Common Misconceptions Regarding Bilinguality
While there’s no scientific evidence that proves multi-linguals begin speaking later, many parents estimate that there is a three to six month delay compared to monolingual children the same age. If you think about it, it makes sense that a child learning two or more language systems might take more time, since they are actually learning twice as many words. Even so, most childrendevelopboth languages in tandum.In Europe, it is common even with two or three languages, as with our own children.
Mixing words is very common in children learning more than one language at a time. But this is a temporary phenomenon. At the age of four or five it has mostly disappeared. Don’t forget that children who are learning only one language often use the wrong word until they learn the right one, and adults often say “umm” when the right word doesn’t come quickly. When multilingual kids can’t think of a word in Vietnamese, for example, they might borrow it from French. This automatically disappears when the vocabulary in each language increases. The best remedy is to be consistent when talking to your child. Your patience will be rewarded, guaranteed.
Additional Effort for the Parents
This is probably the biggest issue. Raising a multilingual child is a commitment and much like piano lessons — you can’t expect your little one to be a virtuoso overnight. This is a long-term investment in your child. It will require extra effort on your part to provide enough language exposure, extra encouragement, keeping your language rules consistent, and in some cases even change the previous language pattern in the family. It can feel a bit awkward at first if you introduce a new language into the family when baby is born, but rest assured, after a few weeks it simply becomes a part of your daily routine. Incidentally, it’s easier to raise a multilingual second child if your first child was raised that way. Your first will end up doing a lot of the work for you by simply being a natural chatterbox. Parents of multilingual children agree overwhelmingly that the benefits for their children are well worth the effort. There’s no doubt that multilingual children have more advantages. Your extra effort will give them a valuable skill they’ll use in numerous ways for the rest of their lives.
Challenges with Reading and Writing
Yes, teaching a multilingual child to read and write adds to the academic load, especially if the aim is full literacy in all of your chosen languages. For many parents, it’s enough if the child can speak in a particular language. Others want to go the extra mile and add reading and writing abilities. Of course, it’s easier if the alphabet is the same, but even related alphabets such as the Roman, Russian, and Greek systems are similar enough that your child will pick them up fairly easily. Pictographs systems like Chinese, however, require a much more resolute effort.