Parents may wonder, what are the benefits of exposing my child to two languages? Children who are exposed to multiple languages from an early age are more likely to become bilingual, and may have greater success with second language acquisition. As with any skill, the more exposure and practice a child has to a second language, the more successful he will be in both languages.
Myths of Learning Another Language in Childhood:
1. Speech and language acquisition will be delayed: This is not true; according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, language milestones are the same across languages. Children will likely develop their first word around 12 months, and will begin combining 2-words around 24 months. If children are struggling with language acquisition, it will likely manifest in all languages a child is exposed to.
2. Children will have a dominant language: This may be true; depending on when a child is exposed to a language, he may have a dominant language. If there is a delay in exposure to languages (e.g., parents speak one language but at daycare a child is exposed to another), children will likely be dominant in their parents’ language, but may still acquire a second language. For an older child who has been exposed to two languages equally, he may elect to have one dominant language or may use different languages depending on environments (e.g., one language at school/home).
3. One parent should speak one language, the other parent should speak another: This is not true; parents need to speak to their children in a language they are comfortable in. For example, children may learn a language inaccurately if a parent exposes a child a language that they themselves are not fluent in. In these cases it is best for families to stick to one dominant language or rely on other individuals who may be fluent in a desired language to help their children.