Author: Bridget Griffin
The multi-cultural society we live in today brings our children many benefits, including first-hand experience in diversity, exposure to human differences and more rounded education. It is no question that speaking multiple languages is helpful in this modern world, but doing so at an early stage of development can bring about some challenges. Let’s see some of the common misconceptions about bilingualism in childhood, as told by our very own Bridget Griffin, Speech Language Pathologist.
1. Myth or Fact: Multilingual children develop speech and language later than their monolinguals peers.
Myth! Similar to monolingual children, most multilingual children speak their first words by 12 months. By age two, a majority of both monolingual and multilingual children are combining words into two-word phrases. As speech and language develops, multilingual children may sometimes mix up grammatical rules or use words from both languages within the same phrase or sentence. Additionally, when a second language is first introduced, some multilingual children experience a “silent period” or “non-verbal” period where they do not speak much. This may last anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months. This is a normal stage of multilingual language development where children are absorbing and making sense of the rules of their new language, including speech sounds, vocabulary, and grammatical structures. Just as with monolingual children, multilingual children are most successful developing language with exposure, practice, and positive communication with their families and peers.