Will speaking two (or more) languages cause my child's language development to be delayed?
Now this is a question that many parents in Singapore have, especially since most children in Singapore often have a "mother tongue". What this means is that Singaporean children would almost always be exposed to at least two languages (bilingualism). Will the learning of two languages at the same time cause cognitive overload and slow down the learning of languages for a child? Will it be better if we simply stuck to one language?
The quick answer is "NO". The belief that children who have to learn multiple languages would end up with delayed language development is a misguided -and stubborn - one.
Much research has shown conclusively that monolingual (one language) and bilingual children actually start speaking at the same time. While there are some studies that show bilingual children acquiring a language slightly slower when compared to a monolingual child, they still develop within expected developmental milestones and also very quickly catch up with their monolingual peers in terms of language skills eventually.
In fact, there have been well-documented cognitive benefits to bilingualism. Research has demonstrated enhanced ability to focus and benefits to executive function development in bilingual children, when compared to monolingual children.
Languages do not simply convey meaning - they also encompass culture and identity. Being proficient in a language allows you access into an entire culture, and is a key to an entirely new world. Parents need not be afraid of exposing their children to multiple languages. As research has shown, we should encourage it!
Of course, if your child has an underlying delay or has learning difficulties, some adjustments might need to be made. Speak to a qualified speech therapist and he/she will be able to give you the right advice for your child.
If you think your child's language is delayed, worry no further. Contact us now to find out more on how Dinosaur Speech Therapy can help support your child's needs! Book a non-obligatory consultation now! Whatsapp or call us now at 8028 8535.