How does bilingualism affect language development?
We have consistently heard from parents about the concerns considering raising their children in a bilingual education:
Children may form speech delays because they become confused with which languages to use. As a result, they don't want to talk.
In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.
Most experts agree with this - research has shown that as early as six months old, a child can tell the difference between two languages. Even if confusion may exist, it is minimal, and the child quickly grows out of it.
As for speech delays, research has shown that bilingual education does not play a role. For the most part, speech delays are just as common in monolingual households as bilingual ones. There is also no indication that learning or growing up with two languages does not contribute to these delays. They happen, but they happen to everyone, no matter their lingual or cultural experience. Furthermore, if your child already has a speech delay, the facts also conclude that introducing a new language will not worsen the delays.
Children will grow up mixing the two languages up and thus won't be able to tell the two apart
The truth is, many children do tend to interchange vocabulary or languages in their daily speech. Experts mentioned that this is simply a standard part of a child's process in language development. Many would also point out that adult speakers are also often known to mix languages (i.e., Spanglish or Singlish) even if they've learned later in life. This may either result from a limited vocabulary in one language causing them to use from the other, or simply because they enjoy using the word or phrase.
The research around this subject and the anecdotal evidence indicate that bilingualism does not create speech delays or confusion. Parents can take a deep breath and relax as their child learns a new language. Just have fun with it, and the reward from it will be more than you expect.
AyiConnect is a platform to connect families with helpers who have a language specialty in addition to care. You can engage with them directly through self service or concierge service. Our concierge service can help busy families who don’t have time to search or need language assistance. Schedule a free consultation here for our concierge service, or download our app.