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Baetens Beardsmore, Hugo

  1. Ofelia García

Published Online: 5 NOV 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781405198431.wbeal0070

The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics

How to Cite

García, O. 2012. Baetens Beardsmore, Hugo. The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 5 NOV 2012


I first met Hugo Baetens Beardsmore (1942) in New York City in the mid-1980s. He had come to meet with Joshua Fishman and others, but also to visit bilingual schools. Although I had learned much about bilingualism from Baetens Beardsmore's work and especially his Bilingualism: Basic Principles, it was his watch that impressed me most. I accompanied him then on a visit to a bilingual elementary school. There, Hugo sat in children's chairs, as children and teachers spoke Spanish and English. But he was wearing a special watch that he casually displayed for the children. Eventually they noticed and started asking questions. Baetens Beardsmore urged them on, speaking in English, as well as French and Dutch, each time showing them one more fascinating aspect of the special watch. And the children responded by not only speaking English and Spanish, but also by trying out words in his languages. Hugo did not shower the children with questions. Instead, he waited until they asked him questions to which he answered with thorough insights, important details, and yet humor. For me, it is this image of Hugo Baetens Beardsmore (or H.BB. as his students fondly call him) that has forever been imprinted in my memory— a giant able to adapt to small chairs, an intellectual able to have fun with children, a scholar and a profoundly humane person, a humble and engaging person. And precisely these are the qualities that have made Baetens Beardsmore's scholarly work so important, from the very early Bilingualism: Basic Principles (1982) to his recent contributions to Bilingual Education in the 21st Century (García, 2009).


  • bilingualism;
  • language in the classroom;
  • multilingualism