I have recently had a LOT of evaluations of young children who have been exposed to two languages. Some of them have come to me with very little English exposure! When evaluating these children, it is important to think about if their language is delayed because of an actual delay or is it delayed because their two languages are interfering with each other. I found a great website that helped shed some light on some of the myths associated with raising the bilingual child.
• Although many parents believe that bilingualism results in language delay, research suggests that monolingual and bilingual children meet major language developmental milestones at similar times.
• Despite many parents’ fear that using two languages will result in confusion for their children, there is no research evidence to support this. On the contrary, use of two languages in the same conversation has been found to be a sign of mastery of both languages.
• Contrary to the widespread notion among parents that bilingualism results in “bigger, better brains,” parents more realistically can expect their bilingual children to gain specific advantages in targeted areas, such as greater understanding of language as an abstract system.
Do what comes naturally to you and your family in terms of which language(s) you use when, but make sure your children hear both (or all three or four) languages frequently and in a variety of circumstances. Create opportunities for your children to use all of the languages they hear. Read books to and with your children in each of the languages that are important to their lives.
Talk to all your children in the same waynot, for instance, using one language with the elder and another language with the younger. Language is tied to emotions, and if you address your children in different languages, some of your children may feel excluded, which in turn might adversely affect their behavior.
Avoid abrupt changes in how you talk to your children, especially when they are under 6. Don’t suddenly decide to speak French to them if you have only been using English.
If you feel strongly about your children using one particular language with you, encourage them to use it in all of their communication with you. Try to discourage their use of another language with you by asking them to repeat what they said in the preferred language or by gently offering them the appropriate words in the language you want them to use. It is no more cruel than asking your child to say “please” before giving her a cookie
Taken from: http://www.cal.org/resources/digest/raising-bilingual-children.html
If you’re concerned about your child experiencing language delay…call us at Long Island Speech and Myo!