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A Labor of Love   

Vice Provost and Dean for Undergraduate Education Jeanette Altarriba has co-edited a new book. 

ALBANY, N.Y. (July 25, 2018) – Jeanette Altarriba says the new textbook she co-edited on bilingualism was a “labor of love.”

This text, the second edition of An Introduction to Bilingualism; Principles and Processes, was just released and is published by Routledge Press. It is co-edited by Dr. Roberto Heredia.

Altarriba, vice provost and dean for Undergraduate Education, said editing the book was “a creative outlet and a passion, as research is really what stimulated me to enter academia and to pursue higher education. I always have to have some kind of research project or initiative going on in the background. It feeds my passion to learn, to know, and to create something original. We are thrilled to know that our work reaches audiences worldwide and that our first edition was so well-received across the globe. We hope to duplicate that reception with this new edition.”

Altarriba dedicated the book to her mother, Mercedes Aresenia Tutusaus de Altarriba, who passed away from cancer during the completion of the book, and did not get to see the final product.

“She was a champion of my work, particularly these edited volumes and she had the previous one proudly displayed in her home for others to see. She supported me throughout my entire career and was always proud of my achievements,” said Altarriba of her mother.

The first edition of the book did so well that the publisher asked Altarriba and Heredia to consider a second edition.

“Given that 10 years have passed since the publication of the first edition, many new findings have emerged related to bilingualism, language learning and applied issues, so a second edition seemed very timely,” she said.

Her co-editor inspired her to keep going. “I owe a lot to him,” Altarriba said. “These were difficult years, as my mother was struggling with her health, so the three or so years it took us to complete this volume was a labor of love supported by my dear colleague.”

Altarriba said the big debate right now is whether bilingualism in and of itself contributes to cognitive advantages throughout the lifespan. There are some arguments indicating that executive function and control are helped by managing and processing information in two languages, but these notions are debatable, she said. They form an important new chapter in the current edition.

The book’s chapters cover the latest advancements in psycholinguistics, neuroscience, creativity and executive functioning. Contributions that are new to this edition offer the most up-to-date research on lifespan and developmental issues. The work also provides insights into how human language is processed by all, not just by those who speak two or more languages.

The book is written for senior undergraduate and graduate courses in psycholinguistics and the psychology of language, especially those with an emphasis on bilingualism or second language learning.

“The world, and particularly our country, is becoming more and more diverse. Knowing another language is like looking through a window onto another world and another culture,” Altarriba said. Learning words in one language that do not translate to another language, expands one’s repertoire of ideas and concepts, she added. “By this measure, it is truly fascinating to know more than one language and to be able to communicate with more people across the world. This book should ultimately stimulate and motivate others to learn new languages.”

Altarriba, a professor of psychology and a Collins Fellow, directs the Cognition and Language Laboratory. She earned her master’s and doctorate degrees in cognitive psychology from Vanderbilt University, and has published extensively in the fields of bilingualism, language, memory and emotion.

Heredia is regents professor at Texas A&M International University, where he directs the Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory.

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