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Simultaneous Bilingualism

Simultaneous bilingualism is when children develop two languages at the same time. They usually have exposure and opportunities to use both languages, and some preschool children can use both at appropriate levels. A child who is simultaneously bilingual usually goes through the same process of language learning as a child who learns each language separately. This process of language learning can be divided into phases. Children who speak more than one language can demonstrate code-switching, which is the use of more than one language in coversation.

Birth to Three Years (Early Phase)

Bilingual children combine parts of one language with the other.

  • By age one, bilingual children speak their first words just like other children who learn only one language.
  • By age two, they can use two-word phrases. ("Car go")
  • By three years, they can understand spoken language and have developed basic grammatical rules. Children at this age can respond to others, make requests, issue commands, get the attention of others, and assert their rights.

Three to Four Years (Middle Phase)

The phonology (sounds in a language) is well developed when the child is four years old. As they develop their language, the length of their sentence increases. They begin to ask "wh" questions (what, who, where, when, and why), and use these questions to learn about the world. Some children talk to themselves while they are playing (private speech). Children in the middle phase can have appropriate and effective conversations, and they can correct themselves if they are not understood. If they do not understand what someone says, they can ask for clarification.

Five to Six Years (Later Phase)

By six years, bilingual children are using most of the sounds in their languages and are creating longer and more complex sentences in both languages. In both languages, vocabulary continues to develop. It is typical for children to mix grammatical rules and words from both languages in the same sentence.

How to Raise a Bilingual Child

How to Raise a Bilingual Child:

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, there are a few ways to teach children to speak more than one language.

  • Parents should use two languages from the beginning.
  • Use only one language at home. Your child can learn the second language at school.
  • Give your child opportunities to use both languages in everyday situations.
  • Read to your child in both languages. Audiotapes, CDs, and DVDs in both languages are also recommended.


Learning two languages does not cause speech or language problems. There are children all over the world who learn more than one language and develop skills just like the child who only speaks one language. If your child is having trouble communicating, it is best to talk to them in the language you are most comfortable with.

More Sources on How to Raise Your Bilingual Child

Here is a great source with 100 tips on how to raise your bilingual baby:

Here is a source with 10 tips on promoting speech and language:

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