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By Donna Yee (October 5, 2007)

Altarriba Publishes New Book on Bilingualism

Jeanette Altarriba
Jeanette Altarriba

Three years ago, Professor of Psychology and then Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Jeanette Altarriba of UAlbany's College of Arts and Sciences, in collaboration with Robert R. Heredia of Texas A&M International University, conceived of the idea of a complete and comprehensive introduction to bilingualism due to the lack of texts available.

Altarriba has been working in the research field of bilingualism and second language processing for nearly 20 years.  The emergence of great interest in the study of bilingualism caused a need to understand how best to teach individuals many languages and how people represent these languages in memory.

Altarriba and her colleague wanted to create an introductory text about bilingualism similar to ones available for other subjects such as chemistry and anthropology.  The proposal for the text and selection of contributing authors began in 2004.  The result is An Introduction to Bilingualism: Principles and Processes, which will be published in October.

With an intended audience of undergraduates and graduate students, the text provides an overview of methods and theories used in the study of bilingualism.  Additionally, Altarriba feels this text can also be used as a reference manual for researchers in other fields, including linguistics, public policy, psychology, or education.

An Introduction to Bilingualism: Principles and Processes seeks to provide students with a global view of bilingualism and as such, covers a wide range of topics, including early childhood intellectual development, maturation of the bilingual brain, and social-cognitive challenges. Cognitive aging, communication disorders and sentence processing are other vital developing areas covered in the text.

Altarriba and Heredia look to send the message that bilingualism is becoming much more the norm than the exception. They feel that it is important for many reasons to have a basic background in the processes involved in being and becoming bilingual. Furthermore, both hope that this text brings attention to the need for integration of the study of bilingualism into the curricula of educational institutions, particularly since the United States is fast becoming a more multilingual and multicultural nation.


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