Multilingualism: Myths

Does exposing my children to more than one language going to harm their development?

The reality is multilingualism has been proven to have favourable outcomes on development. Children who speak more than one language were found to have better working memory, thinking skills and self-control.

Myths about multilingualism

Multilingualism confuses children and delays their language.

The good news is, research has proven that multilingualism does not delay development, nor confuse them(Hoff & Core, 2015). A child’s brain has more than enough room for more than one language. In fact, multilingual babies were shown to have the same developmental milestones as mono-lingual children. A surprising fact is that babies can distinguish between different sounds that belong to different languages, hence, they will not confuse languages. These findings are also true for children diagnosed with other disorders such as autism and down syndrome.

Multi-language exposure will result in language disorders.

There is no scientific evidence that speaking more than one language will result in a speech-language disorder. If a child has a language disorder, it will affect all languages the child speaks.

Multilingualism causes mixing of languages.

Infants who are still learning how to speak may mix languages, but that is normal. Children stop mixing languages when they learn enough words to express themselves fully in the spoken. In other words, bilingual children will borrow words from another language to express what they mean. Another reason for code mixing is that children imitate how adults speak (Byers-Heinlein & Lew-Williams, 2013).

Children with a language impairment should not be exposed to a second language

If your child has a language or developmental impairment, it is natural to worry about multilingual exposure. However, research shows that children with language impairment are capable of learning more than one language. Never get discouraged to speak to your child in the language that comforts you.

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