You’ve already heard all the great benefits of raising your child to be bilingual…but maybe you’ve heard some scary things, too? It’s natural to feel a little nervous: You want to make sure that language learning is right for your child! So let’s look at five common myths about bilingual children…and learn why you shouldn’t worry!
My child will have language delays! Bilingual kids generally become fluent as quickly as monolingual kids. In fact, learning two languages together can actually help your child learn both faster! Some bilingual children may take a little longer to start speaking than monolingual kids: It’s only temporary, and studies have shown that bilingualism isn’t the cause. So don’t worry: Your child will become a little parrot in both languages!
My child will mix up his languages! Actually, mixing languages is normal and harmless: It’s a good sign that your kid is exploring them (comparing sounds, vocabulary, grammar). Mixing is temporary and goes away when your child begins to gain more vocabulary in both languages and exposure to both. Is bilingualism a good idea? Mais oui!
It’s too late for my child to learn a new language! It’s great to begin language learning young, but it’s never too late! From birth until puberty, children learn languages in parallel, learning the second language alongside the first and speaking both like a native. After puberty, we simply learn languages differently, translating from the native language to the second. So you see, it’s never too late for your child—or you!
I have to speak the language first! Relax! You don’t need to teach your child the language…just support him! Monolingual parents just need to offer immersion activities and support along the way. Provide your child with fun multimedia resources (May we suggest Pilipop!), set some learning goals together, and ask him to teach you a little, too! You just might become bilingual yourself!
Language learning is natural, so my child doesn’t really need help! Bilingualism doesn’t happen like magic: Your child does need your help! Without discussion and clear goals, your child may be confused about the purpose of language learning. You can be there for your child by scheduling regular language time, guiding him through tablet learning, finding other speakers he can enjoy practicing with, and simply showing your pride as he learns! Like any other activity, your child needs a cheerleader to keep him going! Cheers!
Raising your child to be bilingual is an amazing experience you’ll both enjoy. With a little patience and a few helpful tips, you’ll be ready to start this adventure with no stress! So take a deep breath, get ready, and let the learning begin!