Opinions…everyone's got ‘em! Especially when it comes to your children and how to raise them. What about raising children to be bilingual? Too often, opinions on bilingualism are based on misconceptions or fear, or simply the unknown or unexperienced.
Whatever the reason, let’s clear the air and debunk the myths parents might have about raising their children to be bilingual.
Myth #1: If I raise my children in two languages, it will slow their development and speech.
Truth: The pace of a child’s development and ability to communicate is not influenced by the teaching of a second language. Studies have shown that the pace does not differ between monolinguistic children and bilingual children. The ability to speak and when that happens is unique to each child. Some children speak early and some start their linguistic journey “late.” Their development of speech, in any language, is on their time.
For example, many babies can sign just as well as speak their first words to communicate with their parents without issue. This shows that learning their first words in a second language, or third does not prohibit development.
Myth #2: Bilingual children will have trouble academically when they start school.
Truth: Research has shown that children who speak two languages have academic advantages including increased problem solving skills, stronger cognitive abilities and better multitasking skills.
Myth #3: Learning more than one language confuses a child.
Truth: Some bilingual children (as well as adults) may mix up grammar rules at times or use both languages to complete their thought but that shouldn’t be misunderstood as confusion. Studies show that children have an amazing ability to distinguish two languages —they naturally, from a young age, develop two separate linguistic systems in their brains. So you do not need to keep languages separate in your homes. Nor should you worry if your children mix languages as they speak ‒it’s a sign that both languages are active in the brain and naturally being engaged.
Myth #4: I’m not bilingual as a parent, so raising bilingual children doesn’t seem possible.
Truth: Sure, there may be challenges learning a second language but there are tools to help make learning fun! It’s never too late to start at home with songs and books to excite your family about embarking on a bilingual journey. Another way to bond is by interacting with your community, either in meetup groups or cultural centers and events. You will find that most native speakers or those fluent, are happy to share their heritage and offer support.
At Feppy Box, we talk a lot about how love removing barriers and fears families might have to raising a bilingual child by giving them tools to have fun with it! Our bilingual learning tools will encourage creativity and open- mindedness as you seek to raise inclusive, empathetic children.