Will Learning Another Language Delay My Child’s Speech?

Guest Blog Submitted by our friends at Language Stars

Language Stars

It’s a common myth in the US that introducing an additional language to your child will cause them to develop speech delays or maybe even have academic difficulties.  We often forget that bilingualism is the norm in much of the world with over 66% percent of children growing up bilingual.  While many parents believe multilingual children will start speaking later than monolingual peers, extensive research has shown that children still start speaking within the normal milestones.  As Colin Baker, a prominent researcher in childhood bilingualism, noted in his book The Care and Education of Young Bilinguals:

“Raising children bilingually is sometimes believed to cause language delay, though evidence does not support this position. Raising children bilingually neither increases nor reduces the chance of language disorder or delay.”

In addition, once they do start speaking, they’ll start speaking in two languages – an amazing gift to your child!

Of course, you still want to check with a professional if you have any concerns.  Usually your pediatrician will know a good speech pathologist as the younger you catch something, the more easily you can address it.  However, you can rest assured that speaking or introducing another language to your child will not cause or exacerbate any issues.

Learning another language is even beneficial for many children that actually do have a diagnosed learning disorder.  Unless your child has a language processing disorder where there is an issue with the way the brain is receiving or producing language, language learning will actually help your child in life by giving them an additional skill to help overcome other obstacles.  The flexibility and advanced cognitive benefits created by learning another language may actually help your child deal with other learning issues.  As always, talk to your childcare professional about what the best approach is for your child.  North Shore Pediatrics has many specialists that can help you diagnose and treat a wide range of developmental issues with your child.

Language Stars teaches Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Italian, French, and German to children 1-10 in a fun and immersive environment.  To find out more information or register for programs call 866-55-STARS.

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Debunking Bilingualism Myths: Will My Child’s Language Be Delayed?

Parents may wonder, what are the benefits of exposing my child to two languages? Children who are exposed to multiple languages from an early age are more likely to become bilingual, and may have greater success with second language acquisition. As with any skill, the more exposure and practice a child has to a second language, the more successful he will be in both languages.

Myths of Learning Another Language in Childhood:

1. Speech and language acquisition will be delayed: This is not true; according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, language milestones are the same across languages. Children will likely develop their first word around 12 months, and will begin combining 2-words around 24 months. If children are struggling with language acquisition, it will likely manifest in all languages a child is exposed to.

2. Children will have a dominant language: This may be true; depending on when a child is exposed to a language, he may have a dominant language. If there is a delay in exposure to languages (e.g., parents speak one language but at daycare a child is exposed to another), children will likely be dominant in their parents’ language, but may still acquire a second language. For an older child who has been exposed to two languages equally, he may elect to have one dominant language or may use different languages depending on environments (e.g., one language at school/home).

3. One parent should speak one language, the other parent should speak another: This is not true; parents need to speak to their children in a language they are comfortable in. For example, children may learn a language inaccurately if a parent exposes a child a language that they themselves are not fluent in. In these cases it is best for families to stick to one dominant language or rely on other individuals who may be fluent in a desired language to help their children.

Click here to view our speech and language milestone infographic!