Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to raising a bilingual child. One of these misconceptions is that being bilingual may confuse your infant.[1] In actuality, plenty of studies have shown that dual languages aren’t confusing at all because infants can pick up differences in the pitch and tone in differing languages days after their birth.[1] Nor does being bilingual cause speech delays as most people are lead to believe.[1] A recent paper studied bilingual and monolingual children of similar age to measure the size of their vocabulary pool. After pairing words with similar meanings between the two languages, it was found that bilingual children had a vocabulary pool twice the size of a monolingual child, but knew about the same amount of words. [2] With that being said, with a larger vocabulary, it can be common for children to mix the languages within one sentence, but fret not because as they become more familiar and comfortable with both languages, your child will be able to better separate the two! [1][3]

How can YOU help your baby be bilingual? It is important to expose your child to both languages as much as possible. Due to the fact that there is no exact time frame to teach your child another language, you can essentially start exposing them to their second language at any age! However, some studies recommend that you teach your baby the primary language between birth and 3 years, then the secondary language anywhere between age 4 to puberty for optimal language learning and retention.[5] Within those time periods, you can provide an environment that allows for your baby to hear both languages as casually and as often as possible.[3] You can do this through  television shows, electronic toys or a simple conversation between adults. By doing this, you allow for your child to process how the languages sound.[4] As you would with the primary language, you can also teach your baby a word at a time by pointing to certain objects and naming them in the secondary language so that they can begin to associate the secondary name with the object![4]

It may also help if you designate places or people to speak the primary and secondary language.[3] Some examples of this would be to speak the secondary language only at home and promote speaking the primary language everywhere else.[3] One other example of this would be having one parent speak the primary language and the other parent speak the secondary language so as to expose your baby to both languages with less confusion between you and your spouse.

It is never too late to teach your child a new language![1] So go out and buy those bilingual toys and start planning which parent is speaking which language with your baby- the sooner the better!


[1] BabyCenter (n.d.),; “Raising a bilingual child: Top 5 myths” Web.
[2] MedicalXpress. 2011,; “Bilingualism doesn’t hamper language abilities of children with autism: research” Web.
[3] ScienceNordic 2012,; “Make your baby bilingual” Web.
[4] Parents, (n.d.), teaching-second-language/; “Bilingual Babes: Teach Your Child A Second Language” Web.
[5] MedicalXpress 2015,; “What clinicians need to know about bilingual development in children” Web

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *