FAQs Bilingual Development

Will learning more than one language slow down my child's language development?

No. There are some common myths about bilingual development. It is been said to many parents that bilingualism will cause children to develop language at a slower pace. But there is no scientific evidence to support that belief. Many children around the world learn more than one language at the same time and don't show language delays. Bilingualism can even help children in specific areas of knowledge known as metalinguistic awareness, which is the ability to think about language in the abstract.


My child is mixing the two languages when he / she speaks. Is this a sign of confusion?

No. Switching between languages is not a sign of confusion. People frequently use their bilingual skills in both languages when speaking, switching between languages. This is called code switching. It is a unique ability that bilingual speakers can use to communicate. The bilingual code change is very systematic. For example, code-switching occurs when doing so maintains the correct grammar in any language. People also change their code at socially appropriate times. Even children as young as two years can switch between their language options to match the language preferences of people with whom they talk.


What is the best way to raise a bilingual child?

There is no single right way to raise a bilingual child. Sometimes parents are advised to separate the two languages when talking to their children. For example, when parents talk with their children, one parent speaks one language and the other speaks in another. Although children can learn more than one language in this way, this is not the only option. Showing your child how to switch between languages can actually help to learn how and when to change the code. No matter which model you choose you and your family. What really helps is to surround your child with a rich and valuable language.

In general, children who grow up in the U.S. learn English quickly because they have been exposed. However, learning the language of the home can be more difficult. Unless children routinely participate in situations where they have to use their languages of origin, tend to lose control of those languages. It is important to offer children frequent opportunities to use their native language in meaningful contexts and enjoyable.


Are young children more capable of learning two languages than older children or adults?

Yes! All of us when we were babies we were able to differentiate between sounds of different languages. Within 10-12 months of age, we lose this remarkable ability unless we are raised in an environment where we can hear different languages. It is that bilingualism is like a muscle, the more you exercise, the better is developed. In this video, Dr. Patricia Kuhl of the University of Washington's Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences talks about the remarkable ability of young children to learn languages.



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