, most people are capable of becoming perfectly bilingual, yet in France people still cling to the belief that “the French aren't gifted for foreign languages” to explain the country's poor linguistic performance.

This book is not exclusively addressed to experts working in the area of language acquisition or to linguists specialising in other areas but who wish to learn more about bilingualism. It also targets parents and tries to reply to their questions: What is the best age to begin learning a second language? Which intellectual abilities are enhanced by bilingualism? What is the comparative difficulty of learning languages in early childhood and in adulthood? In which cases are learners liable to forget one of their languages - particularly their mother tongue?

In France, an interest in bilingualism is fairly recent, and no general pedagogical projects have seen the light yet. The ideas that Claude Hagège examines here should provide the foundations for developing a new type of education.

“The great lesson of this work is to remind us that understanding a second language is also the best way of understanding one's own language.” Le Figaro littéraire

Claude Hagège teaches at the Collège de France and was awarded a gold medal by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), in 1995. He is the author of Les Français et les Siècles (Editions Odile Jacob, 1987), Le Souffle de la langue: Voies et destins des parlers d'Europe (Editions Odile Jacob, 1992; paperback edition 2000) and Halte à la mort des langues (Editions Odile Jacob, 1996; paperback 2002).