• Nene Bilingüe Mami

Top Myths About Second Language Learning: Part 1

A list of top myths regarding bilingualism

(Which means the 10 statements below are FALSE)

1. Only bilingual parents can raise bilingual children. & Only native speakers and teachers can teach a second language.

This speaks to the level of confidence parents and care givers have or don't have when using a target language. Children will not judge us based on our errors. They will not form bad usage of language based off of our own language mistakes. Seeking outside resources and people will help your child and you learn and practice using the language. Learning together can also be fun.

2. You have to start early for second language learning, or it will be too late!

Starting early can be beneficial when it comes to vocabulary knowledge and conversation because children have had longer periods of their life hearing and using the languages. However, starting later is not the end of the world. Finding ways to expose your child to the target language is key at whatever age they begin their bilingual journey.

3. Children raised in the same family will have the same language skills.

Its difficult enough to raise children exactly the same. Like any different individuals each child has their own personalities, likes, dislikes, motivations etc. where their language learning will also be unique to them.

4. You must correct grammatical errors immediately and consistently to prevent bad habits.

First of all, no one likes to be constantly corrected. This may even decrease their motivation to use the target language. Strategies such as repeating what they say, using the correct form in your response, increased exposure, or seeking playmates and friends who speak the language can help immensely without making language learning stressful.

5. Bilingualism or exposure to multiple languages creates speech delays.

Bilingual and monolingual children hit the same language milestones at the same rate.

6. Movies, shows, toys will make my children bilingual.

No! Children (and anyone for that matter) need high quality exposure. Conversation and interactions with other humans is key to language learning.

7. Bilingual education is for non-English speakers.

The beauty of today's educational bilingual immersion programs is that they encourage language exchange among native speakers, monolinguals and bilinguals. The best set-up is when there is an equal breakdown of these groups so that language learning and teaching can be done among peers in addition to formal lessons.

8. Two language are the most to which a young child should be exposed to.

If you have the means and ability to expose your child/children to a variety of languages do it. Remember, quality and quantity of exposure will determine their language acquisition and level of understanding and use in the target language(s). There have been many documented success stories where each parent speaks a different language at home and the child is also exposed to a third language at school or a majority language in the community.

9. One-Parent-One-Language is the only or best way to raise bilingual children.

The approach you choose to use when raising bilingual children is up to you as the parent. This usually takes time to think of your family set up, access to materials and opportunities, as well as language goals you have for your child. Doing what best works for your family will lead to an outcome you wish for.

10. Mixing languages is a sign of confusion.

Mixing languages is common in bilinguals both children and adults. Not only is it common, but it is excepted - no need to worry your child is confused.

This list was gathered from conversations, books, and articles and chosen based on common threads. A few book suggestions that help dispel these myths are:

The Bilingual Edge by Kendall King Ph.D & Alison Mackey Ph.D

Bilingual is Better by Roxana A. Soto & Ana Flores

Raising Bilingual Children: A Practical Guide by Marietere Rodriguez

Maximize Your Child's Bilingual Ability by Adam Beck

7 Steps to Raising a Bilingual Child by Naomi Steiner MD & Susan L. Hayes

Step by Step Guide for Raising a Bilingual Child by Dr. Barbara Zurer Pearson

Book reviews and notes can be found here

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