Exploring the Fallacies of Bilingualism
Our community can be seen as a kaleidoscope that is constantly changing colours and becoming more and more diverse. Just consider some quick statistics-47% being bilingual and a further 17 % being multilingual (taken from Google) These statistics further suggest that many children are being raised in bilingual homes. Unfortunately there are a lot of misconceptions around bilingualism and language development and so I thought it would be helpful for this blog to have a look at some common myths that exist.
Myth 1: Speaking 2 or more languages to a child can ‘confuse’ them so it is better to only speak 1 language.
FACT: When bilinguals use both languages in the same sentence-this is defined as ‘code switching’. Adults who are bilingual will code switch when they speak with others who speak the same language, and it should be expected that bilingual children will code-switch when speaking with others (Ibanez, 2016). Therefore, code-switching is a natural part of bilingualism (Lowry, 2016).
Myth 2: It is better for families to speak in the language taught in at school to their children even if they do not speak that language very well.
FACT: Parents should not worry if they both speak their native language to the child rather they should speak to their child in a way that is comfortable and natural to them (Ibanez, 2016).
Myth 3: Bilingual children are delayed in learning languages compared to peers who only speak 1 language.
FACT: Bilingualism does NOT cause language delays and has been shown to improve children’s ability to learn new words, identify sounds and problem solve. A bilingual child's vocabulary in each language may be smaller than average but their total vocabulary(from both languages) will be at the same size or larger as the monolingual child (Lowry, 2016).
Written By: Jesjiven Pannu
Registered Speech Language Pathologist
Ibanez, Kelly(2016). Myth Vs Fact: Bilingual Language Development. https://www.uwo.ca/fhs/lwm/teaching/dld2_2017_18/Mercier_Bilingual.pdf
Lowry, Laura; (2016). Bilingualism in Young Children: Separating Fact from Fiction. http://www.hanen.org/Helpful-Info/Articles/Bilingualism-in-Young-Children--Separating-Fact-fr.aspx