Can your child learn two or more languages at the same time?
The answer is yes.
It’s easier for kids to become bilingual when they learn languages at the same time, rather than learning later in life. However, their development may look a little different than a child learning only one language.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, or ASHA, says it may be easier for some kids and harder for others. They believe anyone can do it though.
- What will their development look like if they learn two languages at the same time?
According to ASHA, kids speak their first words by age 1. Two-word phrases are seen at age two in either one or both languages. ASHA says kids will mix grammar rules in each language or use both languages in one sentence. This is called code-mixing. Parents can freak out about this and may believe their kids are confused. They’re usually not. Code-mixing is normal for a child learning two languages. Over time they’ll learn to differentiate, and this will happen at a much faster pace than if they learn the language as an older child.
- Will they be delayed?
Some kids may experience the “silent period”. This is when they may not talk a lot. They’re just trying to differentiate languages and really learn by listening. If you’re worried about your child lagging behind, researchers have found that vocabulary sizes of bilingual kids are equal or greater than monolingual kids.
Like we said before, some kids may be better at this than others. If your child experiences issues, ASHA recommends you talk the language you know the best. Slowly start to do this so it’s not a shock to their system.
- Will they need outside help?
It could get confusing for a child to hear both languages without anyone helping them understand the difference. ASHA asks parents to work with their little ones as they develop. You could also use a speech-pathologist to help your child understand the differences of each language. Books, music, and videos could all be supplemental tools too.
- Will my child receive any other benefits from learning two languages?
Absolutely! They will have improved functioning skills. So, they’ll be able to think flexibly, have more self-control, and focus better than other kids. They could also achieve more in school, have better social skills, be more creative, and have better mental health in the future. To learn more about the benefits of bilingualism, click here for our article about it.
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