Bilingualism, Multiculturalism & Second Language Learning // Review

Article excerpt

Wallace Lambert has been a major figure in Canadian psychology since the mid - 1950s. In a publishing career that has spanned almost 40 years, his work has influenced almost every aspect of the psychology of language, in particular the psychology of bilingualism and second language acquisition. While his major disciplinary perspective has derived from social psychology, he has also carried out neuropsychological and experimental research on language processing among bilinguals. Outside of academe, he is perhaps best known for his in - depth longitudinal evaluation (with G.R. Tucker) of the St. Lambert French immersion program. It is no exaggeration to say that this evaluation radically changed the face of Canadian education, as evidenced by the more than 300,000 Canadian students currently enrolled in some form of immersion program.

This volume offers a fascinating and highly readable retrospect and update on the research and theoretical work of Lambert and his doctoral students, most of whom have also become leaders in their respective fields of psychological inquiry. As one reads through the ten chapters written by former doctoral students and colleagues of Lambert, followed by his concluding chapter, the scope and immense impact of Lambert's work become clear. The book represents a comprehensive treatment, from several disciplinary perspectives, of the three areas outlined in the title. It is also notable that despite the common influence of Lambert's work on all contributors, there is minimal overlap between the chapters. The volume is opened by Donald Taylor's chapter on "The social psychology of racial and cultural diversity: Issues of assimilation and multiculturalism." Taylor's major thesis is that two central factors can account for the maintenance of heritage culture and language among minority groups: first, in the economic and political sphere, heritage culture maintenance is a collective reaction to perceived social injustice; more fundamental, however, according to Taylor, is the role of cultural maintenance in providing a framework for self - identity. In his reaction to this chapter, Lambert notes that by linking heritage culture maintenance with the psychology of self - identity, Taylor has skilfully wrestled the issue of assimilation versus multiculturalism out of the hands of sociologists, economists, and political scientists. He also notes that recentwork that he and Taylor have carried out among a variety of ethnocultural groups in North America suggests that minority parents and their children can successfully juggle a heritage culture along with the culture(s) of their adopted land.

In the second chapter, Howard Giles and Nikolas Coupland review language attitude research based on the matched guise technique introduced by Lambert and his colleagues in 1960. They focus specifically on recent gerontological research that has made use of this technique. Robert Gardner continues the focus on attitudes and motivation in the third chapter which focusses specifically on second language learning. Once again, the "insider's" view of the evolution of research and theory in this area makes for interesting reading. Gardner points to the continued theoretical relevance of constructs and distinctions discussed by Lambert from the early 1960s: for example, the integrative/instrumental distinction in motivational orientations, the roles of intergroup attitudes, anomie and self - identification in second language development, notions of additive and subtractive bilingualism etc. In his comments on this chapter, Lambert highlights the fact that Gardner and his colleagues have fully documented the independence of the socialmotivational cluster from the aptitude - intelligence cluster of variables that affect second language learning. The excitement of Gardner and Lambert's early research on these phenomena is clearly conveyed in Lambert's account; for example, the fact that once they got rolling they "tested everything that moved" (p. …