February 12, 2021
4 Myths About Bilingualism Which Hold Parents Back
Don’t let these outdated myths stop you from helping your child reach their full language learning potential.
Anyone who tells you that it’s ‘impossible’ to start a second language with your child or that is ‘too early’ is, quite frankly, misinformed. Unfortunately, there are many myths about bilingualism circulating amongst parents and even health professionals.
Many of these popular misconceptions date from studies which have now been debunked. We used to seriously under estimate how powerful our children’s brains are!
Misinformation can knock our confidence and hold us back from teaching our children a second language so when I hear these myths I just want to get on here and bust ’em!!
Let’s go through 4 of these myths and get you back on track to teaching your child French or your chosen language!
1. Learning more than one language confuses children so I’ll wait
FALSE: This is a very common myth about bilingualism but there is strong evidence to suggest that children separate the two languages they are learning (Dual Language System Hypothesis) and can identify which one to use in a given situation.
Waiting until a child is speaking English just means delaying the opportunity to start on the pathway to bilingualism.
Don’t be scared by mixing! Very young children may mix words or grammatical structures but they are exploring and testing their new learnings. It is a great workout for the brain!
2. Children can only learn from native speakers
FALSE: Half the world is multi-lingual (more according to other statistics!). Do you think that all those speakers learned their additional languages from native speakers?
I do agree that learning from a range of speakers including native or highly proficient speakers with solid grammar and phonetic knowledge is preferable but it has been proven that it is not necessary to make progress.
It is entirely possible for your child to acquire a good level in a second language even if you are not native yourself. Enthusiasm and exposure to a language can take you a long way!
3. Bilingualism causes speech delay
FALSE: This was not my personal experience at all. In fact, all three of my bilingual children were bang-on track for their speech development.
But don’t just take my word for it, studies show that bilingual children reach their expected milestones at the same time as their peers.
This myth may be due to parents or health professionals forgetting to count ALL the words our child knows and not just the ones in the majority language. The sum of the words that they know in both languages should be considered.
Furthermore, the exposure to multiple languages has a very positive impact on children’s cognitive development! Creative thinking, problem solving, critical thinking….!
4. There is such a thing as a ‘perfect bilingual’
FALSE: Firstly, the definition of bilingualism can change depending on who you are speaking to. However, it is generally agreed amongst linguists that there is no ‘perfect bilingual’; someone with exactly equal competencies in both languages. You find that there is always a more dominant language likely influenced by the environment they currently live or have previously lived in.
I could unfortunately go on and on debunking myths about bilingualism which fly around – often from well intentioned sources – but let’s stop there.
Learning a second language has so many cognitive benefits that you should not hold your child back form the amazing opportunity!
Get your hands on some fun resources and just get started!
Next steps in teaching your child French effectively.
- We would love to have you in our Facebook Group. There you will find more support and ideas.
- Try out a French Lesson Pack or my Interactive French Platform packed with videos starting at £3.95
- Also, grab your free French digital resource pack including MP3 here!