You’ve probably read an article or two before about raising a bilingual child, and unlike some of those articles, we’re going to be as up-front with you as possible—we know that raising a bilingual child isn’t always the easiest thing in the world!
But, we definitely think (and hope you agree) that it’s something that will benefit your child forever! As a parent who’s considering raising their child to be bilingual, we bet you have a ton of questions racking your brain—and we don’t blame you! It’s a new process, it’s a little tricky, and you want to make sure that you’re teaching your child in the best way possible! There are lots of myths out there about raising a child to be bilingual—most of that comes from some of the early ideas that being bilingual was a bad idea for children. Raising bilingual kids is considered to be positive and beneficial (research shows that bilingual children often have better literacy skills, I.Q.s, concentration, attention, multi-tasking skills, and more), but you probably still have questions about it. No worries—we’ve got you covered. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about raising a bilingual child here. Check it out!
Is Speaking a Combo of Both Languages OK? It is! A lot of people think that if a child is mixing up two languages that they’re probably confused or overwhelmed. But, that’s not always the case! It’s normal for bilingual children to mix up words (kids who speak just one language do it, too!) and it doesn’t mean anything’s wrong. This just goes hand-in-hand with learning two languages at once and understanding how each language fits into their daily lives. Of course, if you find that this language mixing is affecting your child’s speech or development, maybe think about consulting a speech specialist.
Will My Child Have Speech Issues if They’re Bilingual? They shouldn’t! There’s no link between being bilingual and having speech issues. According to lots of studies, being bilingual can actually improve cognition and speech in children—it can even help strengthen their I.Q.s and help them with other areas they might be struggling with, like concentration or multitasking. It’s even said that bilingual children (and people) are thought to have denser grey matter, too which can help them process language, boost their attention span, and even store memory more efficiently. Overall, bilingual children can expect to have advantages in things like:
Focus + Attention
Problem and Puzzle Solving
Greater Literacy Proficiency
Is My Child Going to Be Confused All the Time if They’re Bilingual? No way! There’s a common myth out there that says children who are bilingual are overloading and overworking their brains. You know that saying “why do two things poorly when you could do one thing exceptionally?” This isn’t at all how being bilingual works. Our brains are powerful—they have the ability to run our bodies, create thoughts, and do thousands of things at one time—there’s no reason that our brains can’t handle two languages (or more!) at one time. That’s not to say that your child won’t be confused at times because they’re learning to be bilingual, but they won’t always be confused because of their language learning.
How Can I Keep My Child’s Bilingual Skills Sharp? The easiest way to do this is to totally immerse your child in their languages in every part of their lives. Are you bilingual? Try to speak to your child in both languages as often as possible. Are your friends or family members bilingual? Try to get them in on the fun, too. Try to add in bilingual learning into all aspects of your child’s life—when you read to them, when they listen to audiobooks, when you talk to them, when you sing to them when they watch shows and movies, when they play with toys, and more!
Is there a Cut-Off Age for Learning a Second Language? No way! Anyone of any age can learn to be bilingual (or multilingual) if they want—that’s the beauty of our brains. Sure, starting from a young age can be incredibly helpful for kids—the more exposure the better, especially in their earlier, developmental years. That begin said, there’s no specific age, I.Q. level, or requirements needed to learn to be bilingual.
Why is My Child Going Through a Silent Period? This depends on what you mean by a silent period. If your kid is experiencing gaps of silence where they’re likely working through how to say something in either language, that’s totally normal! Think of it like their wheels turning, trying to understand both languages enough to say a response that makes sense. Children typically understand a new language more than they can speak at first, so there’s bound to be some silent delay. Additionally, a lot of their focus might be on listening at first. That being said, if this is a long-lasting issue, it’s important that you help your child evaluate this issue and potentially seek professional help!
Do I Need to Be Bilingual if I Want My Child to Be? It’s not super necessary for you to be bilingual in order for your child to be, but it definitely helps if you’re able to learn right along with them. If you want to encourage your child to be bilingual without learning with them, there are plenty of things you can do to help their progress, like invest in great teachers, audio books, high-quality literature, and never skimping on positive reinforcement. While it’s not necessary to learn with your child, remember that children tend to learn by example, so if they see you getting excited about learning a new language or new skill, they’re likely going to be super excited to imitate that. That can often be very inspiring for children. Are you ready to start your child’s bilingual journey? We thought so! Remember, teaching your child a language doesn’t have to be all work and no play—that’s why we designed Wordy Toys! Our toys teach kids the fundamentals of language all while making sure they’re having the play time they love! Check out our bilingual toys here! Happy Parenting! -The Wordy Team "We're not trying to reinvent the wheel. We just want to write wheel on the wheel."