Myths about bilingual children

Sometimes when parents are talking to me about sending their kids to my language lessons, they seem quite concerned that it would not be beneficial for their children to learn a second language at a young age. They explain to me that it might confuse their kids or obstruct their native language abilities. My usual response: Kids who can speak two languages experience an advanced language development, become better creative thinkers and gain a better awareness of other cultures and new languages. To them it always will be easier to learn an additional language. For kids learning a new language is fun. Languages open a very important door to the world.

Being bilingual myself I always was a little confused about their concerns. What could be wrong about learning a second language?

Then I realized that there are countless myths surrounding bilingual children.children-masks

One of the most common ones: Bilingual children mix up languages!

This idea comes from the past. Just recently it was found out that even very young children can differ between different sounds/ languages. Children are very sensitive to sounds and now it is suggested by scientists that children can separate between languages from a very, very early age.

Personally I mix up German and English in only a few situations. My brain seems to need a couple of seconds to change back to English for example when I have spoken to my parents for hours on the phone.

So being a little confused after a German lesson is quite normal. Therefore confusion should not be seen as a bad thing but rather as a good sign. Your child is fully embracing the language challenge and she or he can’t get the new words out of her/his head.

Can it cause a delayed development?

Well, of course NOT! Learning a second language makes your mind explode (and I mean this in a good way). You give your child the opportunity to learn about another culture and different customs at a very young age. What a wonderful chance to see the world with open eyes! Rather then delay your child’s development learning a new language will boost it!

Research also suggests that learning a second language as a child does NOT cause speech delays.

baby-looking-at-the-bookMy child is already six years old. It’s too late to start teaching them a second language.

NO. It’s never too late. NEVER! Kids love to learn and especially before their teenage years it is easier for them to pick up a new language- simply because learning is not seen as a dreaded activity but rather as a fun journey.

And the final myth:

Children learn a new language very quickly.

That’s both true and not true. Kids learn very quickly but need a lot of encouragement and patience. Learning a second language shouldn’t be a chore but rather an enjoyable journey.

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