Bilingual children do better than monolingual children in certain cognitive tasks.
It has been estimated that more than half of the world’s population is bilingual, that is uses two or more languages in everyday life.
- There is the worry that the acquisition of a foreign language will affect negatively the cognitive development of bilingual children. Recent research appears to show the contrary; bilingual children do better than monolingual children in certain cognitive tasks.
- There is the myth that bilingualism will delay language acquisition in young children. This was a popular myth in the first part of the last century, but there is no research evidence to that effect. Their rate of language acquisition is the same as that of their monolingual counterparts.
- There is also the fear that children raised bilingual will always mix their languages when in fact, they adapt to the situation they are in. When they interact in monolingual situations (e.g. with Grandma who doesn’t speak their other language), they will respond in a monolingual way; if they are with other bilingual speakers, then they may well code-switch.
- Another common misconception is that children can easily become fluent and absorb a second language like a sponge. It’s unrealistic to expect your child to learn English by watching videos and television alone.
Learning a language doesn’t have to be a chore. But introducing a second language to your children does require structure and, most important, consistency. While children may be able to speak fluently after two to five years, it will take approximately five to seven years for children to develop academic language.
Among shared misunderstandings, one being that bilingualism is a rare phenomenon. In fact, it has been estimated that more than half of the world’s population is bilingual, that is uses two or more languages in everyday life.