Children all over the world learn more than one language at a time. Learning another language will not cause or worsen speech or language problems. Bilingual children develop language skills just as other children do.

What can I expect as my child learns multiple languages?

  • Most bilingual children speak their first words by the time they are 1 year old. By age 2, most children can use two-word phrases. Phrases like “my ball” or “more juice” can be in one or both languages.
  • From time to time, children may mix grammar rules. They might use words from both languages in the same sentence. This is a normal part of becoming bilingual.
  • Some children may not talk much when they start using a second language. This “silent period” can last for several months. This is normal and will go away.

Myth vs. Fact in Bilingual Language Development

Myth vs. Fact in Bilingual Language Development

What options do I have for teaching my child to be bilingual?

  • Use two languages from the start. Many children grow up learning two languages at the same time.
  • Use only one language at home. Your child can learn the second language when he starts school.
  • Give your child many chances to hear and practice both languages during the day.
  • Your child might have trouble using both languages. In this case, talk to your child in the language you know best. You should do this even if your child uses a different language at school. A good language model gives your child the skills he needs to learn other languages.

What are some ways I can help my child?

  • Books. You can read to your child in both languages. You can find the books you need at bookstores, at libraries, and on the Internet.
  • Music. Singing is a great way to introduce a second language to your child. And, it can be a lot of fun!
  • TV and videos. Children’s programs are available in many languages. These programs teach children about numbers, letters, colors, and simple words.
  • Language programs. Children can learn other languages at camps or in bilingual school programs. These give children the chance to use two languages with other children.

You can read more information about multilingualism from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association here.