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5 Common Misconceptions About Bilingualism:

1. Introducing another language will slow their speech progress. False.

As a child is learning another language, there is a silent period. During this time, the child may use less of their primary language. The primary language will not be lost as long as it is reinforced and maintained.

2. My child will combine the two languages. True.

This is called interlanguage. You may observe your child combining both languages in phrases or sentences. It is recommended to continue use of the primary language spoken at the time. For example, if you are speaking Spanish and the child says, “quiero milk [want milk]” simply model the correct way to request for the item, “yo quiero leche [I want milk]”, maintaining the language spoken at the time.

3. I will confuse my child if I introduce them to another language. False.

When children acquire a second language, they will develop a skill called code-switching. This is a skill of switching between the two languages and understanding who and where one can be used. For example, your child will recognize that when they visit their grandparents house, they can speak Spanish and when they are at school, they can speak English.

4. My child will develop speech errors if I introduce a second language. False.

We call these differences. There are different phonemes (speech sounds) for each language. As the child learns the second language, they will recognize which phonemes are used in what language and which ones are not. This is common when a language other than English is the primary language. It is important to speak with a speech-language pathologist if you observe speech errors in both languages.

5. It is ok to teach your child a second language at any time. True.

You can learn a new language at any age! Children who acquire two languages at the same time are called simultaneous bilingual learners. They have a greater chance of reaching proficiency in each language as long as exposure is maintained and reinforced.


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