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Does Bilingualism Cause Language Delay?

  •  Posted on May 15, 2013  by  | No Comments

Parents that are bilingual tend to want to pass the gift of a second language onto their new born child. With so many benefits of languages in the 21st century and the growing demand for them only expanding, why wouldn’t you want to share this wisdom with your offspring? Well in reality some parents actually worry that teaching or even speaking to a new born child in two different languages can cause confusion and consequently lead to language delay.


It has been known in the Western world that speech specialists and even doctors have advised parents who are bilingual, that they should deter from speaking two languages in front of their child/children. But why you ask? Well according to a percentage of the population, speaking more than one language in front of children that are learning to talk is confusing and will put a dent in their development. As a result many parents have been reluctant to try and converse with their babies in more than one language. The language that is less commonly used in cultural surroundings is suggested to be dropped from teaching.


However if we flash back to reality for a second – this does not need to be acted upon. The assumption that bilingualism causes communication disorders such as language delay is one that is incorrect as research shows that bilingual children begin to speak in exactly the same time frame as monolingual children. The only difference between the two is that bilingual children have the advantage of a second language – not bad for a beginner! Colin Baker, a researcher in childhood bilingualism states that raising children bilingually is sometimes believed to cause language delay, though evidence does not support this. [1] Raising children bilingually neither increases nor does it reduce the chance of language disorder or delay.


The most common difficulty a child who is learning two languages at once faces is the minor confusion between which language to choose from in speech. However, this is extremely common and can even carry on throughout life – but even this (speaking two languages at once) can be seen as a stroke of genius. It is also important to remember that regardless of how many languages a child may be learning to speak, each and every learning ability is different for each individual.


Have you ever faced any language difficulties when teaching an offspring a foreign language?




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