Will learning two languages cause speech or language problems?
No. Children all over the world learn more than one language without developing speech or language problems. Bilingual children develop language skills just as other children do.
What should I expect when my child learns more than one language?
Every bilingual child is unique. Developing skills in two languages depends on the quality and amount of experience the child has using both languages. The following are some basic guidelines:
- Like other children, most bilingual children speak their first words by the time they are 1 year old (e.g., “mama” or “dada”). By age 2, most bilingual children can use two-word phrases (e.g., “my ball” or “no juice”). These are the same language developmental milestones seen in children who learn only one language.
- From time to time, children may mix grammar rules, or they might use words from both languages in the same sentence. This is a normal part of bilingual language development.
- When a second language is introduced, some children may not talk much for a while. This “silent period” can sometimes last several months. Again, this is normal and will go away.
Source: ASHA –> http://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/BilingualChildren/
What about Children with Speech & Language Problems?
- Each adult should ONLY speak to the child in a language that he or she (the adult) is perfectly fluent in. It is more important that the child have good language models around him than having everyone speak broken English
- That may mean that children hear English at school and a different language at home, that’s ok!
- Try to avoid sudden changes in the languages the child is used to hearing (all of a sudden everyone at home goes from speaking Chinese to English) as this can stress the child out