There are definitive advantages for children who are learning two languages simultaneously. Though parents may question whether or not they should teach their child to be bilingual, research has proven that bilingual children develop language skills in the same manner as peers who are learning one language.
Parents should begin using both languages from the start and continue to give their child opportunities to hear and communicate in both languages throughout their daily routines. Bilingual children typically have a dominant language; that is, one that they know better and use more proficiently. Learning two languages simultaneously does NOT hinder speech and language development. If a child truly has a language disorder, this will be evident in both languages. Additionally, bilingualism may confuse grammatical rules or use words from both languages in the same sentence, and this should not be concerning.
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, research has demonstrated a variety of benefits to being bilingual including:
- Being able to learn new words easily
- Playing rhyming games with words like “cat” and “hat”
- Breaking down words by sounds, such as C-A-T for cat
- Being able to use information in new ways
- Putting words into categories
- Coming up with solutions to problems
- Developing good listening skills
- Connecting with others
Language learning follows patterns. Developing sounds in the first language may further support how a child learns and uses their second language. ASHA also reports that currently 1 in 5 individuals over the age of 5 speak a language other than English at home. Subsequently, simultaneously language learning is becoming more common and is expected to increase over time.