Is it true that bilingual children suffer from speech delays?
There's a common notion that raising your child to be bilingual can cause them to suffer from speech delays. But is it really true?
You've probably heard from a fellow parent, or read somewhere that teaching your child to speak 2 different languages can cause speech delays. However, is there really any truth to this notion? Or is it just an old wive's tale?
What exactly is a speech delay?
First off, let's talk about what a speech delay actually is. A child is considered to have a speech delay if their speech development is below the norm for other children of the same age. This means that a child has a speech delay if they acquire their speech milestones very late compared to other kids.
Some things that can cause a speech delay such hearing impairment, mental retardation, cognitive deficits etc. However, one thing that's confirmed to not give your child a speech delay would be teaching them to be bilingual.
This is because a lot of people mistakenly think that since you're teaching 2 languages to your child, they might suffer from speech delays since they can get the 2 languages mixed up, or they might get confused.
However, children are actually more predisposed to learning languages compared to adults. Kids' brains are sponges for knowledge, so for them, learning 2 languages isn't any different to learning a single language.
How can you teach your child 2 languages?
You don't really have to do anything special if you want to teach 2 languages to your child. All you need is to be consistent, and have some structure whenever you teach your child.
Try to use different languages when talking to your child at home. That way, they can get used to the sounds of the words, as well as the different meanings of the words in different languages. Reading stories in different languages also helps a lot in trying to teach your child to be bilingual.
The number 1 thing to remember is to be consistent, and to constantly expose your child to learning. That way, their brains will get used to hearing the 2 languages, and it'll be easier for them to speak it themselves.
A great benefit of teaching your child to be bilingual is that they'll be more inclined to learning, since being bilingual exercises the parts of their brain that encourage them to learn. This makes it easier for them to understand what you teach them and it will greatly benefit them once they're already in school.
So don't be afraid of those stories you hear about children having speech delays because of being bilingual. Encourage your child to speak 2 languages, and they'll be better for it!