Today, over 4 billion people are bilingual or, simply put, they speak two languages. Despite that, the myths about being bilingual are far too many. In addition, even more are those that concern bringing up bilingual children. For many parents raising their children is more or less worrying. They wonder whether that would be right for their kids and whether they are putting them under a lot of pressure. Also, some even doubt that this would be worth it at all. However, leaving these worries, doubts and questions hanging in the air will not help you. In fact, they can only affect you and your kid in a negative way. For instance, you may decide not to teach your kids your own language. But that would keep them away from theirs and yours culture. Choosing to communicate with your child only on your mother tongue is also not a good idea. That will hinder them to freely communicate with the locals. More importantly, by ignoring one of these two things, you will deprive your child of a better opportunity in life. Therefore, let us take a look at some of the most popular myths about bilingual kids.
Myth #1 – Children brought up in two languages are not capable of speaking any of them correctly.
This idea is very wrong. What you should remember about bilingualism is the factor of exposure. In order a person to be able to speak two different languages, he or she needs to hear and use them equally every day. So if you want to raise your kid as bilingual, make sure you communicate in both of the languages. Also, let your child read books, watch film, listen to music and play games in each of the languages equally. Nevertheless, if the kid does not see that as something fun and interesting, things may not work that well. That is why you need to present things as a fun and entertaining game.
Myth #2 – Kids brought up in two languages learn to speak later.
Again, false! Studies prove that children who know two languages are not much different from monolingual ones. Some bilingual kids do seem more silent, but the same goes for those who speak only one language. That is due to that fact that we are all different and we need different amount of time to learn a particular skill.
Myth #3 – Kids who learn two languages at the same time will mix them.
There is some truth in that. This is known as code-switching. In it, the child uses words and expression from one language to the other. But this should not worry you since adults also experience the same thing when they are equally exposed to two languages during the day.
Myth #4 – Bilingual kids stutter more.
This is one more wrong statement. According to scientists, the number of children who are raised in two languages and stutter is not much different from that of monolingual ones.
Myth #5 – Bilingual kids speak both languages equally well.
Although possible, that is not always the case. Again, exposure plays a big role here. If a child is exposed more to one of the languages, it becomes more fluent in it. Such people are called “dominant bilinguals.”
Myth #6 – Bilingual children have trouble reading.
Not at all! Using two or more languages will not affect a kid’s reading abilities. However, your child will learn to read in one of these languages first. It is better if that is the language used at the school of you kid.
Myth #7 – Bilingual children are also bicultural.
Not really! Knowing a certain language does not mean that you know everything about the culture from which it originates. Remember that a culture does not include only language, clothes and food, but also though patterns, beliefs, myths and values. To learn all latter of these, one needs to visit the country, communicate with the locals and learn their customs, folklore, proverbs and history.
Myth #8 – A child needs to start learning the second language after mastering the first one.
Another big misconception! Your kid can learn and even master two or more languages at the same time without a problem. As a matter of fact, it is advisable to introduce your child to the languages as early as possible. That is because younger children learn languages more easily.
Myth #9 – Kids, whose parents do not communicate with them on their mother tongue, have strong accent like them.
This is a huge myth. Children are often more exposed to the local language, than to their parent’s mother tongue. That is why they do not have the same accent as their mother or father.
Myth #10 – Bilingual kids have poorer school performance.
Wrong! Children raised in two or more languages were found to perform similar to their monolingual classmates.
In conclusion, bilingualism has only advantages. Knowing more than one language gives more opportunities and it opens more doors in life. Your children can only benefit from that.