Updated: Nov 24, 2020
Raising bilingual children is becoming more common every day! Which we like to think is a good thing, because bilingual children tend to enjoy lots of extra benefits that kids who speak one language might not.
In the past, raising a child to be bilingual wasn’t always considered to be a good thing. Researchers, doctors, and scientists in the first half of the 20th century were dead-set on the idea that raising a child to be bilingual would confuse and overwork kids’ brains, making it difficult for them to learn and develop at a normal pace.
Now, those claims have been totally disproven, and modern-day scientists and researchers believe raising a child to be bilingual can have tons of positive impacts on them for their entire lives.
Despite the benefits of raising children to be bilingual, several myths surrounding it still exist. That’s where we come in! We’re here to bust some of the most common myths about raising your children to be bilingual. Check out the top ten here!
Myth 1: Bilingual Children Will Have Learning Delays
This one goes way back to the idea that raising a child to be bilingual will overwork their brains, leaving them confused and with learning delays. The general idea behind this myth is that by adding on an extra language, you’re confusing the kid, making it harder for them to improve their skills in one language by adding on two complicated ones.
This couldn’t be further from the truth! Teaching a child two languages can actually increase their I.Q., improves their literacy rates, boost their cognitive function, and helps them improve their cognizant flexibility, making it easier for them to solve problems, adjust to new environments, and focus their attention without being distracted.
Myth 2: Schools is Going to Be Tough for Bilingual Children
Every child is going to be different, so every school experience is going to be different, too. The school that best serves your child is going to entirely depend on your child and probably not on whether or not they’re bilingual. While it’s helpful for children to be able to be bilingual while in school, it’s not likely that school will be more difficult for your child because they’re bilingual.
Myth 3: Bilingual Children’s Brains Are Overloaded
This comes from the idea that bilingual children will mix up two languages when they’re speaking—which, spoiler alert, is bound to happen! Why? Because children get mixed up sometimes, it’s normal! How often do you say something accidentally when you meant to say something else? Probably pretty often. Does that mean your brain is overloaded with information? No! It just means you confused a word or two. That’s bound to happen to children who are learning or speaking two different languages—it’s just part of being a human being.
Myth 4: Being Bilingual Will Stunt Their Language Growth
A lot of people tend to think that bilingual children will deal with delays in both their speech as well as their literacy—the opposite of this is actually true. Being bilingual tends to help children improve their literacy, increase their concentration, and fine-tune their executive functioning skills—the part of their brain that helps to control attention span, flexible cognizance, literacy, and more. Further, bilingual children are thought to have denser grey matter, too which, overall, helps them process language, boost their attention span, and even store memory more efficiently—all of these things directly contribute to speech, literacy, and cognitive function.
Myth 5: A Child Won’t Be Fluent in a Language if They Don’t Learn at a Young Age
This one is super false. While it’s helpful to start teaching your child to be bilingual at a young age so they can have a good amount of exposure to both languages, it’s not a requirement to become a fluently bilingual person. Think about it this way—any person, of any age, can learn to be bilingual. There’s absolutely no cut-off point for learning to be bilingual.
Myth 6: Children’s Brains Are Like Sponges—Learning to Be Bilingual Will Be a Breeze
While it’s true that children are fast learners, there’s no guarantee that becoming bilingual will be super easy. Remember, you’re teaching your child a second language, that’s tough! So, it’s not going to happen overnight. Kids won’t just wake up one day and know two languages—it’s going to take a lot of patience, hard work, and dedication. Typically, children need a ton of long-term exposure to become fluently bilingual, so don’t be discouraged when it doesn’t happen in two weeks.
Myth 7: As a Parent, You Have to Be Bilingual
While it’s definitely helpful for parents to be fluent in both languages they’re trying to teach their children, it’s not required. We definitely encourage parents to make the same efforts to be bilingual if they want their child to be, but in today’s world, there are so many options out there for teaching children to be bilingual—online courses, phone apps, professional aids, etc.
If you’re able to speak both languages to your child, they’ll certainly be able to absorb that information better, but being fluent in both isn’t a make or break situation for your little one.
Myth 8: If a Child Isn’t Fluent Then They’re not Bilingual
This isn’t true. don’t just wake up one day totally able to call yourself—or your child—bilingual. It’s an ever-continuous and ever-evolving process that takes hard work, determination, and practice. You don’t have to be a master of both languages before you can claim that you’re bilingual.
Fluency doesn’t necessarily determine your level of being bilingual, your commitment to learning it does. It’s possible that your child will know both languages but favor or prefer one over the other—does this make them monolingual? Not at all. Just because your child isn’t equally fluent in both languages doesn’t mean that they’re not bilingual.
Myth 9: Only the Smartest Kids Can Be Bilingual
Anyone can be bilingual! No matter what your child’s I.Q. is, with enough practice, patience, and determination, they can be bilingual. Children are essentially born with the ability and talent to learn languages—there’s no I.Q. requirement that a child needs in order to be able to master more than one language.
The most important thing to remember here is that with enough encouragement, positive reinforcement, patience, and determination any child can learn a new language—no matter what their I.Q. is.
Myth 10: Children’s Brains Can’t Handle More than One Language
Our brains are super smart. They run our bodies, store memories, create unique thoughts, and do so much more—it’s a little bit ridiculous to think that these insanely powerful, intelligent organs of ours wouldn’t be able to handle more than one language. Children, despite being less developed than adult’s brains, don’t work much differently than adults, and they’re more than capable of handling multiple languages.
Now that we’ve debunked those myths, it’s time to start your child’s bilingual journey. Are you ready? We thought so! The best way to kick-off a kiddos new bilingual journey is to make it super fun, and nothing says fun like a toy they can’t put down! Check out Wordy Toys variety of bilingual-focused toys that are designed for both education and tons of playtime!
-The Wordy Team "We're not trying to reinvent the wheel. We just want to write wheel on the wheel."