Year Two – Post 5 | Bilingual for Babies?
Sometimes bilingual parents worry that their child will develop a language-learning disorder. And sometimes parents who only speak one language wonder if it would benefit their child to learn another language when she is very young. Here are some facts about children who hear more than one language:
Your child is able to learn more than one language at a time. Citizens of many countries speak multiple languages starting at an early age. If your child is bilingual, she may develop Standard American English a little later because she is sorting out her sounds system and vocabulary, but she will more than likely catch up to her peers. Her bilingualism would not be the cause of her speech or language delay.
Bilingual children may blend the sounds and words from each language as they start to talk, but soon they will learn to sort out which sounds and words go with which language. They may continue to demonstrate some minor errors in sounds, but this shouldn’t interfere with their ability to communicate.
There may be some speech sounds used in one language and not the other, but by the age of three, your child will have figured out which sounds belong to which language. She will also learn that two words spoken differently can mean the same thing. This can increase a child’s “cognitive flexibility” which applies to the concept that more than one word can represent an object. This can be a brain booster but it is only relevant if the caregivers are speaking the language in the home or the child’s school. Memory is important in learning a language and if the child is not regularly speaking and comprehending the second language, eventually she will forget the words and rules of that foreign language. The most important aspect of learning any language is to read, talk and experience stimulating activities to enhance your child’s development.
– Kathryn Thorson Gruhn, MA CCC-SLP, author of My Baby Compass series